Follow in the footsteps of St. Benedict and St. Francis with Christopher McCauley and Frank Ramirez: fifteen (15) days of travel to one of the most beautiful countries in the world.
Day 1: Sunday, September 22
Depart USA for Rome, Italy.
Day 2: Monday, September 23
Arrival at Rome Fiumicino Airport and transfer to the Villa Palazzola, where your room will be available upon arrival. Lunch, followed by time to settle in. Welcome and introductions followed by dinner. Free evening to relax.
Day 3: Tuesday, September 24
Morning Eucharist and First Session (which may include silence, contemplation, prayer, short talks, group practice or discussion). Lunch. Afternoon excursion to visit the Benedictine Monastery of Sacro Speco at Subiaco, built around the cave where St. Benedict lived (for a guided tour by one of the monks). Dinner and Evening Session.
Day 4: Wednesday, September 25
Morning excursion around the lake to visit the nearby village of Castel Gandolfo (site of the Papal summer palace) located across the lake from Villa Palazzola, for a private tour of the formal gardens and Papal Apartments. Lunch. Time for sightseeing, shopping and coffee/gelato. Afternoon Session. Evening prayer. Dinner. Free evening.
Day 5: Thursday, September 26
Full day excursion to visit the Benedictine Monastery of Monte Cassino (where both Benedict and Sr. Scholastica are buried) for a guided tour. Lunch at a local restaurant. Afternoon return to Palazzola via the Cistercian Abbey of Casamari for vespers. Dinner. Free evening.
Day 6: Friday, September 27
Morning Eucharist and Session. Lunch. Afternoon visit to the private Ninfa Gardens (a superb early 20th Century garden set amongst medieval ruins, and considered one of the most romantic gardens in the world), and the Cistercian Abbey at Valvisciolo. Dinner and Community Sharing Night.
Day 7: Saturday, September 28
Morning transfer, via coach, to the Hotel La Rocca in Assisi (the home of St. Francis and St. Clare). Lunch. Session on Franciscan Spirituality. Afternoon walk through the town to the Basilica of St. Francis for a guided tour of the crypt (tomb of St. Francis) lower Basilica (13th Century frescos by Cimabue, Giotto. and Lorenzetti) and upper Basilica (frescoes by Giotto). A free stroll through the town, arriving in time for dinner. Evening session and optional walk around Upper Assisi.
Day 8: Sunday, September 29
Morning Session followed by Eucharist at the Anglican Franciscan Centre in the Oratory of St. Leonard. Open time for lunch. Afternoon visit by local bus to the Basilica of St. Mary of the Angels (where Francis and his friends first lived around the Portiuncula Chapel, with the great 1393 altarpiece of Hilary of Viterbo), all located below Assisi. Dinner and optional evening stroll.
Day 9: Monday, September 30
Morning walk to Basilica of St. Clare (where Clare is buried and where Francis received his calling from God), and then outside the town to the convent of San Damiano (home of St. Clare). Continue to the Carceri Hermitage on Mount Subasio (where Francis and his companions went on retreat). Lunch. Free afternoon to enjoy Assisi. Evening Prayer. Dinner. Evening Session.
Day 10: Tuesday, October 1
Full-day transfer along the spectacular Tiber Valley route to the hilltop town of Orvieto. Funicular transfer from the coach up to the city for a tour of the Duomo (one of the artistic masterpieces of the late Italian Middle Ages and one of Italy’s greatest cathedrals). Its breathtaking facade inspired Pope John XXIII to call it the “Golden Lily of Cathedrals” and imagined that on the Day of Judgment, it would float to Heaven carried by its own beauty. Free time to explore the town, find lunch, and enjoy. Afternoon transfer to Hotel Lancelot in Rome. Dinner.
Optional evening stroll to the Coliseum, dramatically lit at night.
Day 11: Wednesday, October 2
Early morning transfer to Vatican City for the General Audience with HH Pope Francis in St. Peter’s Square. Return to the hotel area where pilgrims will find many cafes and restaurants for lunch. Afternoon visit to the local 12th century church of San Clemente, with its 4th and 5th century underground levels. Evening Prayer in the beautiful chapel of the Irish College. Dinner.
Optional evening stroll to the Basilica of St. John Lateran.
Day 12: Thursday, October 3
Morning transfer to St. Peter’s Basilica for a private guided tour. Free afternoon. Evening Vespers with the Augustinian Sisters at the Basilica of Santi Quattro Coronati. Dinner. Optional evening stroll over the Coelian Hill.
Day 13: Friday, October 4
Morning transfer to the Episcopalian Church of St. Paul’s Inside the Walls with its art deco mosaics and stained-glass windows, to join the local community for Morning Prayer followed by a visit to the Basilica of St. Mary Major. Free afternoon. Evening buffet dinner and visit the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel ‘after hours.’
Day 14: Saturday, October 5
Morning excursion outside of Rome to visit the Catacombs of San Callisto and the Basilica of St. Paul’s Outside the Walls. Afternoon visit to the Anglican Centre in Rome to celebrate the Eucharist. Farewell dinner.
Day 15: Sunday, October 6
Morning transfer to Rome Fiumicino Airport for group departure.
NOTE: This itinerary, venues and sequence of venues and events, may change to accommodate weather, traffic, or group needs, as determined by the group leaders. A final itinerary will be provided upon arrival.