ST AUGUSTINE'S CHURCH
GRAND CATHOLIC ITALY
September 17-27, 2013
$2769 pp $407 single supplement
On this marvelous vacation through Italy, travel from Rome to Venice and experience much of Italy’s splendor. In Rome, attend the weekly general audience of the Pope (subject to availability) and see some of the most famous and sacred sights, including the Holy Stairs, brought to Rome from Jerusalem around 326 AD and today a favorite of pilgrims; St. Peter’s Square and Basilica; the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel, famous for Michelangelo’s The Last Judgment; the Catacombs; the Colosseum; the Roman Forum; St. Paul Outside the Walls; and much more.
Explore the life of St. Rita—known as the “Saint of the Impossible”—in Cascia and the lives of St. Francis and St. Clare in Assisi. In Assisi, you’ll celebrate Mass, see the crucifix that spoke to St. Francis, visit the place where he came to meditate and pray, go to the Franciscan shrine built in the spot where he heard the voice of Christ, and visit the place where he founded the Franciscan Order of Friars Minor in 1209.
In Siena, Florence, and Milan, enjoy walking tours that cover the must-see sights, including Milan’s Church of Santa Maria Delle Grazie to see Leonardo da Vinci’s world-famous The Last Supper. Enjoy Mass in Padua before arriving in romantic Venice, where you’ll see the must-see sights, have time to explore the wonderful shops, or even attend Mass at St. Mark’s Basilica.
These are just some of the many highlights on this vacation through Italy—a trip of a lifetime!
Day 1 Arrive in Rome, Italy
Time to rest or to start exploring the “Eternal City.” At 5 pm, meet your Tour Director, then enjoy this evening’s welcome dinner with wine at a local restaurant. (Dinner)
Day 2 Rome
Attend the weekly general audience of the Pope (subject to availability). This afternoon, visit ST. PAUL OUTSIDE THE WALLS and the CATACOMBS. During the persecutions, the catacombs were used as places of refuge for the celebration of the Eucharist. Next, visit ST. JOHN LATERAN BASILICA, the HOLY STAIRS, which were brought from Jerusalem to Rome around 326 AD by St. Helena, mother of Constantine the Great. As a favorite of pilgrims everywhere, these 28 white marble steps may only be ascended on the knees. Then, visit the impressive ST. MARY MAJOR BASILICA. (Breakfast)
Day 3 Rome
This morning, enjoy a guided visit of the VATICAN MUSEUMS and the SISTINE CHAPEL, world famous for Michelangelo’s ceiling paintings and The Last Judgment. Continue to monumental ST. PETER’S SQUARE and BASILICA. Cross the Tiber River and visit the COLOSSEUM, one of the New 7 Wonders of the World®, and the ROMAN FORUM, where Roman legions marched in triumph. (Breakfast)
Day 4 Rome–Cascia–Assisi
Enter Umbria and stop in the town of Cascia to explore the life of St. Rita, known as the “Saint of the Impossible.” Visit the MAJOR BASILICA, the chapel that houses the tomb of St. Rita, and the MINOR BASILICA, home of the Eucharistic Miracle, which is commemorated each year with the Feast of Corpus Christi. Arrive at the hilltop village of Assisi, home of St. Francis and St. Clare. Here, visit ST. MARY OF THE ANGELS BASILICA, where St. Francis consecrated St. Clare as the “Bride of Christ,” and the PORTIUNCOLA, where he founded the Franciscan Order of Friars Minor in 1209. (Breakfast, Dinner)
Day 5 Assisi
Celebrate Mass this morning followed by a guided walking tour of Assisi. Visit the BASILICAS OF ST. FRANCIS and ST. CLARE, and see the crucifix that spoke to St. Francis. A short trip by minibus will take you to the CARCERI HERMITAGE, where St. Francis came to meditate and pray, an oasis of peace and tranquility in the midst of the woods of Mount Subasio. Finally, visit the MONASTERY OF ST. DAMIAN, a Franciscan shrine built on the spot where St. Francis heard the voice of Christ, and where he wrote the Canticle of the Creatures. The convent founded by St. Clare is still intact; here she died in 1253. This afternoon you may wish to join an optional excursion to magnificent Spello. (Breakfast)
Day 6 Assisi-Siena-Florence
Leave Assisi and enter Tuscany. Stop in Siena to visit beautiful PIAZZA DEL CAMPO, theater of the biannual Palio, Siena’s spectacular medieval-style horse race. Then, enjoy a walk with a local expert through the ancient narrow lanes and visit the SANCTUARY OF ST. CATHERINE and the BASILICA OF ST. DOMINIC. In the afternoon, continue to Florence, “Cradle of the Renaissance.” (Breakfast, Dinner)
