Experience Italy as the center of the Catholic faith. Begin in Florence where art and Christianity meet. Follow in the footsteps of St. Catherine in Siena and St. Francis in Assisi. While in Rome, attend a special Papal Audience and learn how both ancient history and Catholicism shaped the magnificent Eternal City.
Depart the United States on your overnight flight to begin your Classic Catholic Italy tour.
Upon arrival in Rome, you and your English speaking tour escort will join your private motorcoach driver for a transfer to Florence, with a stop in Montecatino Terme. Relax on your scenic drive north through the landscapes of Lazio and Tuscany. Arrive in Montecatini Terme – a Tuscan spa town. The town’s modern baths were first constructed in the 18th century and became a popular destination for artists, musicians and composers during the Belle Epoque era. Today, it’s Italy’s top destination for thermal spa treatments. Have a leisurely afternoon exploring this charming town and enjoy lunch on your own. After a short drive through Tuscany, arrive in the magnificent city of Florence – the flourishing center of the Renaissance and medieval center of Europe’s trade and finance. Check-in to your 4* hotel and later share your first group meal together with dinner at your hotel (including ½ liter water and ¼ liter wine per person).
Breakfast included at your hotel. Begin your day with a celebration of Holy Mass. Depart from your hotel with your private motorcoach and English speaking guide for a drive across the Arno River to the Piazzale Michelangelo, a hilltop spot with breathtaking panoramic views of the entire city of Florence. Travel to the historic center of Florence to the Basilica of San Lorenzo which houses the Medici Chapels – the official church and mausoleum of the Medici family. Marvel at the early architectural and sculpture work of Michelangelo, prior to his move from Florence for Rome. Head over to the Piazza del Duomo and take in the beauty of the marble facades. The Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore is the main attraction and its red dome, built by Brunelleschi, defines the Florentine skyline. The Duomo’s bronze Baptistery doors were called the “Gates of Paradise” by Michelangelo. Continue your tour to the city’s main square, the Piazza della Signoria. Here you’ll see the impressive Palazzo Vecchio, the seat of city government beginning in the 14th century. In front of the Palazzo Vecchio is the stunning Neptune’s Fountain. The Loggia dei Lanzi is an open-air sculpture gallery next to the world-renowned Uffizi Gallery. See such Renaissance masterpieces as Perseus With the Head of Medusa and The Rape of The Sabine Women. The remainder of the day is at your leisure to further explore Florence at your own pace. Lunch and dinner are on your own.
Breakfast included at your hotel. Begin your day with a celebration of Holy Mass. Depart from your hotel with your private motorcoach and English speaking guide for a tour of the Basilica of Santa Croce (Holy Cross). Building of the basilica began in the late 13th century and today is the largest Franciscan church in the world – legend says it was founded by St. Francis of Assisi. Don’t miss the stunning frescoes by artists such as Giotto and Gaddi and the famous tombs of Michelangelo, Galileo, Machiavelli and Rossini. The remainder of the day is at your leisure for shopping, personal adventures or an optional excursion. Lunch and dinner are on your own.
Breakfast included at hotel. Depart from your hotel with your private motorcoach and English speaking guide for a drive to the city of Assisi, with a stop in the city of Siena along the way. Drive through the Tuscan hills into the medieval city of Siena. Visit the Basilica of St. Dominic to celebrate Holy Mass at the relics of St. Catherine. Born in Siena in 1347, St. Catherine is venerated as a Doctor of the Church and is known for her influence on the Papacy. Your English speaking guide will take you on a tour to the city’s main square, Piazza del Campo. This seashell-shaped square is known for its annual horse races called Il Palio. Enjoy some free time and lunch on your own before departing for Assisi. Enjoy the landscape as you enter Umbria and arrive at the hilltop town of Assisi, home of St. Francis. Check-in to your 4* hotel and have dinner tonight at your hotel (including ½ liter water and ¼ liter wine per person).
