Discover the spiritual highlights of Italy with the Grand Catholic tour. From Venice in the north down to the spectacular Amalfi Coast, experience your faith surrounded by centuries of Christian art and history. A special Papal Audience with His Holiness Pope Francis makes your journey even that more meaningful.
Departure from the United States on your overnight flight to begin your Grand Catholic Italy tour.
Upon arrival in Venice, you will be met by your English speaking tour escort. Private motorcoach transfer to your hotel in Venice (Mestre). Relax and make yourself comfortable for the remainder of the day at your 4* hotel. Later, share your first group meal together with dinner at your hotel (including ½ liter mineral water and ¼ liter red or white wine per person).
Breakfast included at your hotel. Transfer into the historical center of Venice – long known as the Queen of the Cities. Go on a walking tour of Venice with your English speaking local guide. Its unique location, design and rich history makes Venice one of the most interesting cities in the world. Take in the city’s canals, bridges, piazzas and palazzos as you start your tour in St. Mark’s Square – the iconic center of the city. St. Mark’s Basilica is Venice’s largest cathedral which originally began as the private chapel for the Doge and other Venetian aristocracy. Enter the basilica and marvel at the golden mosaics and Byzantine influenced architecture and historic furnishings. You’ll also celebrate Holy Mass at St. Mark’s Basilica. Attached to the Basilica is the landmark Doge’s Palace, the administrative seat of the Venetian Republic and opulent residence of the Venetian doges. Today, this magnificent museum is a masterpiece of Gothic architecture where one’s allowed to explore its large halls, rooms, courtyard, armory and prison. Continue your walking tour with an external view of the famous Bridge of Sighs. This enclosed stone passageway was designed to link the palace’s interrogation rooms to the city’s prison and is thusly named for the sound prisoners would make while getting their final view of Venice prior to their imprisonment. Before the end of your guided tour, view the famous Campanile – the bell tower in St. Mark’s Square, a memorable symbol of the city located just opposite the Basilica and the Doge’s Palace. After your walking tour, please enjoy the remainder of your day at leisure. Perhaps you’ll do some shopping or participate in an optional romantic gondola ride (€30 per person). 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 short drive to the city of Padova – a medieval city-state and university center since the 13th century. Celebrate morning Mass at the Basilica of St. Anthony. The Basilica, designed in multiple architectural styles, houses both the tomb and the relics of St. Anthony. See the famous statue in front of the Basilica by sculptor Donatello of former military leader Gattamelata “The Honey-Cat”. Travel through the Veneto and Emilia Romagna regions of Italy and through the city of Bologna. 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 enjoy dinner at your hotel (including ½ liter mineral water and ¼ liter red or white wine per person).
Breakfast included at hotel. 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 before he moved from Florence to 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. Enjoy lunch on your own. This afternoon, you’ll celebrate Holy Mass at 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 evening and dinner tonight is at your leisure.
Breakfast included at hotel. Depart from your hotel with your private motorcoach and English speaking guide for a drive to the city of Assisi; but first you’ll 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 – it’s also the home to 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, 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 at your hotel (including ½ liter mineral water and ¼ liter red or white 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 will 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. Today is a travel day. Relax on your drive south toward the Mediterranean to wonderful Sorrento – the gateway to the Amalfi Coast. Stop for lunch on your own along the way. Upon arrival in Sorrento, check-in to your 4* hotel and the remainder of your day is at leisure. Enjoy a group dinner tonight at your hotel (including ½ liter mineral water and ¼ liter red or white wine per person).
Breakfast included at hotel. Depart from your hotel with your private motorcoach for a transfer to the Sorrento pier for a full day excursion to the island of Capri. Enjoy the hydrofoil that takes you across from Sorrento to Capri. Upon arrival, celebrate Holy Mass. Your English speaking local guide will accompany you as you discover this magical island. The main town of Capri has chic shops and restaurants and the famous ‘Piazzetta’ Umberto I. The colorful Gardens of Augustus overlook the famous Faraglioni rocks and the Marina Piccola. Travel to the elevated village of Anacapri and then continue on for an optional tour of the famous Blue Grotto (weather permitting). Have some free time and lunch on your own. Return via hydrofoil to Sorrento and enjoy the remaining free time and dinner at your leisure.
Breakfast included at your hotel. Depart from your hotel with your private motorcoach and your English speaking guide for a tour of the picturesque town of Amalfi and historic town of Pompeii before travelling to Rome. Travel along the sea with unparalleled views of the Mediterranean and the Amalfi coastline. Pass through the town of Positano – a small town with one of the most beautiful landscapes in the world. Drive through the gorgeous seaside villages of Praiano, Furore and Conca dei Marini before arriving in the town of Amalfi. Famous for its panoramic views and its original handmade paper production, Amalfi is also known for its Duomo Saint Andrea including the Cloister of Paradise – a hidden oasis built in the 13th century. Continue your drive north to the ancient city of Pompeii – destroyed and covered in volcanic ash in 79 A.D. by neighboring Mt. Vesuvius. A local guide will show how this ancient Roman city was unearthed after extensive excavation work. Take some time to walk the excavated streets and see the amphitheater, thermal baths, houses and temples. You’ll see first-hand how daily Pompeiian life has been frozen in time. Lunch will be on your own. Celebrate Holy Mass at the Shrine of the Virgin of the Rosary of Pompeii. Continue with your drive to Rome – the Eternal City. Upon arrival, check-in to your 4* hotel and enjoy a group dinner tonight at your hotel (including ½ liter mineral water and ¼ liter red or white 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 or 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 Grand Catholic Italy tour.