Day 7 Florence
Follow your Local Guide on a walking tour through Florence’s historical center. Visit the SANTA MARIA NOVELLA BASILICA, admire the Duomo, Giotto’s Bell Tower, the Baptistry’s heavy bronze “Gate of Paradise,” and visit sculpture-studded SIGNORIA SQUARE. Also visit the SANTA CROCE BASILICA with the tombs of Michelangelo, Dante, Rossini, and others. (Breakfast)
Day 8 Florence-Pavia-Milan
Through the Apennine Mountains, arrive in the flat Po area and in picturesque Pavia. Here enjoy a guided visit of the Carthusian CERTOSA MONASTERY, founded by a member of Milan’s Visconti family in the 14th century as a private family chapel, and which housed only 12 monks. Continue to Milan, Italy’s commercial and fashion capital, also renowned for its Duomo, the Galleria, and the Scala Theater. Follow your Local Guide on a walking tour of this fascinating city. Also on the agenda a special visit to the CHURCH OF SANTA MARIA DELLE GRAZIE to see Leonardo da Vinci’s world-famous The Last Supper. This evening dinner has been prepared at one of Milan’s fine restaurants. (Breakfast, Dinner)
Day 9 Milan–Padua–Venice
Depart for Padua and meet your Local Guide. Visit the BASILICA OF ST. ANTHONY to see the tomb and reliquaries of this miracle-working saint and patron of lost and stolen articles, and enjoy Mass. Journey on to Venice, one of the world’s most romantic cities. Tonight is your chance to sample one of Venice’s fine restaurants. (Breakfast)
Day 10 Venice
This morning, enter in style by PRIVATE BOAT and start sightseeing with your Local Guide. Visit ST. MARK’S SQUARE and its BASILICA, lavish DOGES’ PALACE and the BRIDGE OF SIGHS. Also watch skilled GLASSBLOWERS fashion their delicate objects in an age-old traditional manner. The afternoon is at leisure. You may wish to join an optional gondola serenade or attend Mass at the Basilica. This evening, enjoy a farewell dinner with wine. (Breakfast, Dinner)
Day 11 Venice
Your vacation ends with breakfast this morning. (Breakfast)
Welcome dinner at a local restaurant; guided sightseeing, visit St. Paul Outside the Walls, the Catacombs, St. John Lateran Basilica, the Holy Stairs, St. Mary Major Basilica, the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel, St. Peter’s Square and Basilica, the Colosseum, and the Roman Forum; Papal audience (subject to availability)
Visit the Major and Minor Basilicas
Visit the St. Mary of the Angels Basilica and the Portiuncola;celebrate Mass; guided walking tour, visit the Basilicas of St. Francis and St. Clare, the Carceri Hermitage and Monastery of St. Damian
Guided walking tour, visit the Basilica of St. Dominic, the Sanctuary of St. Catherine, and Piazza del Campo
Guided walking tour, visit the santa maria Novella Basilica, Signoria Square, and Santa Croce Basilica
PAVIA Visit the Certosa Monestary
MILAN Guided walking tour: visit Santa Maria delle Grazie with Leonardo Da Vinci's Last supper
Guided visit of St. Anthony’s Basilica
Private boat ride; guided walking tour, visit St. Mark’s Square and Basilica, Doges’ Palace and the Bridge of Sighs; glassblowers’ demonstration; farewell dinner
Headsets throughout the tour
Inside visits and special features are shown in the description, including admission charges when applicable.
Full buffet breakfast; 5 three-course dinners, including a special welcome dinner in Rome and a farewell dinner
SUPERIOR HOTELS - (D) Deluxe (SF) Superior First-Class (F) First-Class
ROME Albani (F), ASSISI Giotto (F), FLORENCE Hilton Garden Inn (F), VENICE Plaza (F) at Mestre
The following list of optional excursions are examples only for this vacation. These optional excursions might or might not be offered. Whether it's a special dinner, a local show or a special behind-the-scenes glimpse into an historical site, optional excursions are a wonderful way to enrich your vacation even further. Plus, they give you flexibility. We include the must-see sites and experiences, and we also understand that people take interest in different activities and may want to craft a more personal vacation by hand-picking optional excursions that appeal to them.
