Catholic Italy Pilgrimage
Truth, Goodness, and Beauty
Group Leader: Greg Smith
May 2 - 12, 2022
Your trip includes
- Round-trip airfare from Grand Rapids (GRR)
- Airport taxes & fuel surcharges
- Accomodation at centrally located first class hotels: (or similar)
- ~ 4 nights: May 03 - 07: Hotel Conciliazione, Rome
- ~ 2 nights: May 07 - 09: Hotel Dal Moro, Assisi
- ~ 3 nights: May 09 - 12: Starhotels Tuscany, Florence
- Breakfast and Dinner daily
- Wine and mineral water with dinners
- Transfers as per itinerary
- Transportation by air-conditioned motor coach
- Whisper Headsets headsets where needed
- Assistance of a professional local Catholic Guide
- Sightseeing and admissions fees as per itinerary
- Mass daily & Spiritual activities
- Luggage handling (1 piece per person)
- Flight bag & portfolio of all travel documents
- Tips to your guide & driver
Day 1, Mon, May 02: Depart for Rome
Make your way to your local airport to board your overnight flight(s). Dinner and breakfast will be served on board.
Day 2, Tue, Tue, May 03: Arrival in Rome
Welcome to Rome, also known as, “The Eternal City.” Upon arrival at Rome airport, you will 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. Make your way to the bus and transfer to your hotel. Following check-in, you will have time to explore Rome on your own. Your tour escort may suggest places to visit. Later in the afternoon meet at the hotel lobby, as we will make our way to Church to celebrate Mass, followed by a Welcome Dinner. After dinner, you will have the opportunity to walk to St. Peter’s Square for the Rosary (optional).
Day 3, Wed, Tue, May 04: Rome: Papal Audience - Trevi Fountain / Piazza Navona - Basilica of St. John the Lateran and St. Mary Major - Holy Steps
After a nice 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 Papal Audience, we will make our way to the Fontana di Trevi (Trevi Fountain). In the times of Ancient Rome, this fountain served as the terminal point of the Aqua Virgo, the main aqueduct that supplied thermal baths. Following the Trevi Fountain, continue to the beautiful, Piazza Novona. This square was built on the former Stadium of Domitian that held many festivals and sporting events (86 A.D). At the center of this square, stands the Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi (Fountain of the Four Rivers). There are four figures constructed on this fountain that represent four rivers: the Nile, Ganges, Danube, and Rio de la Plata. Next, you may enjoy free time for lunch, followed by a visit to 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. To conclude your day, we will proceed to the Basilica of St. Mary Major and celebrate Mass. This Basilica contains a relic from the manger of the Infant Jesus. Following Mass, return to the hotel for dinner and overnight.
Day 4, Thu, May 05: Rome: Vatican Museum - Appian Way - Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls - Catacombs
This morning enjoy breakfast. We will celebrate Mass at 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. At this Basilica, we will have the opportunity to 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 one of the many Vatican Museums. At the world-renowned museum, you will see the most impressive of edifices, galleries, and awe-inspiring relics. Additionally, you will have the opportunity to 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, enjoy free time for lunch on your own, or to purchase souvenirs from Vatican City. We will then begin the short journey down the Appian Way, the earliest road of Ancient Rome. This road will lead to the Domino Quo Vadis Chapel, the Baths of Caracalla, the Arch of Drusus, the Tomb of Cecilia Metella, and the catacombs of St. Callixtus. 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. We will then make our way to dinner at a local restaurant, and an overnight at your hotel.
Day 5, Fri, May 06: Rome: Colosseum, Roman Forum, Pantheon, Piazza Navona and Spanish Steps
After breakfast explore the first and second tiers of this A-list attraction with a guide, learning about the gladiators who competed in the Colosseum’s gory gladiatorial games. Finish with a tour of the Roman Forum in Ancient Rome and admire incredible ruins, like the Temple of Julius Caesar. Stop for lunch and then we will have the remainder of the day to visit Pantheon and Piazza Navona. The Pantheon in Rome is a remarkable building architecturally. Basically a cylinder with the floating dome on top of columns, it is the largest masonry vault ever built. In the center of this dome is a hole bringing in a shaft of light to show the beauty of this building and its relatively simple, open interior. Being inside the Pantheon feels very special. Originally built in 27 BC and rebuilt by Emperor Hadrian in 120 AD, the temple has been damaged and plundered over time. In 609 AD it became a Christian church dedicated to the Madonna. In the 17th century some of its bronze ceiling was taken and melted down for use in St Peter's Basilica. Important figures such as King Victor Emmanuel II and the artist Raphael are buried in the Pantheon. We then continue to Spanish Steps before delicious dinner and restful overnight.
Day 6, Sat, May 07: Rome - Orvieto - Assisi
Following breakfast will head north through the Roman countryside of vineyards and villas. Throughout this bus ride, your tour escort will share very interesting information regarding the spiritual, historical, and cultural aspects of Italy. On the way to Assisi we will make a stop in Orvieto, where a Eucharistic Miracle is preserved in the Cathedral of Orvieto. In 1263, a Priest stopped to celebrate Mass at Saint Christina’s Church in Bolsena. Having doubts that the Eucharist was really the Body and Blood of Christ, the Priest was shocked when the host began to bleed right after the prayer of consecration. Unable to hide this fact, he interrupted the Mass and went to Orvieto where Pope Urban IV was in residence. The Pope ordered that the miraculous host and then linen altar cloth stained with blood be brought to Orvieto and placed on display, where is still rests today. The Cathedral also has some of the most magnificent frescoes to be found anywhere. The depicting visions of heaven and hell in the San Brizio Chapel rival those of the Sistine Chapel. After lunch, continue on to Assisi, the hometown of St. Francis. Check-in to your hotel and enjoy delicious dinner and restful overnight.
Day 7, Sun, May 08: Assisi (The Life of a Saint, that inspired a Holy Father)
Enjoy an early 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 an inspiration to all by preferring to live in simplicity and humility, while giving up all other worldly possessions. 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. Return to the hotel for dinner and overnight.
Day 8, Mon, May 09: Assisi - Siena - Florence
Breakfast, followed by a scenic drive to the city of Florence. On the way to Florence will stop at city of Sienna, 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 continue to Florence and arrive at time for check in and dinner followed by the overnight.
Day 9, Tue,May 10: Florence
In Florence, your day begins with breakfast, followed by a guided tour. 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, Uffizi, 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. Next, a visit to L'Accademia, the well-known art gallery. At this gallery, you will have the opportunity to view the work from artists such as Botticelli, Ghirlandaio, Pontormo and the ever famous sculpture by Michelangelo, David. This afternoon you will have time to explore Florence on your own. Return to hotel for dinner and an overnight.
Day 10, Wed, May 11: Florence: Visit to the Vineyard in the morning and free time in the afternoon
Following breakfast at Hotel we will drive to one of nearby Vineyards and enjoy wine testing. Following time in countryside return to Florence for some last minute visits, shopping, prayers and reflections. Dinner and overnight in Florence.
Day 11, Thu, May 12: Return Home
After an early breakfast and heartfelt farewells, transfer to Florence airport for your return flights home.