* Sample Day by Day Itineray.
Day 1: Depart for Rome
Depart the USA, Canada or other parts of the world, by overnight flight to Rome. Meals will be served on board.
Day 2: Arrive Rome
Welcome to Rome, one of the most magnificent and interesting cities in the world, also known as the “Eternal City”! You will be transferred to your hotel. This afternoon our guide will introduce us to our fellow pilgrims and our priest who will be with us for the rest of the journey. We will make our way to Mass, followed by a welcome dinner with wine. This evening we will walk to St. Peter’s Square for Rosary (optional).
Day 3: Rome: Papal Audience – Trevi Fountain / Piazza Novona – Basilica of
St. John the Lateran and St. Mary Major – Holy Steps
Following breakfast, we will make our way to St. Peter’s Square to attend the Papal Audience, led by His Holiness, Pope Francis. (Papal Audience: Is scheduled to take place every Wednesday, pending the schedule of Pope Francis) Following the audience, we will make our way to the Trevi Fountain built in the 15th Century to mark the ending destination of the Aqua Virgo – a man-made channel erected in 19 B.C or Piazza Novona where at the center: Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi “Fountain of the Four Rivers. After free time for lunch we will visit the Basilica of St. John the Lateran, the Pope’s cathedral church where relics of both Peter and Paul remain under the main altar. It was here that Pope Francis was formally installed one year ago as Bishop of Rome. Next we cross the street to see the Holy Staircase which is believed to be a staircase from Pilate’s palace in Jerusalem and brought to Rome by St. Helen in the 4th century. Time permitting we may climb the steps on our knees in memory of Christ’s Passion. Continue to the Basilica of St. Mary Major, the most important and the oldest church dedicated to Our Lady. St. Mary Major contains a relic from the manger of the infant Jesus. We will celebrate Mass, and then make our way to dinner and overnight.
Day 4: Rome: Vatican Museum – Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls - Catacombs
Following breakfast, we will depart to celebrate Mass in the largest church in Christendom, St Peter's Basilica, built on the site where St Peter was martyred. Unsurpassed in beauty, a monument to the long history of the Catholic Church, to which pilgrims come from around the world, St Peter's is the grandest of the world's churches. Marvel Pieta and Bernini's amazing bronze canopy. Following Mass, we will visit of the Vatican Museums, containing a group of the most impressive edifices with hundreds of galleries filled with art treasures. See awe-inspiring relics, and works of art donated throughout centuries as tributes of faith. We'll cover The Tapestry Gallery, The Raphael Rooms and the most overwhelming Sistine Chapel, Michelangelo's Masterpiece, restored mural of the Last Judgment. The tour ends as we make our way back into St. Peter’s Basilica. Pope Francis visited the tomb of St. Peter, following his elevation, for a visit of devotion that lasted 45 minutes. He is the first Pontiff to visit the necropolis since extensive archaeological excavations were conducted at the ancient site decades ago. We will also visit the tomb of St. John Paul II located at the Vatican. There will be free time for lunch, and then we will continue on to visit St Paul. Outside the Walls. Continue our tour via the Appian Way -- the oldest road from Roman times--plus the famous Domino Quo Vadis Chapel; see the ancient Baths of Caracalla, Arch of Drusus; Tomb of Celilia Metella, and the catacombs of St Callixtus where the early Christians hid themselves to escape persecution. We will conclude our day and wonderful stay in Rome with dinner at a local restaurant in Rome.
Day 5: Rome – Monte Cassino – San Giovanni Rotondo
Following breakfast, we will head south and cross through the Roman countryside with its villas and vineyards. During your drive, your tour escort will explain the spiritual, historical, and cultural overview of Italy, which will help to orient you to this beautiful country and prepare you for all that you will experience in the days to follow. We stop at Montecassino, a beautiful town founded by Saint Benedict in 529. Enjoy lunch and then continue through the countryside heading east to Padre Pio’s town, San Giovanni Rotondo, our base for the following two nights. Dinner and overnight.
Day 6: San Giovanni Rotondo - Monte Sant’ Angel (*View incorrupt body of Padre Pio)
After celebrating Mass at the tomb of Padre Pio, we tour the sanctuary, see the old church and the crucifix from which he received the stigmata in 1918. You will see the confessional where Padre Pio spent innumerable hours with a multitude of pilgrims, directing them on their journey toward God. (We will have the opportunity to view and pray before the incorrupt body of Padre Pio.) Enjoy a breathtaking view of the Gargano Peninsula and a visit to the Grotto of Michael the Archangel. Six different popes, St Francis and at least four other saints have knelt in prayer at this grotto, seeking the protection of St Michael. Following lunch, take in the panoramic view of the ocean and the surrounding countryside awaits you at this most celebrated shrine of early Christianity, a shrine consecrated by St Michael himself in 490. Return to San Giovanni for devotions, reflection, and a restful overnight.
Day 7: San Giovanni Rotondo – Lanciano – Assisi
Following breakfast, your group will board the bus and head to Lanciano (approximately two hours). Upon arrival in Lanciano, you will celebrate Mass at the Church of St. Longinus. This Church is the site of the Eucharistic Miracle that occurred in the eighth century. At the time of the Miracle, there was a Basilian monk who struggled with the belief in the real presence of The Lord Jesus in the Eucharist. During the time of Mass, the monk, with doubt in his voice, said the "Words of Consecration" and the bread turned into living flesh, and the wine transformed into live blood. After Mass free time for lunch. Continue toward Assisi (Approximately three hours), the hometown of St. Francis. Upon arrival in Assisi, your group will check-in, enjoy dinner, before retiring to your room for a restful night's sleep.