Availability is subject to sufficient participation, weather conditions, seasonal suitability, days of operation, group interests, and general feasibility for your vacation. The approximate value listed gives you a good, general idea of what you can expect to pay but may vary once you are on your vacation. Some information provided might be in a foreign currency'
Enjoy an unforgettable drive through some of the more exclusive streets of the "Eternal City". Marvel at the impressive piazzas, fountains and ancient buildings in all their majesty and much more...
Approximate value: €29 EUR per person
Roman Highlights & Dinner
A guided stroll through the historical center of Rome: your Tour Director will propose a tailor-made itinerary featuring some of the city's authentic jewels. For instance: Trastevere and its basilica of Santa Maria, the baroque district, Campo de' Fiori, the Pantheon, San Luigi dei Francesi, famous Piazza Navona, Via dei Condotti, Piazza del Popolo with its church of Santa Maria del Popolo and displays of Caravaggio paintings. After your walk, relax and enjoy a four-course dinner, including drinks, at a popular Roman restaurant.
Approximate value: €68 EUR per person
Jewels of Tuscany
Explore Montepulciano, a well-preserved medieval hilltop town, famous for its local wine "Nobile di Montepulciano". Continue on charming, Renaissance Pienza, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with its monumental piazza, considered a grand achievement of Renaissance architecture. During your free time admire the splendid 15th-century Duomo and sample the area¿s renowned pecorino cheese.
Approximate value: €39 EUR per person
Magnificent Spello with Dinner
Take a short drive south to reach beautiful Spello. Admire the well-preserved Roman stone arches which form entry gates into the old town and the medieval tower with an olive tree on top, symbol of peace and of the most typical local product-olive oil. Stroll through the narrow cobblestone streets with their simple but elegant houses built from pink and white limestone and soak up the unique atmosphere of this charming Umbrian town. Enjoy dinner with wine or soft drinks at a charming local restaurant to taste the specialties of this region.
Approximate value: €53 EUR per person
Excursion to San Gimignano: The Medieval Manhattan
Journey through the celebrated Tuscan countryside to discover the charming village of San Gimignano, known for its famous towers, white Vernaccia wine, saffron and olive oil. Legend has it that in the 12th century, rival families of San Gimignano began a tower building competition to display their power and wealth - and 72 towers were built. Today the remaining 14 towers earn the town its modern designation as "medieval Manhattan"
Approximate value: €36 EUR per person
Highlights of Uffizi Gallery
With your Local Guide, visit one of the earliest museums in modern Europe with the world's finest collection of Italian and Florentine art. Gain fascinating insight into paintings by the great Masters Giotto, Boticelli, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raffaello and Tiziano.
Approximate value: €35 EUR per person
Drive out to the Tuscan Hills and enjoy a traditional Tuscan meal, including drinks, in a picturesque country setting.
Approximate value: €56 EUR per person
A Venetian Night Out Including Transfer
Travel by private water taxi along the splendid Grand Canal with its elegant palaces to a fine Venetian restaurant. Taste four mouth-watering courses of local specialties and wine or soft drinks. After dinner there is time to explore and absorb the unique, romantic atmosphere of Venice by night.
Approximate value: €71 EUR per person
Enjoy a ride in a traditional gondola, gliding through centuries-old canals, under famous arched bridges, past lavish palaces and quaint piazzas. The Gondola's long, narrow, flat-bottomed boats with a high prow and stern, were designed specifically for the Venetian canals and made in unique shipyards called Squero. Black is the obligatory color, due to a law passed to reduce how the rich and noble over-decorated their personal craft. The 'comb' at the front of the gondola is made of iron and serves not only to balance the boat, but is also the symbol of gondolas and Venice - the six toothed comb represents the six Venetian districts: "i sestieri".
Approximate value: €38 EUR per person
Lagoon Cruise and Meal in Burano
Appreciate the peaceful vistas of the Lagoon while you glide past the islands of Santa Elena, San Michele and the famous Lido. On picturesque Burano island, renowned for its lace making and colorful houses, savor a mouth-watering meal, with drinks included. Afterward there's time to shop and stroll.
Approximate value: €69 EUR per person
Payments are refundable until January 15, at whic time all payments become fully non-refundable.