† Round-trip airfare from Chicago, IL † All airport taxes & fuel surcharges † 7 nights at centrally located 4 Star hotels (or similar)
~ 5 nights: Oct 2-7, Hotel Michelangelo ****
~ 2 nights: Oct 7-9, Art Hotel Gran Paradiso **** † Transfers as per itinerary † Tour Escort throughout † Breakfast and Dinner daily † Wine with dinners † Transportation by air-conditioned motor coach † Assistance of a professional local Catholic guide(s) † Sightseeing and admissions fees as per itinerary † Mass daily & Spiritual activities † Luggage handling (1 piece per person) †Flight bag & portfolio of all travel documents
Day 1: Sun, Oct 1 - Depart for Rome Make your way to your local airport, where you will board your overnight flights to Italy. Your meals will be served on board.
Day 2: Mon, Oct 2 - Arrive in Rome Welcome to Rome, also known as, "The Eternal City." Upon arrival at Rome airport, collect your luggage in the baggage claim area, and continue to the arrival's hall, where you will be greeted by a tour escort and/or driver. You will make your way to the bus and transfer to your hotel. Following check-in, you will have free time to unpack and relax, or explore Rome on your own. Your tour escort may suggest places to visit. After dinner, you will have the opportunity to walk to St. Peter's Square as a group, for the Rosary (optional).
Day 3: Tue, Oct 3 - Assisi (The Life of a Saint, that inspired a Holy Father) Enjoy an early breakfast, before departing by private coach to a 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 we visit 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. We will start our tour at the St. Francis Basilica, visit his tomb of St. Francis, and have the opportunity to view a series of frescoes depicting his life, along with a few of the saint's possessions. From there, we will continue on a walking tour through this picturesque town, including the birthplace of St. Francis, and ending with a tour of 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. Enjoy some free time on your own - you may take this time for additional prayer, shop in the many gift shops or enjoy a nice lunch. After lunch, we will board the bus, which will take us outside of the walls of Assisi, to the Basilica of St. Mary of the Angels. This is where St. Francis spent most of life. This Basilica is made up of two structures, both of which you will visit. The first structure, is the "Porziuncola", which is where St. Francis founded his order of the Friar Minor (Franciscans). The second, is the "Capella del Transito", which is the place of St. Francis' death. During your time here, you 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. Enjoy dinner in a local farm or winery on your way back to Rome. Overnight Rome.
Day 4: Wed, Oct 4 - Rome: Papal Audience - Basilica of St. John the
Lateran - Holy Steps After breakfast at your hotel, your first sightseeing day in Rome starts! The tour begins with the Papal Audience in St. Peter's Square! The Audience is celebrated each Wednesday by His Holiness, Pope Francis (pending the papal schedule). Following the Audience, there will be free time for lunch, or shop, or mail a postcard from the Vatican Post Office. This afternoon you will visit the oldest of the four major basilicas in Rome, and the home to the relics of Peter and Paul, the Basilica of St. John the Lateran. This Basilica is where Pope Francis was installed as Bishop of Rome, and where he officiates as the Bishop of Rome. Next, we will cross the street to visit the Holy Staircase. Tradition states that this staircase is from Pontius Pilate's palace of Jerusalem during the time of Jesus. It is also said that this Staircase was brought to Rome by St. Helen in the 4th century. If time permits, you may climb the steps on your knees, in memory of Christ's agonizing Passion. Return to the hotel for dinner and overnight.
Day 5, Thu, Oct 5, Full day to Florence Today you will depart Rome and travel to Florence. Once you have arrived in Florence, you'll enjoy a guided tour of this beautiful city. The tour starts at the Church of the Holy Cross, the Santa Croce, where many nobles are buried, such as Michelangelo, Galileo, and Machiavelli. Continue to walk by Piazza Signorina, Palazzo Vecchio, Ponte Vecchio, and Republic Square to the Santa Maria del Fiore. This Cathedral is an iconic piece of architecture of the city of Florence. It was designed by Filippo Brunelleschi in the 13th century. Afterward, visit the Uffizi, a well-known art gallery where you may see famous paintings of Michelangelo, Da Vinci, Botticelli and more! Later, if time, you may explore Florence on your own before departing Florence. You’ll enjoy dinner on the way back to Rome in an olive farm or winery. Overnight Rome.
