From the hallowed Basilica of St. Francis to the glorious Sistine Chapel, discover why Italy is a bastion of Catholicism. Spend time at the Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi, the beloved saint’s hometown. Stay two nights in San Giovanni Rotondo. Reflect at the Grotto of Michael the Archangel. Discover the abbeys of Santissima Trinita and Montecassino. In the town of Pompeii, spend time at the Madonna del Rosario Sanctuary. Attend the weekly Papal audience and receive the blessing given by the Pope. Discover the splendor of the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica. See the world’s most inspirational sites and relics on a journey through the rolling hills and lively cities of Italy.
- Itinerary Type : Standard
- Activity Level : 3
- Number of Days:11
- Number of Meals:15
- Hotels:Hotel Parco delle Rose (San Giovanni Rotondo), Hotel Scapolatiello (Cava de Tirreni), Cardinal Hotel St. Peter (Rome), Cardinal Hotel St. Peter (Rome), Hotel Cenacolo (Assisi)
- Experiences:Spend time at the renowned Abbey of Montecassino, founded by St. Benedict.
Join a local expert for a fascinating tour of Assisi.
In Pompeii, visit the Madonna del Rosario Sanctuary.
- Must Sees:Attend the weekly Papal audience at Vatican City.
Stroll through the catacombs of Rome where early Christians hid and buried their dead.
Discover the Holy House of Nazareth and the beautiful Madonna of Loreto.
- Culinaries:Enjoy regional wines with every included dinner.
Itinerary (10 days)
Rome, Italy - Tour Begins
Your tour opens in Rome. This evening, join your fellow travelers for a special welcome dinner at a popular local restaurant featuring regional delicacies and fine Italian wines.
Rome - Assisi
Travel north to Assisi and begin your tour at St. Mary of the Angels Basilica, where St. Francis spent most of his life. Pause to reflect at the Chapel of the Porziuncola, the rose bush, and the cave where the saint prayed. Later, have time at the Church of St. Clare, who founded the Order of Poor Clares and followed the teachings of St. Francis by living a life of poverty and humility. Kneel before the crucifix from which Jesus spoke to St. Francis, asking him to rebuild his church. Join a local expert for a fascinating tour of Assisi highlighting the huge 13th-century basilica where you can see many of St. Francis’ possessions and a series of frescoes depicting his life. Celebrate Mass in the Basilica of St. Francis this afternoon.
Assisi - Optional Florence Excursion
Enjoy a full day at leisure to independently explore historic Assisi. Or, join a full day optional excursion to Florence, the “Renaissance City,” where a local expert provides a leisurely paced walking tour featuring the Piazza del Duomo, the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore – one of the largest in the Christian world, and the Baptistery doors. You also view the Palazzo Vecchio and the Ponte Vecchio. Enjoy several hours at leisure in Florence before returning to Assisi.
Assisi - Loreto - San Giovanni Rotondo
Travel across the Apennine Mountains toward the Adriatic Coast to the Marian shrine of Loreto. Discover the Holy House of Nazareth and the beautiful Madonna of Loreto where more than 50 popes have made a pilgrimage. You will celebrate Mass before continuing your journey to San Giovanni Rotondo, home of Padre Pio.
San Giovanni Rotondo - Monte Sant’ Angelo - San Giovanni Rotondo
Begin your day with a special visit to Monte Sant’ Angelo. Take in the stunning views of the Gargano Peninsula and explore one of the most celebrated shrines of early Christianity – the Grotto of St. Michael the Archangel. Many popes and saints have knelt and prayed at this grotto, seeking the protection of Saint Michael. Later, return to San Giovanni Rotondo and celebrate Mass in the sanctuary of Padre Pio. This is followed by a tour of the sanctuary, including the old church and the crucifix from which he received the stigmata in 1918, as well as Padre Pio’s tomb. Then, visit the new church dedicated in 2004 to Saint Pio of Pietrelcina. You will also see the confessional where Padre Pio spent many hours directing pilgrims on their journey toward God.
San Giovanni Rotondo - Abbey of Santissima Trinita - Campania
Journey through the picturesque landscape of the regions of Apulia and Campania to Cava de Tirreni. Be introduced to the Benedictine Abbey of Santissima Trinita, founded in the 11th century by a local saint. After a guided visit to the abbey you will have the option of celebrating Mass.
Campania-Madonna del Rosario Sanctuary-Abbey of Montecassino-Rome
Continue your travels to the town of Pompeii where you will visit the Madonna del Rosario Sanctuary, one of the most famous shrines of Christianity. Later, travel to Montecassino to discover the renowned abbey founded by St. Benedict in the 6th century A.D. This sacred place houses the relics of St. Benedict and his sister, Saint Scholastica. Montecassino also became famous during the battles that took place here during World War II, when the abbey was bombed and destroyed. End your day in Rome.
Rome - Papal Audience
This morning, attend the weekly Papal audience* at Vatican City to receive the blessing given by His Holiness Pope Francis. Enjoy an afternoon and evening at leisure. Perhaps you will go on an optional tour of Rome’s iconic sites, getting a glimpse into the “Eternal City” with visits to the Colosseum and St. Peter in Chains.
