||Make an inspirational journey through scenic Italy. Attend the weekly papal audience and receive the blessing given by His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI. See the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica. Visit the Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi in the beloved saint’s hometown. Stay two nights in San Giovanni Rotondo, and pray in the basilica dedicated to St. Pio of Pietrelcina – “Padre Pio.” Visit the Grotto of Michael the Archangel, on the rugged Gargano Peninsula.
Day #1 Overnight Flight - Travel with us on an inspirational journey visiting some of the most fascinating religious sites and relics in the world.
Day #2 Rome, Italy - Tour Begins - Your tour begins in Rome. This evening, join your fellow travelers for a special welcome dinner at a popular local restaurant featuring regional delicacies and fine Italian wines.
Day #3 Rome - Vatican City - Christian Rome City Tour - Papal Audience - This morning, visit Vatican City to attend the weekly papal audience and receive the blessing given by His Holiness, Benedict XVI. Later, visit the catacombs where early Christians, fearing persecution, hid and buried their dead. Next, visit three of Rome’s major basilicas. See St. Paul Outside the Walls which contains the remains of St. Paul under its main altar; visit St. John in Lateran, the former residence of the popes prior to their return to Rome in 1377; and then proceed to St. Mary Major, one of the oldest shrines dedicated to the Blessed Virgin.
Day #4 Rome - Vatican Museum - After celebrating Mass, you head towards Vatican City. In the Vatican Museum* you will view such historical treasures as the Sistine Chapel and Michelangelo’s restored mural of the Last Judgment. Also visit St. Peter’s Basilica, built on the site where St. Peter was martyred. Known as the grandest of the world’s churches, St. Peter’s is unsurpassed in beauty. Enjoy a free afternoon to explore the city on your own.
Day #5 Rome - Abbey of Montecassino Madonna del Rosario - Campania - This morning you travel to Montecassino to visit the renowned abbey founded by St. Benedict in the 6th century AD. This sacred place houses the relics of St. Benedict and his sister Saint Scolastica. Montecassino also became famous during the battles that took place here during World War II, when the abbey was bombed and destroyed. Later, your travels continue to the town of Pompeii where you will visit the Madonna del Rosario Sanctuary, one of the most famous shrines of Christianity. LANGUAGE DISCOVERY: Today, your Tour Manager will help you discover the origin and history of the language(s) you will experience on your tour along with key words and phrases that will help you communicate with the locals. Finish your day in Campania.
Day #6 Abbey of Santissima Trinita - San Giovanni Rotondo - Begin your morning with a special visit to the Benedictine Abbey of Santissima Trinita in Cava de Tirreni, founded in the 11th century by a local saint. After a guided visit to the abbey, you will have the option of celebrating mass. Later, your travels continue southeast through the picturesque landscape of the regions of Campania and Apulia to San Giovanni Rotondo, home of Padre Pio.
Day #7 San Giovanni Rotondo - Monte Sant’ Angelo - Begin your day with a special visit to Monte Sant’ Angelo. Enjoy breathtaking views of the Gargano Peninsula and visit one of the most celebrated shrines of early Christianity, the Grotto of Michael the Archangel. Many popes and saints have knelt and prayed at this grotto, seeking the protection of Saint Michael. Later, return to San Giovanni Rotondo and celebrate Mass in the sanctuary of Padre Pio. This is followed by a tour of the sanctuary, including the old church and the crucifix from which he received the stigmata in 1918. Also visit the new church dedicated in 2004 to Saint Pio of Pietrelcina. You will also see the confessional where Padre Pio spent many hours directing pilgrims on their journey toward God.
Day #8 San Giovanni Rotondo - Loreto - Assisi - Travel the Adriatic Coast to the Marian shrine of Loreto. Visit the Holy House of Nazareth and the beautiful Madonna of Loreto where more than 50 popes have made a pilgrimage. You will celebrate Mass before crossing the Apennine Mountains en route to Assisi, birthplace of St. Francis.
Day #9 Assisi - Optional Florence Excursion - Enjoy a full day at leisure to independently explore historic Assisi. Or, if you prefer, join a full day optional excursion to Florence, the “Renaissance City,” where a local expert provides a leisurely paced walking tour featuring the Piazza Del Duomo, the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, one of the largest in the Christian world; the Museum of the Opera del Duomo, and the Baptistery doors. You also view the Palazzo Vecchio, and the Ponte Vecchio. Enjoy several hours of leisure in Florence before returning to Assisi.
Day #10 Assisi - Begin your morning with a special visit to St. Mary of the Angels Basilica, where St. Francis spent most of his life. Enjoy a visit to the Chapel of the Porziuncola, the rose bush, and the cave where the saint prayed. Later, visit the Church of St. Clare who founded the Order of Poor Clares and followed the teachings of St. Francis by living a life of poverty and humility. You will also be able to see and kneel before the crucifix from which Jesus spoke to St. Francis, asking him to rebuild his church. A local expert will provide an interesting tour of Assisi highlighting the huge 13th century basilica where you can see many of St. Francis’ possessions and a series of frescoes depicting his life. Celebrate Mass in the basilica of St. Francis followed be a free afternoon in this beautiful Umbrian hill town. This evening, join your fellow travelers for a farewell dinner celebrating the end of a memorable pilgrimage to Italy.
Day #11 Assisi - Tour Ends -