Day 6: Fri, Oct 6 -Rome: St. Peter's Basilica - Vatican Museum - Trevi Fountain - Appian Way - Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls After an early breakfast, you’ll make your way to the largest Christendom Church, St. Peter's Basilica. This Basilica was built on the site where St. Peter, the first Pope and Bishop of Rome, was martyred. Also, it was Our Holy Father, Pope Francis who was the first Pontiff to visit the necropolis since extensive archaeological excavations were conducted at the ancient site decades ago. It is here that you will view Michelangelo's Pieta. This stunning marble sculpture depicts the Virgin Mary holding Christ after His crucifixion, death, and removal off the cross before being placed in the tomb. Continue to proceed to the Vatican Museums. At the world-renowned museum, you will see the most impressive of edifices, galleries, and awe-inspiring relics. Additionally, you will observe the Tapestry Gallery, Raphael Rooms, Sistine Chapel, and Michelangelo's Masterpiece, the restored mural of the Last Judgment. The final stop on your Vatican tour is at the tomb of St. John Paul II. Afterward, you will be transferred to the Fontana di Trevi (Trevi Fountain), where you may enjoy some free time on your own for lunch. Continue on your short journey down the Appian Way, the earliest road of Ancient Rome. This road leads to the Domino Quo Vadis Chapel, the Baths of Caracalla, the Arch of Drusus and the Tomb of Cecilia Metella. The day concludes with a visit to the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls. Originally founded by Emperor Constantine in the 4th Century, this Basilica is the burial places of Saint Paul the Apostle. After dinner, feel free to explore the streets of Rome, or return to the hotel for overnight.
Day 7: Sat, Oct 7 - Rome - Monte Cassino – The Shrine of St. Philomena - Sorrento Following breakfast, you will board your bus to enjoy the scenic route to Monte Cassino, passing through the Roman countryside that is known for its villas and vineyards. During the bus ride, your tour escort will share interesting information regarding the spiritual, historical, and cultural aspects of Italy. Monte Cassino, the principle monastery of the Benedictine Order, was founded by Saint Benedict around 530 A.D. Following the tour, there will be an opportunity to visit the gift shop, before we board the bus to continue toward the Sanctuary of Saint Philomena where the Sacred body of Saint Philomena rests. Later, continue to Sorrento for dinner and overnight.
Day 8: Sun, Oct 8 - The Amalfi Coast Today you will tour the Amalfi Coast, widely considered one of the most beautiful coastlines in the world; deemed a UNESCO World Heritage site as an outstanding example of a Mediterranean landscape. We'll follow the 34 miles of winding roads that are here. We’ll make a stop to appreciate the breathtaking panoramic view of Positano. Continue on through Praiano where you will drive by St. Gennaro Church, and then on to Amalfi, one of the four maritime Republics of Italy, and view the beautiful Amalfi Cathedral consecrated to its patron, Saint Andrew. You’ll have some free time for lunch on your own, and browse the relaxed atmosphere of this world-famous part of the world. Our last stop on the Amalfi coast will be Ravello. View its interesting Cathedral devoted to Saint Pantaleone, and the Villa Rufolo, a venue for many festivals thru the year and its magnificent gardens. View the Gulf of Salerno and its beautiful coastline. Enjoy the landscape on your return to Sorrento, where you will enjoy dinner and overnight.
Day 9: Mon, Oct 9 -Return home Prepare for your departure home with memories for a lifetime.
About Rome: Rome has been one of history's most powerful and important cities, along with home to the
Roman Catholic Church, the Pope, and the site of the Vatican City. First built in 337, St. Peter's Basilica lies over the tomb of St. Peter. Contained within is a vast array of the most beautiful artwork ever assembled, reflecting the immensity, beauty, vastness, majesty, glory and awesomeness of God.
Basilica di Santa Maria Cathedral, Florence, Italy