DAY 1: DEPART
We depart for Rome.
DAY 2: ROME / SIENA
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 proceed to Siena, the home of St. Catherine. Upon arrival we stop at the Basilica of San Domenico where we celebrate the opening Mass of our pilgrimage. We then enjoy a guided visit of this Basilica which contains the head-relic of Saint Catherine of Siena, within a splendid Renaissance chapel. We then visit the Shrine of the House of St. Catherine and other sights of this beautiful city. After checking-in at our hotel we will have some free time. Dinner is served at our hote. Overnight.
DAY 3: SIENA: ASSISI EXCURSION
Buffet breakfast. After breakfast we enjoy an excursion to Assisi, the city of St Francis and Clare. Our guide will meet us for a walking city sightseeing tour including the Basilica of St. Francis, visit his tomb and have the opportunity to view a series of frescoes depicting his life in the upper Basilica. We then continue with the Chiesa Nuova, the birthplace of St. Francis, followed by a visit to the nearby Santuario Della Spogliazione where the Blessed Carlo Acutis’ tomb is placed. Carlo is the first millennial to be beatified by the Catholic Church, on October 10 2020 in a Mass at the Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi. Our tour will end with a visit to the Church of St. Clare, the foundress of the Poor Clare Sisters. This Saint followed the teachings of St. Francis by living a life of poverty and humility.
We then have time at our leisure to explore the city and have lunch.
In the afternoon, we board our motorcoach and return to Siena. We stop at the Basilica of St. Mary of the Angels, where St. Francis spent most of his life and visit the “Porziuncola”, where St. Francis founded his order of the Minor Friars, and the “Capella del Transito, the place of St. Francis’ death.
We return to Siena where dinner is served at our hotel. Overnight.
DAY 4: SIENA: FLORENCE EXCURSION
Buffet breakfast. We enjoy an excursion to Florence, home to many masterpieces of Renaissance art and architecture. We enjoy a guided visit including its most iconic sights, the Duomo of Santa Maria del Fiore, its famous dome engineered by Brunelleschi and its bell tower by Giotto. Next to the Duomo is the Baptistery of San Giovanni, one of the oldest buildings in Florence, dedicated to St. John the Baptist. The octagonal building is famous for its gilded bronze doors, particularly the Gates of Paradise by Lorenzo Ghiberti. We then walk to Piazza della Signoria and view the Palazzo Vecchio, the most important historic government building in Florence, having been the seat of the Signoria of the Florentine Republic in the 14th century and then the government centre of the Medici grand dukes of Tuscany. We also view the Loggia dei Lanzi and the Uffizi (outside). Our tour will end at the Ponte Vecchio (Old Bridge) the iconic 14th-century bridge. We have some leisure time to explore the city on our own and for lunch or for an optional visit to the Academy of Fine Arts, housing Michelangelo’s David, or the Uffizi Gallery, created by the Medici family to preserve its incredible collection of works of art. Later this afternoon we celebrate Mass in the Franciscan church of Santa Croce. We then return to Siena for dinner and overnight.
DAY 5: SIENA / ORVIETO / ROME
Buffet breakfast. We then depart for the charming hilltop town of Orvieto. The town sits high above the Italian landscape, perfectly situated on a tufa rock. Because of its strategic location, Orvieto for centuries served as a refuge for the popes in troubled times. But Orvieto is also home of an Eucharistic Miracle, the Corporal of Bolsena, preserved in a rich reliquary in the gothic cathedral, the Duomo of Orvieto. We visit the Duomo and then enjoy lesure time to explore the city on our own.
After lunch we continue to Rome. Upon arrival we visit the Basilica of St. Paul Outside Walls, erected on the Saint’s burial site in 313 AD, when Emperor Costantine promulgated the Edict of Milan which put an end to the persecution of Christians, allowing them freedom of worship and encouraging the construction of sacred places for prayer. We then transfer to our hotel for dinner and overnight.
DAY 6: ROME
Buffet breakfast at hotel.
This morning we enjoy a guided tour which includes some of the most important basilicas of Rome. We start our visit with the Basilica of St. Mary Major, the largest church in Rome dedicated to the Blessed Mother, and pray before the Icon of Mary Salus Populi Romani (Mary the salvation of the Roman people).
We then visit the Basilica of St. John Lateran and the Scala Santa. Founded by Constantine in 312 AD, it comes about 14 years before the foundation of the Basilica of Saint Peter, for this reason it is absolutely the oldest basilica in the world. Inside we will see the monumental statues of the 12 Apostles among which stand out Saint Peter, Saint Paul and Saint John Evangelist, while over the tabernacle on the Papal Altar, in silver cases behind a grating, the relics of Apostles Peter and Paul. We also visit the nearby Scala Santa that, according to tradition, Saint Helene – mother of Constantine – took to Rome during her pilgrimage to the Holy Land. This is considered the staircase that Jesus climbed to Pilate short before being crucified and can only be climbed on your knees.
We have some free time for own lunch. In the afternoon we visit the Basilica of San Clemente, one of the most interesting and ancient basilicas of Rome, built before 385 and dedicated to San Clemente, the third pope after San Pietro. Its peculiarity is that it consists of two superimposed churches, built on Roman buildings of the Republican age and on the remains of a temple of the god Mithras. On the way back to our hotel we stop at the beautiful church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin, founded in the seventh century in the place where the Ara Maxima of Hercules stood. In its porch there is the famous Bocca della Verità, dear to popular tradition for the well-known belief that the mouth could bite the hand of those who have not told the truth. Transfer back to our hotel and balance of the afternoon at our leisure. Dinner at the hotel and overnight.
DAY 7: 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 8: ROME / NAPLES & POMPEII EXCURSION
Buffet Breaskfast. Today we enjoy a full day excursion in the South of Italy. We will stop in Naples for a panoramic city sighseeing tour and see the impressive Castel Dell’Ovo, Piazza del Plebiscito, the Royal Palace, the Basilica of San Francesco Di Paola, the San Carlo Opera House, the Gallery of Umberto I and the imposing Maschio Angioino.
We depart Naples for Pompeii where we enjoy lunch on our own. After lunch we enjoy a guided visit of the excavations, on an archaeological journey through this ancient city. Pompeii was covered by ashes during the eruption of Vesuvius in the year 79 AD. Through the remains and ruins of this ancient city, we can picture the everyday life of the Imperial Age and imagine the panic felt by the people in those last few minutes before the city was so disastrously buried. We will also view the latest discoveries the archaeologists found: two houses—the House of the Garden and the House of Orion—with frescoes, murals, mosaics of mythological figures in gorgeous colors and a neighborhood snack bar, or thermopolium, a popular place for the working classes to grab a bite.
We return to Rome and our hotel at the end of visit. Dinner and overnight.
DAY 9: ROME
Buffet breakfast. This morning 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. Then we enjoy a short walking tour starting in Piazza Venezia and taking us to admire the Campidoglio and the nearby church of Santa Maria in Ara Coeli, Corso Vittorio and Piazza Navona, with its beautiful fountain of the 4 rivers by Bernini and the church of Sant’Agnese.
Our tour ends at the Pantheon where we will have free time for lunch and personal activities. The return to the hotel will be on our own. Dinner and overnight.
Ps: As an alternative it is possible to organize a farewell dinner with or without music in a local restaurant.
DAY 10: ROME: RETURN HOME
After breakfast we transfer to the airport for our return flight home.