Day 8: Assisi (The Life of a Saint, that inspired a Holy Father)
This morning, your group will enjoy breakfast followed by a full day of touring the hometown of St. Francis. St. Francis is the "Patron Saint of Animals and the Environment." Additionally, he is responsible for founding the Franciscan Order, and the inspiration for our Holy Father, Pope Francis. He chose his name in admiration of the Saint of Nature, and Servant to the Poor. Known for being a humble man himself, Pope Francis spent most of his life denying the luxuries of life. He preferred to live in simplicity and humility, while giving up all other worldly possessions, just as St. Francis did. As your group visits the birthplace of St. Francis, you will become captivated as the atmosphere has not changed since St. Francis began his ministry, in the early 13th-century. During the tour, your group will have the opportunity to visit the tomb of St. Francis at his Basilica. Also, at the Basilica of St. Francis, you will have the opportunity to view a series of frescoes depicting his life, as well as, view a few of the saint's possessions. As the tour continues, your group will visit St. Mary of the Angels Basilica. This Basilica is where St. Francis spent most of life, and is made up of two structures; both of which you will visit. The Porziuncola is where St. Francis founded his order of the Friar Minor (Franciscans), and the Capella del Transito, which is the place of St. Francis' death. During this visit, your group will have the opportunity to visit the beautiful Rose Garden where St. Francis and other friars lived, as well as the cave where the Saint retired to pray. After visiting this beautiful Basilica, your group will enjoy some free time on your own. Feel free to take this time for additional prayer, or shop in the Gift Shop. The last stop on your tour will be to the Church that honors St. Clare, the foundress of the Poor Clare Sisters. This Saint followed the teachings of St. Francis very closely by also living a life of poverty and humility. Lastly, your group will transfer back to the hotel, where you will have some free time to walk, shop, or pray. Return to the hotel for dinner and overnight.
Day 9: Assisi – Siena - Assisi
After breakfast we will head south to Siena, the birthplace of Saints Catherine (Doctor of the Church, and one of the two patron Saints of Italy, with St. Francis of Assisi) and Bernardine (known as the “Apostle of Italy” for his efforts to revive the Catholic faith in the 15th century). Siena is also one of Italy’s loveliest medieval cities. Here we will stroll the Piazza Del Campo, one of Italy’s finest squares and visit the Cathedral and the Basilica of St. Francis, containing the miraculous consecrated hosts that remained intact since 1730. After lunch, we will continue on to view the incorrupt head of St. Catherine at the Basilica of St. Dominic (Her body is preserved in Rome in the Basilica St. Maria sopra Minerva). We travel back to Assisi for dinner and overnight.
Day 10: Assisi – Pisa - Florence
After breakfast, we are off to the beautiful town of Florence. On the way, we will stop to explore the university city of, Pisa. We will marvel at its amazing architectural structures and visit the famous Leaning Tower. After lunch, the bus will bring us through the Tuscany until we arrive at our hotel in Florence. A true paradise for culture and art lovers, Florence drew to itself the greatest artists of the Renaissance: Dante, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael, Botticelli, Donatello and many others. You will have a free afternoon to stroll the streets of this city. Enjoy some of the best shopping in Italy, visit a museum, or just relax in a café in the Piazza della Signoria. We gather for dinner to share stories of our day.
Day 11: Florence
After breakfast, we are off to Enjoy guided tour of Florence which includes magnificent Franciscan church of The Holy Cross or Santa Croce with the beautiful facade, church is a burial place of nobles, among which is Michelangelo, Galileo and Machiavelli. Walking tour through Piazza Signoria, pass by Palazzo Vecchio, Uffizi and Ponte Vecchio. Continue through Republic Square to the Santa Maria del Fiore 13th century cathedral. After lunch we will visit L'Accadamia where we will view Michelangelo's "David" as well as other works of art. You will have free time to explore the museum and city before we return to the Hotel for dinner and overnight.
Day 12: Florence – Padua
After breakfast, we depart for Padua, where St. Anthony, patron saint of lost things is honored. We celebrate Mass at the Basilica built in his honor. Following Mass, begin our sightseeing tour including one of the oldest universities in Italy, the Tomb of St. Anthony and we have an opportunity to see several of his relics. We will pass by Pratto Della Valle, and see the Basilica of Santa Giustina. We arrive at our Hotel in time for dinner and a restful overnight.
Day 13: Padua - Venice (Full Day Excursion)
After breakfast, we depart for nearby Venice, where the streets are paved with water! We will enjoy a tour and visit to some of the greatest sights you will ever see: St. Mark's Square, The Golden Basilica of San Marco, the Bridge of Sighs, and we will even have an extraordinary visit of Dodges' Palace. After the tour you will have free time to explore Venice on own, shop and perhaps take a gondola ride. Don't forget to enjoy a cappuccino and gelato at one of the cafes in St. Mark's Square, a “must” for any visit to Venice. We will return to our Hotel in time for Dinner and overnight.
Day 14: Venice - USA
We will bid farewell to our new friends and to a Pilgrimage which will be in our memories and hearts for a long time to come. We depart for Venice Airport for our return flights home. We fondly say, Arrivederci Italia!
*Itinerary Disclaimer: Though every effort will be made to follow the itinerary, it should be considered as an indication, rather than a contract of places to be visited. Occasionally local religious holidays, national days, weather, traffic conditions and other events may necessitate changes in the sequence of visits or the missing of certain visits.