DAY 1: DEPART
We depart for Rome.
DAY 2: ROME / FLORENCE
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 Florence and our hotel. Dinner and overnight.
DAY 3: FLORENCE
Buffet breakfast. We enjoy a guided visit of Florence 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. Dinner and overnight.
DAY 4: FLORENCE / SIENA / ASSISI
Buffet breakfast. We enjoy an excursion to Siena, the home of St. Catherine. We visit the austere church of San Domenico 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. Free time for lunch and then we make our way to Assisi in time for dinner. Overnight.
DAY 5: ASSISI
Buffet breakfast. We enjoy a walking city sightseeing guided 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 visit 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. Dinner and overnight at the hotel.
DAY 6: ASSISI / ROME
Buffet breakfast. We then depart Assisi for 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 7: 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 then transfer to the neighborhood of Trastevere: here we will have free time for lunch, after which our guide will lead us on a visit to the ancient and precious church of Santa Maria in Trastevere which was probably the first official place of Christian worship in Rome. According to legend, it was built by Pope Callisto I in the third century AD. We will admire the columns of the nave, recovered in the Baths of Caracalla and the beautiful mosaics inside.
Dinner is at our hotel.
This evening we have the option to attend the Evening Prayer with the Community of San Egidio in Trastevere (Prayer starts at 08:30 pm).
DAY 8: ROME
Buffet breakfast at the hotel.
Today we enjoy a nice and fun excursion in the Roman Hills of Rome. We board our motor coach and transfer to Frascati, the terraced city, to enjoy the stunning view on the Hills, stroll through its alleys and visit its Cathedral. We will then experience a particular cooking lesson where we will learn how to cook some traditional Roman dishes and then taste them and we will attend a wine tasting to taste the wines produced in the area such as the Cannellino or the Frascati doc, appreciated since Roman times, or the legendary Romanella doc sparkling wine, and many others. We then transfer back to Rome and our hotel for the afternoon at leisure.
Dinner on our own. Overnight.
DAY 9: ROME
This morning we transfer to the Vatican City for the Papal Audience (subject to Holy Father’s schedule). This afternoon is at leisure and we have some time to shop or to stroll around the Trevi Fountain, Piazza Navona or the Spanish Steps. Dinner will be at our 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
We transfer to the Rome airport for our return flight home. (B)
End of services.