Day 1 :
Departure from your airport
- Depart from US for Italy:
Relax and enjoy our scheduled flight from North America.
Our 24-hour Tour Director will meet us at the airport and remain with us until our final airport departure.
Day 2 :
Arrive in Rome - Siena area
We will have use of a private coach and driver, while touring for the next seven days.
We will continue to the Siena area, which will be our base for the next three nights. While here, we will enjoy breakfast and dinner at the hotel.
Once a capital to rival Florence, Siena is Italy’s prettiest medieval town, and still possesses the grandeur of the age when it was at its peak.
Visit the Duomo, highlighted by distinctive striped marble columns. Our visit will include the beautiful Piccolomini Library, designed to house the cathedral’s collection of illuminated manuscripts. The magnificent room features an unrivaled ceiling and large frescoes depicting important events in the life of Pope Pius II.
- Sanctuary of St. Catherine:
Visit the Sanctuary of St. Catherine, which was home to one of the greatest female mystics who ever lived. Having had her first mystical experience at the age of 6, St. Catherine was graced with many spiritual gifts, including the stigmata. She also helped convince Pope Gregory XI to return to the papacy to Rome.
Arrival day sightseeing subject to final air confirmation.
Day 3 :
Day trip to Assisi
During the course of our tour we will gain from the knowledge and insight of five half-day local guides while we are here in Italy.
The medieval town of Assisi is heir to the legacy of its most prominent citizen, St. Francis. Although the town was damaged in the earthquake of 1997, it has been restored to its former glory with geranium-hung streets, lovely views, and fountain-splashed piazzas.
- Basilica di San Francesco:
Visit the Basilica di San Francesco, an incongruous memorial to a man who preached and lived an utterly simple life of poverty, abstinence, and the enunciation of worldly goods in search of greater spirituality. We will explore the bi-level basilica, including the Lower Church, the Crypt, and the Upper Church, with Giotto’s famous frescoes of 28 scenes of the Life of St. Francis.
- Church of Santa Chiara:
Explore the Church of Santa Chiara, resting place for St. Clare’s bones, and home of St. Francis’s miraculous crucifix. Our visit will include the Neo-Gothic Crypt and the Oratorio del Crocifisso, which preserves the venerated 12th century crucifix that spoke to St. Francis at San Damiano and set him on his holy path
Day 4 :
Day trip to Florence
During the course of our tour we will gain from the knowledge and insight of one full-day local guides while we are here in Italy.
Florence is so deeply connected to the Renaissance movement in art and literature that it is often called the “Cradle of the Renaissance.” A walk through the peaceful piazzas reveals the architecture and sculpture that have made this beautiful city one of the world’s greatest artistic capitals.
- Piazza del Duomo:
Enjoy the Piazza del Duomo, where the cathedral, tower, and baptistery epitomize the traditions of Florentine art from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance. After viewing the massive facade of the Duomo, including its enormous Dome that dominates the skyline and is a symbol of Florence itself, we make a brief visit inside to view frescoes designed by Giorgio Vasari. Upon exiting the Duomo, we will view Giotto’s Bell Tower and the bronze doors of the Baptistery, designed by Ghiberti, which Michelangelo commented were worthy to be the “Gates of Paradise.”
- Piazza della Signoria:
Spend time in the Piazza della Signoria, the political stage of Renaissance Florence and an open-air museum of sculpture.
We will hold a private Mass at the Church of Santa Croce.
Day 5 :
Siena - Appian Way - Rome
- Appian Way:
Travel just outside the city for a stroll along the Via Appia Antica (Appian Way), the most famous road that led to Rome. Built in 312 BC, it eventually stretched to the seaport of Brindisi, through which trade with colonies in Greece and the East was funneled. We will explore the road’s initial stretch in Rome, lined with the great monuments and ancient tombs of patrician Roman families.
- Quo Vadis:
Visit the little church of Quo Vadis, located along the Appian Way. Tradition holds that after St. Peter fled Rome to escape persecution he had a vision here of Jesus, which convinced him to return to Rome to face martyrdom.
- Catacombs of St. Callixtus:
Visit the Catacombs of St. Callixtus, funerary tunnels which represent the first known cemetery of the Christian community of Rome. There are many sepulchral chambers and almost half a million tombs of early Christians, along with paintings, sculptures, and epigraphs that provide invaluable material for the study of their life and customs.
For the next four evenings we will enjoy the convenience of our centrally-located Rome hotel, where daily breakfast will be included.
Known to many as the "Eternal City," Rome is the capital of Italy, with an uninterrupted history spanning two and a half thousand years. As one of the founding cities of western civilization, Rome is filled with incredible historical sites. It is a city with many faces, encompassing medieval, Renaissance, Baroque and modern.