Breakfast included at hotel. Begin your day with a celebration of Holy Mass. After mass, your English speaking local guide will begin a tour of the Basilica of St. Francis which was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000. Learn about the magnificent frescoes painted by Giotto that depict the life of St. Francis. Embark on a walking pilgrimage tour through Assisi to the Piazza del Comune and the Temple of Minerva. This Roman temple was built in the 1st century BC and dedicated to Minerva, the goddess of wisdom. Since 1539, it’s been The Basilica of Saint Mary Above Minerva and is decorated in the Baroque style. Pass near the Chiesa Nuova (New Church) which was built on the birthplace of St. Francis. Finally, a short walk will bring you to the Basilica of St. Clare where you’ll see the original San Damiano Cross. It was while praying before this cross that St. Francis received the Lord’s command to “Rebuild my Church”. The Basilica also houses the crypt of St. Clare where you can view her “incorrupted” remains. After your walking tour, please enjoy the remainder of your day at leisure to explore the rest of Assisi with lunch and dinner on your own.
Breakfast included at hotel. Depart from your hotel with your private motorcoach and English speaking guide for a drive to the lower area of Assisi for a celebration of Holy Mass, followed by a tour of the Basilica of St. Mary of the Angels. Inside the Basilica, see the Porziuncola, the small chapel in which St. Francis accepted his vocation and the Franciscan order was created. Relax on your drive through Umbria as you approach Rome – The Eternal City. Based upon your arrival time in Rome, lunch will be on your own during the tour. Continue your tour by entering one of the most illustrious churches dedicated to Our Lady, the Basilica of St. Mary Major. Under the high altar is the Nativity Crypt containing ancient wood once belonging to Jesus’ manger in Bethlehem. Marvel at the ornate gilded ceiling as well as the beautiful 5th century mosaics that adorn the nave and the apse. You might get a chance to go to the upper floor of the Basilica to see the beautiful angels and then view the staircase designed by famous sculptor and architect Bernini. After the Basilica, transfer to the Church of St. Peter in Chains which houses the original chains used to imprison St. Peter both in Jerusalem and in Rome. You’ll also see Moses, the majestic sculpture done by Michelangelo for the tomb of Pope Julius II.
Check-in to your 4* hotel in Rome and enjoy dinner tonight at your hotel (including ½ liter water and ¼ liter wine per person).
Breakfast included at hotel. Depart from your hotel to attend a Papal Audience at the Basilica of St. Peter with His Holiness Pope Francis. After the Papal Audience and a break for lunch on your own, drive to the Basilica of St. John Lateran which is the Cathedral Church of Rome and the ecclesiastical seat of the Pope. Admire the Basilica’s richly adorned interior including the Baroque era statues of the Twelve Apostles and the tombs of six former Popes. Next door to the Basilica is the Sanctuary of the Holy Stairs. These are the stairs believed to have belonged in Pontius Pilate’s palace in Jerusalem and were climbed by Jesus the day he was sentenced to death. They were brought to Rome in the 4th century by Saint Helena. At the top of the stairs is the Sancta Sanctorum, formerly the private chapel of The Pope. Next, you’ll drive to the southern outskirts of Rome to the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls. Before entering, you’ll pass through a large and impressive courtyard and view the marvelous mosaic on the Basilica’s frieze above the entrance. The nave, framed by 80 granite columns, leads to the tomb of St. Paul. A short distance from the basilica are the Catacombs of Domitilla. Enter the well-preserved catacombs and learn about the lives of early Christians. Excavated in the late 4th century, these catacombs contain the only underground Basilica open to the public. You’ll celebrate Holy Mass here before returning to your hotel. The remainder of your evening and dinner tonight are at your leisure.
Breakfast included at the hotel. Depart from your hotel with your private motorcoach and English speaking guide and go directly to the Vatican to celebrate Holy Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica. Mass will be celebrated in the Crypt very close to the tomb of St. Peter. As you walk through and pray, thoughts are flooded with the events that have taken place here and the people who have worshiped in this great center of the Church. Enter the Vatican Museums for a tour with your English speaking guide. Tour the treasures of the Vatican Museum, including the awesome frescoes by Michelangelo in the Sistine Chapel. Learn more about the Basilica of St. Peter with an in depth visit and guided tour. Take the remainder of your day to explore Rome on your own. Perhaps some shopping, museums or historical treasures of Ancient Rome will interest you. Lunch and dinner is at your leisure.
Breakfast included at your hotel. Transfer with assistance by your private motorcoach from your hotel in Rome to Rome Fiumicino Airport. Say “Ciao Italia!” as you return home with meaningful memories of your Classic Catholic Italy tour.