9 Day Italy

Day 1: U.S.A. - EUROPE. Tour members depart to Venice. Dinner is served aboard the flight.

Day 2: ARRIVE VENICE/MESTRE. Upon our arrival at the airport, we are met and transferred to our hotel. Afterwards, we pay a visit to the nearby St. Anthony Basilica. Dinner and overnight at our hotel.

Day 3: VENICE. Today begins with a sightseeing Pilgrimage of Venice. Included is St. Mark's Square with the Byzantine Basilica San Marco where we celebrate a private Mass. Visit the Palace of the Doges and the Academy of Fine Arts. We may take an optional Gondola ride at the Bridge of Sighs. Dinner and overnight at our hotel in Mestre.

Day 4: VENICE - FLORENCE. Today, we travel to Florence across serene Tuscan countryside. Along the way, we stop in Verona or Ravenna (a UNESCO city full of art, history and spirituality). We arrive in Florence - the city considered to be the cultural heart of Italy and former stronghold of the Medici family.

Day 5: FLORENCE. A paradise for art lovers, Florence drew to itself the greatest artists of the Renaissance: Dante, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael, Botticelli, Donatello and many others. After Mass at a local church, we enjoy guided Pilgrimage of Florence which includes magnificent Santa Maria del Fiore, Giotto's Bell Tower, The Baptistery?s heavy bronze "Gate of Paradise" the Academy of Fine Arts containing many treasures, the Ponte Vecchio, The Duomo - whose magnificent dome was created by Brunelleschi. Dinner and overnight at our hotel.

Day 6: FLORENCE - ASSISI - ROME. This morning, we drive the Autostrada del Sole across the Roman countryside towards Rome. Along the way, we stop for a visit in Assisi. See the quaint hilltop birthplace of St Francis that still retains something of the atmosphere of the early 1200?s - the period when St Francis began his ministry. Contained within the huge 13th-century Basilica are many of the saint's possessions and a series of frescoes depicting his life. Mass at the tomb of St Francis. Stroll the medieval streets of the compact little town. After stopping at an outdoor cafe with a view of an ancient Roman temple, we go to the Church of St Clare to see the saint's incorrupt body. Visit the Chapel, Portiuncola, the rose bush and the cave where the saint retired for prayer. Dinner and overnight at our hotel in Rome.

Day 7: ROME. After breakfast, we may attend an audience with our Holy Father if available (Wednesdays only). During the afternoon, our Pilgrimage of ancient Rome highlights includes the Appian Way, Palatine Hill, the Roman Forum, Arch of Constantine, the Catacombs and Circus Maximus. Dinner and overnight at our hotel.

Day 8: ROME. After breakfast, we visit The Vatican City including the Vatican Museum and Gallery, Raphael's Rooms, the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter's Basilica. This afternoon is at leisure to see the Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps or activities of our own. Celebrate Mass at a local church. Dinner and overnight at our hotel.

Day 9: ROME - U.S.A. Early departure from Rome to the United States - the end of a most enjoyable Pilgrimage.