April 20: Our pilgrimage to Italy begins as we depart Phoenix, Arizona for an overnight flight to Rome, Italy.
April 21: Upon arrival into Rome, we’ll transfer via deluxe motor coach to Assisi, home of the Franciscan Order. Following hotel check-in and some leisure time, we will celebrate Mass for us at the Hermitage of Carceri, located in the hills of Assisi. Dinner. Overnight Assisi
After breakfast, we will visit the quaint hilltop birthplace of St. Francis that still retains something of the atmosphere of the early 1200s, when St. Francis began his ministry. After lunch at one of the trattorias in Assisi, we will proceed to the Church of St. Clare to view the Saint’s body, barely corrupt since her death centuries ago. St. Clare was the foundress of the Order of Poor Clare’s. Then on to the basilica of St. Francis, to view some of the saint’s possessions and the many frescoes depicting his life. While at the Basilica, our Spiritual Directors will celebrate Mass. A quick bus ride to the lower village for dinner. Overnight Assisi
Following breakfast, we leave the hilltop town for the lower village of Assisi to visit St. Mary of the Angels, where St. Francis spent most of his life. We’ll visit the Chapel Portiuncola, the rose bush and the cave where the saint retired for prayer. Next, we depart for Florence, located on the Arno River. Our guided tour will include the magnificent Franciscan church of Santa Croce with it’s beautiful facade, a burial place of nobles, including Michelangelo and Galileo. We’ll continue through Republic Square to the Santa Maria del Fiore, a 13th century cathedral. Time permitting, there will be an opportunity to explore the numerous museums, before returning to Assisi. Dinner and an evening at leisure. Overnight Assisi
We depart Assisi for the beautiful Amalfi Coast. Enroute we will visit the gorgeous hilltop town of Orvieto. The town sits on a 1,000-foot high rock formation, poetically crowned by Italy’s most renowned Gothic cathedral. Because of its strategic location, Orvieto for centuries served as a refuge for the popes in troubled times. We visit the famous Cathedral housing the corporeale of the Miracle of the Eucharist in Bolsena where we will celebrate Mass. Our pilgrimage continues on to Sorrento and the Almalfi Coastline, the next stop being the town of Positano. There we will visit St. Andrew’s relics and the tomb of St. Philomena. We arrive in the town of Sorrento, where we overnight for two nights. This town offers stunning panoramic views of the bay of Naples, where you will marvel at the picturesque narrow streets, parks, and villas. Dinner. Overnight Sorrento
This morning we board a hydrofoil for a visit to the island of Capri, one of the most picturesque islands in the world *weather permitting. Starting with the Grotta Azzurra (the “Blue Grotto”), now known to have been a Roman bathing place. Depending on time, we will take a tour of Mount Solaro, Villa San Michele, and the Church of San Michele. We will continue on to Pompeii, visiting one of the most important and interesting archaeological museums in the world, having been buried in the ashes of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 AD. We will also visit the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Pompeii. Dinner. Overnight Sorrento
All roads lead to Rome. Our first stop along the way is Montecassino, a beautiful town founded by Saint Benedict in 529. Onto Rome by way of the Colosseum, Arch of Constantine and the Forum. Dinner. Overnight Rome
We visit the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls (the burial place of St. Paul, one of the five patriarchal Basilicas and the second largest church in Rome. In the afternoon we will visit the Patriarchal Basilica of St. Mary Major. We also visit Santa Pudenziana, one of the oldest churches in Rome, where St. Peter and St. Paul resided for a time. Finally, we visit Santa Prassede a 9th-century basilica with glorious Byzantine mosaics celebrating images from the book of Revelation. Dinner and evening at leisure. Overnight Rome
Today Ancient Rome will be explored beginning with Mass at the Church of Santa Maria Ara Coeli (a Church on the Capitoline Hill which commemorates a vision of Augustus Caesar of the Virgin Mary). Next we will visit the Mamertine Prison where St. Peter and St. Paul were imprisoned for 9 months. We also visit the remnants of the Roman Forum around the Colosseum. After lunch we will visit the Church of San Clemente where each of its three levels has historical and spiritual significance. Dinner, an opportunity for an optional walking tour to Piazza Navona. There we will enjoy the beautiful Fountain of the Four Rivers while tasting some Italian Gelato. Overnight Rome
Following breakfast, we have an early departure for St. Peter’s Square to participate in the Papal Audience (subject to the Pope’s schedule). After lunch, we have a guided tour of the Vatican Museum, the Sistine Chapel, and St. Peter’s Basilica. Tonight we gather for our Farewell Dinner. Overnight Rome
With a renewed sense of pilgrimage, we will board our plane for our return flight home.