Rome - Christian Rome City Tour - Vatican Museum
Celebrate Mass in the morning before making your way to the catacombs, where early Christians hid and buried their dead. Visit St. Mary Major and St. John in Lateran – the former residence of the popes. Explore the Vatican Museum** and view historical treasures, including the Sistine Chapel and Michelangelo’s restored mural of the Last Judgment. End your visit to the Vatican in the breathtaking St. Peter’s Basilica, the largest church in the world. Feel the grace around you as you meander along the towering marble columns and stand in awe before Pietà, Michelangelo’s renowned sculpture. This evening, join your fellow travelers for a farewell dinner celebrating the end of a memorable pilgrimage to Italy.
Rome - Tour Ends
Your tour comes to a close in Rome.
Rome is the capital of modern Italy and the historical home of one of the great civilizations in history, the Roman Empire. The historical city was founded in 753 BC and has grown to a size of over 3 million inhabitants today. The city is home to major monuments like the Colosseum, Trevi Fountain and many more. The city was built on the seven ancient hills along the Tiber River. Today it is a collection of neighborhoods with vibrant shops, restaurants and museums just waiting to be explored.
Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi
St. Francis of Assisi is the patron saint of Italy. The unique church dedicated to this beloved saint is located in the small town of Assisi. The Basilica of St. Francis houses the relics of the saint and a world renowned fresco cycle by Giotto. Giotto's frescos depict the life story of St Francis, including several of his miracles.
San Giovanni Rotondo
San Giovanni Rotondo is a community on the east coast of Italy that is famous as a Catholic pilgrimage site because it is the home of Saint Padre Pio of Pietrelcina. A church dedicated to the saint was completed in 2004, and his remains are on display. The area is also near the important Sanctuary of Saint Michael the Archangel at Monte Gargano. Together the two sites draw in millions of pilgrims each year.
Tomb of Padre Pio
Padre Pio was a Capuchin friar who lived in San Giovanni Rotondo. During his life he became popular with parishioners and pilgrims for his devout piety and willingness to hear confessions and offer counsel. He also received the stigmata or wounds of Christ which he bore for fifty years. After his death he was canonized by John Paul II in 2002. His remains were put on display for the 40th anniversary of his death, but his popularity proved to be great, and his remains are now permanently displayed in the church bearing his name in San Giovanni Rotondo.
Abbey of Santissima Trinita
The Abbey, or Badia as it is known in Italian, is located in the hills above Cava de Tirreni, in southern Italy. It was founded in the 10th century by a nobleman from nearby Salerno. The Abbey was given many privileges by Popes Urban II and Boniface IX. Today the Abbey provides priests to the local parishes and contains a vast collection of historic documents that are used as part of an educational program overseen by the Benedictines.
Madonna del Rosario Sanctuary
The Madonna del Rosario is part of an ancient devotion to the rosary and its connection to prayer. Many paintings depict Our Lady of the Rosary on a throne with the Child giving the rosary to St Catherin of Siena and St Domini de Guzman. The most famous of these paintings has come to represent the devotion to the rosary and is on display in Pompeii, Italy. Dominican sisters maintain the shrine and numerous outreach activities from the the site while pilgrims visit to show devotion.
The Vatican City is the smallest independent state with an area of 110 acres (44 hectares). Inside the Vatican walls are the Papal Palace, St. Peter's Basilica, the curia of the Vatican state, extensive gardens and the Vatican Museums. More than half of that territory is dedicated to the Vatican Gardens. The Vatican City and Pope are guarded by the Swiss Guard, who wear uniforms that can be traced back to Michelangelo.
The Papal Audience is a weekly gathering of pilgrims held in St. Peter's Square every Wednesday when the Pope is present. Each audience consists of teachings or readings in multiple languages and greetings from the Pope and finishes with the Apostolic Blessing from the Pope. The Pope arrives in the square by Popemobile and passes around the square before taking his seat on stage. Pilgrims can bring items like rosaries to be blessed at the end.
Christian Rome City Tour
Rome has been the home to the Catholic church since the beginning and been intertwined with the story of Christianity. Numerous Saints have walked the cobblestone streets and left their mark on the city. Early Christians like Emperor Constantine built the early churches that later grew into the monuments of the major Basilicas of St. Paul’s Outside the Walls, St. John in Lateran and St Peter's. Other early Christian monuments like the catacombs have become important to understanding the history of the early followers. Touring these sites today should be part of any pilgrimage to the city.
St. Mary Major
The major Basilica dedicated to the Virgin Mary is said to have been inspired by a dream in which the virgin spoke to Pope Liberius. The Virgin indicated Esquiline Hill as the site upon which the church should be built by covering the hill with a blanket of snow on August the 5th. The church contains beautiful artistic works such as 5th-century mosaics and a gilded wooden ceiling covered with gold from the New World.
St. John in Lateran
St John in Lateran Basilica is the cathedral of Rome. The church is attached to the Lateran Palace which was the home of the Pope until it was moved from Rome to Avignon, France. The church was first constructed by Emperor Constantine in the 4th century AD.
St. Peter’s Basilica
St. Peter's Basilica is an example of late Renaissance architecture and was designed by great architects like Raphael, Michelangelo and Gian Lorenzo Bernini. Completed over the course of 120 years, St. Peter's is one of the largest churches in the world, and an important holy site for Catholics. The church is built over the burial site of Saint Peter and contains the tombs of numerous popes. The church is known for its mosaic decorations and grand dome.