DAY 1: DEPART
We depart for Rome.
DAY 2: ARRIVE ROME / ASSISI
We arrive in Rome and are met by our experienced tour manager who will accompany us throughout our journey. We board on our motor-coach and travel through the Region of Umbria, the green heart of Italy, to a tiny stone structure considered the home of St. Francis and his followers and the house where St. Francis founded the Franciscan order and died in or near, on October 3, 1226
DAY 3: ASSISI
Buffet breakfast. We meet our guide and enjoy a walking city sightseeing tour including the Basilica of St. Francis. We visit the upper church, or Basilica Superiore, and its 28 frescoes by Giotto depicting St. Francis’ life. Though completed centuries ago, the frescoes are still vibrant. We then visit the lower church, or Basilica Inferiore and the lower sanctuary, the Crypt of St. Francis housing his monumental tomb. We continue with our sightseeing tour, visiting the major sites associated with St. Francis and St. Clare, including the Chiesa Nuova, built atop the childhood home of St. Francis and the Church of St. Clare, St. Francis’ contemporary and founder of the Order of the Poor Clares. We visit her burial site located in the 13th-century Church’s crypt as well as the Crucifix of San Damiano.This afternoon is at leisure to reflect on how the lives of these two saints impact us today. Dinner is at our hotel. Overnight.
DAY 4: ASSISI
Buffet Breakfast. We then walk to the Piazza near St. Clare’s Church and take taxis up the winding road to the Eremo delle Carceri (Hermitage). Set within the thick woodland of mount Subasio, 4 km from Assisi, the Hermitage developed over centuries around the mountain’s natural caves and the chapel of Santa Maria, where Saint Francis and his first companions settled in isolation to lead a life of austerity and more intense prayer. After our visit we take our taxis and transfer to the Church of San Damiano, a tiny church located outside of the walls of Assisi. According to legend, it was here that St. Francis first heard the voice of God telling him to “rebuild his church.” He also wrote his famous Canticle of the Creatures in this place. to the town down below. Lunch and afternoon at our leisure to walk the streets of this medieval town and absorb the spirit of Saints Francis and Clare. Dinner is at our hotel. Overnight.
DAY 5: ASSISI
Buffet Breakfast. We enjoy full day excursion to La Verna, the place where nature and spirituality come together in perfect balance. During his life, Francis went to La Verna several times it therefore becomes one of the hermitages in which every year he loves to spend prolonged periods of retreat, in prayer and penance. But it is above all the place where, on 17 September 1224, the feast of the exaltation of the cross, Francis receives the Stigmata. We visit the Stigmata Chapel as well as Sasso Spicco, the great overhanging rock under which Francis delighted to pray, and the beautiful Chapel of the Birds. Lunch is at our leisure with the optional possibility of arranging it in the refectory of the Pilgrim of the Sanctuary. After some leisure time to explore the sanctuary on our own, we return to Assisi for dinner and the evening. Overnight.
DAY 6: ASSISI
Buffet Breakfast. This morning, we enjoy an excursion to Gubbio, the city that first welcomed the Saint admiring his virtues and recognizing him as a man sent by God. It was here that St. Francis also wore the tunic for the first time. We walk through the narrow alleys and the steep slopes of the historical centre to fully enjoy the medieval atmosphere, visit the monumental Church of St. Francis and learn about the legend of St. Francis and Brother Wolf. After some free time for lunch and self exploration, on the way back to Assisi, we stop and visit the Rivo Torto church containing the “hut” where St. Francis and his companions sheltered and where he had drawn up the first draft of the Rule. We then continue to our hotel for dinner and the evening. Overnight.
DAY 7: ASSISI / GRECCIO / ROME
Buffet Breakfast. We then depart Assisi for Rome, stopping first at the medieval town of Greccio, set on a beautiful mountaintop. We visit its Sanctuary renowned as the birthplace of the Christmas crèche. This tradition originated with St. Francis, who staged the first nativity scene on Christmas Eve in 1223 while visiting Greccio. St. Francis had received permission from Pope Honorious III to hold Midnight Mass in a cave near the village, so he led shepherds to the top of a nearby hill where they gathered together in a stable sheltering an ox and a donkey. The Franciscan convent of Greccio was built on this spot and the Chapel of the Crib was erected in 1228, the year St. Francis was canonized.
We then continue on to Rome. Upon arrival we stop at the Basilica of St. John Lateran for a visit. It is here that St. Francis persuaded Pope Innocent III to give permission to begin the Franciscan Order.
We then transfer to our hotel for dinner and overnight.
DAY 8: ROME
Buffet breakfast. We make our way to the Vatican City to attend the General Papal Audience (subject to the Holy Father’s schedule). We then have free time for lunch in the Vatican area.
Early afternoon we enjoy a guided visit of the Basilica of St. Peter which marks his burial site. We will learn the story of his ministry and martyrdom in Rome. We will also admire the Michelangelo’s Pieta, the Bernini’s baldachin located over the high altar of the Basilica, the Altar of the Chair and the tomb of Pope John Paul II. At the end of our visit we can return back to the hotel with our included transfer or enjoy an optional visit of the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel.
Dinner is at our hotel tonight. Overnight.
DAY 9: ROME
Buffet breakfast. We make our way to the Catacombs of St. Calixtus. On the way we enjoy a panoramic tour of some of the sites of Ancient Rome: we drive by the Circo Massimo, the Palatine Hill, the Roman Forum and the Coliseum. Upon arrival we start a guided tour of this underground cemeterial complex with a network of galleries about 12 miles long, in four levels, more than twenty meters deep. In it were buried tens of martyrs, 16 popes and many early Christians. At the end of visit we transfer to Trastevere area and have some leisure time for lunch and personal activities. We visit as well the Church of San Francesco d’Assisi a Ripa, built in the 13th century on the site of a hospice for travelers where St. Francis lived during his stay in Rome. The balance of the day will be at our leisure. Dinner will be at the hotel. Overnight.
Ps: as an alternative it is possible to organize a farewell dinner with or without music in a local restaurant.
DAY 10: RETURN
After breakfast we transfer to the Rome airport for our return flight home.