In Rome, the cost of public transport is included for all group sightseeing. Escorted by our guide, we will be able to experience the city in the same manner as the local people.
- Church of San Pietro in Vincoli:
Visit the church of San Pietro in Vincoli, which was founded in the 5th century to house the chains that bound St. Peter in Palestine, now preserved under glass. We will also view the tomb of Pope Julius II, crowned by one of Michelangelo’s most famous sculptures, Moses.
This evening, dinner will be provided in a local restaurant.
Day 6 :
- The Colosseum:
Enjoy a specialist-guided tour, through the spectacular remains of the Roman Empire. The Colosseum, considered to be the greatest symbol of Ancient Rome’s power and glory, was completed under Titus in 80 A.D. The Colosseum could hold 55,000 spectators, on a par with many of today’s modern sports stadiums. Among the sights included is the Arch of Constantine, a triumphal arch finished in 315 A.D., commemorating the victory of Constantine I over Maxentius in the year 312 A.D.
- Roman Forum:
We will also tour the ruins and excavations of the Roman Forum, which features the remains of magnificent temples, basilicas, and triumphal arches that once formed the heart of the Empire.
- Mamertine Prison:
See the Mamertine Prison, originally created as a cistern for a spring. The prison was typically reserved for higher-profile prisoners and those that posed a threat to the security of Rome; the most famous of these was St. Peter.
- Trajan's Column and Market:
Enjoy a view of Trajan’s Column and Market. Completed in 113 A.D. as a monument to the Emperor Trajan, the column is most famous for its spiral bas-relief. It stands in front of the market, the ancient equivalent of a shopping center, which housed no less than 150 shops and offices. From there, stroll past the Victor Emmanuel Monument, a giant building created to honor the first king of a unified Italy.
Visit the Pantheon, one of the grandest and best-preserved Roman monuments, and the oldest large-scale dome in Rome. The Pantheon has been in continuous use throughout its history and today houses many tombs, including those of Italian kings Victor Emmanuel II and Umberto I, and painters Caracci and Raphael.
- Piazza Navona:
This evening we will dine in the Piazza Navona area. Built on the foundations of Domitian?s Circus, this magnificent square was designed by Borromini in 17th century. It is full of life and is highlighted by one of Rome?s most spectacular fountains, the Four Rivers designed by Bernini. The square is often filled with local artists. The surrounding neighborhood is also one of the best places in Rome to get a tasty tartufo or gelato ice cream.
Day 7 :
Experience a specialist-guided tour of the Vatican Museums, home to one of the world’s most impressive collections of art. Our tour includes the map tapestry rooms, the magnificent Raphael Rooms, and the spectacular Sistine Chapel, highlighted by Michelangelo’s ceiling and his Last Judgment. We will continue into St. Peter’s Square to visit St. Peter’s Basilica, the largest church in the western world and the center of Catholicism. Highlights of our visit include Michelangelo’s Pieta and Bernini’s magnificent Baldacchino Over the High Altar.
We will celebrate a private mass service in St Peter's Basilica.
This evening, dinner will be provided in a local restaurant.
Day 8 :
- Church of San Giovanni in Laterano:
Visit the church of San Giovanni in Laterano, the cathedral church of the diocese of Rome. The interior is credited to Borromini, and remains believed to have been painted by Giotto have also been discovered.
- Victorian-Gothic Church of San Alfonso:
Visit the Victorian-Gothic Church of San Alfonso and the Shrine of Our Lady of Perpetual Help. The icon was originally venerated on the Island of Crete. A merchant allegedly took the picture to hide it from the ensuing Turkish forces and it was first venerated in Rome in 1499 AD.
- Santa Maria Maggiore:
Visit Santa Maria Maggiore. One of Rome’s four patriarchal basilicas, the church dates back to the 5th century. Along with its Baroque interior and Romanesque bell tower, the basilica is noted for a cycle of mosaics from the 5th century that decorate the arch and nave, depicting biblical scenes.
- Gardens of the Villa Borghese:
Explore the gardens of the Villa Borghese, the second largest public park in Rome. The naturalistic English gardens were originally laid out in the 17th century, and are now home to many buildings, museums, and attractions.
- Trevi Fountain:
This evening we will dine near the spectacular Trevi Fountain where it is traditional to toss a coin into the fountain to ensure a safe return to The Eternal City. Spend time at Rome’s meeting place, the Piazza di Spagna, home of the famous Spanish Steps. The piazza and steps are both named in reference to a 16th century Spanish ambassador who lived here. English poet John Keats lived and died in the house to the right of the steps, which is now a memorial
Day 9 :
Departure from Rome
- Depart Rome for home:
Our rewarding and enjoyable tour comes to an end as our Tour Director accompanies us to the airport on our final day