Day 1 ARRIVE IN ROME, ITALY.
Welcome to Italy! Check into your hotel, with rest of the day free to explore on your own. This afternoon, meet your Tour Director and fellow travelers, and prepare for your upcoming spiritual journey. Later this evening, a welcome dinner awaits at your hotel.
Day 2 ROME.
This morning, attend the PAPAL AUDIENCE (subject to availability) for the chance to see the Pope and receive the Papal Blessing. Later, with a Local Guide visit ST. PAUL OUTSIDE THE WALLS, burial place of St. Paul the Apostle and one of Rome’s four major Papal basilicas, along with ST. JOHN LATERAN BASILICA, built by Constantine the Great in the 4th century. Next, visit the Papal sanctuary of the SCALA SANCTA (Holy Stairs), transported from Jerusalem to Rome around 326 AD by St. Helena, Emperor Constantine’s mother. These 28 marble steps are traditionally ascended in a kneeling position with a prayer recital dedicated to Jesus Christ. Then, visit the impressive ST. MARY MAJOR BASILICA and attend [M] Mass.
Day 3 ROME. EXCURSION TO CASTEL GANDOLFO.
A different, quite unique experience is offered today. We will take an included excursion to Castel Gandolfo, a quaint village in the hills outside Rome, to visit the PAPAL SUMMER RESIDENCE and GARDENS with a Local Guide. Visit the rooms that have been occupied by many popes over the centuries and enjoy the opportunity to reflect and meditate in quiet and relaxing surroundings. In the afternoon, enjoy time at leisure in Rome or join the optional excursion to the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel, world famous for Michelangelo’s impressive fresco of The Last Judgment.
Day 4 ROME–PIETRELCINA–SAN GIOVANNI ROTONDO.
Before leaving the capital city of Italy, step back in time with the help of a Local Guide and experience the power and beauty of Imperial Rome on the included orientation. On your way south, stop in quaint Pietrelcina, birthplace of the beloved St. Pio, before heading towards San Giovanni Rotondo on the east coast, the Saint’s home from 1916 until his death in 1968.
Day 5 SAN GIOVANNI ROTONDO. EXCURSION TO MONTE SANT’ANGELO.
Attend [M] Mass this morning at SANTA MARIA DELLE GRAZIE (Old Church), then visit the FRIARY of Padre Pio, including his tomb, cell, confessional, and the PADRE PIO PILGRIMAGE CHURCH (New Church). Afterwards, take a short drive to the nearby SHRINE OF MONTE SANT’ANGELO, one of Christendom’s most celebrated shrines, where St. Michael the Archangel appeared in 490, 492, and 1656.
Day 6 SAN GIOVANNI ROTONDO–LANCIANO–LORETO–ASSISI AREA.
Visit ST. FRANCIS’ church in Lanciano, home of the Sanctuary of the Eucharistic Miracle, and attend morning [M] Mass. Continue to the LORETO SANCTUARY, including the HOLY HOUSE, where, according to tradition, angels transported the home of the blessed Virgin Mary. Arrive at the hilltop village of Assisi, home of St. Francis and St. Clare.
Day 7 ASSISI.
Today, learn more about St. Francis, patron saint of animals and the environment. Attend early morning [M] Mass at ST. FRANCIS BASILICA, famous for its 14th-century Giotto paintings depicting the life of St. Francis. Meet your Local Guide and visit the UPPER and LOWER BASILICAS of St. Francis and the BASILICA OF ST. CLARE, founder of the Order of Poor Clares. Next, visit the BASILICA of Santa Maria degli Angeli, situated at the foot of Assisi’s hills and protecting the Porziuncola, where St. Francis is said to have founded the Order of Friars Minor in 1209, and the Cappella del Transito, where the saint died in 1226.
Day 8 ASSISI AREA–CASCIA–ROME.
Travel to Cascia this morning, situated in Umbria and home of St. Rita, the “Patron Saint of Impossible Causes.” Visit the SANCTUARY and see the Major Basilica, the chapel that houses the tomb of St. Rita. Also, see the Minor Basilica, home of the Eucharistic Miracle that is commemorated each year with the Feast of Corpus Christi. Return to Rome for a final overnight stay.
Day 9 ROME.
Your vacation ends with breakfast this morning.