We depart to Milan, with complimentary meals and beverages served in flight.
We arrive in Milan (the See of Ss. Ambrose and Charles Borromeo and Paul VI). We are greeted by representative and proceed downtown to visit the Duomo, "the most magnificent Gothic building in Northern Italy". Dinner awaits us at our hotel.
We begin the day with DaVinci's Cenacolo (The Last Supper) followed by a visit to the Basilica di Sant'Ambrogio ("the most interesting church in Milan and the prototype of the Lombard basilica and the Tomb of St. Ambrose).
Leaving Milan (time permitting), our drive takes us to Verona to walk a bit around this quaint town. Among the cities of the Venetia it is second only to Venice for the interest of its monuments, and is especially notable for the quantity of its Roman remains. Family feuding produced the story of Romeo and Juliet. On to Padova for dinner and the evening. (B,D)
Venice is known as 'The Queen of the Adriatic'. "A unique position, the grace of her buildings, the changing colors, and not least the total absence of wheeled transport, make Venice the most charming and poetic city in the world." Our visit begins at the Basilica of St. Mark–golden mosaics from the Second Golden Age of Icons adorn this magnificent Byzantine basilica built to honor the body of St. Mark brought from Alexandria in Egypt. Popes John XXIII and John Paul I were Patriarchs of Venice. we visit the Piazza di San Marco and the Exterior of Palazzo Ducale (the palace of the Doge, the political leader of the Republic of Venice). The balance of our day is free to explore this exotic city. (B, D)
After breakfast, our motorcoach proceeds to the town of Padua, where we visit the Basilica of St. Anthony of Padua and celebrate Mass. From here we continue to Florence, the Jewel of the Renaissance. In Florence we check-in to our hotel for dinner and the evening. (B, D)
Florence is known as the city of the Medici Family and Machiavelli. We visit the Duomo–Santa Maria in Fiore; the Baptistery of San Giovanni (bronze doors by Ghilberti); at the Academia we marvel at Michelangelo's David; and we admire the frescoes by Giotto in the former monastery of San Marco. We celebrate Mass at a frescoed chapel in the Franciscan church of Santa Croce. Those wishing to stay in Florence to browse the markets may do so; Departing Florence we make our way to Assisi, home to St. Francis of Assisi.. (B, D)
We visit the Basilica housing the Saint's tomb, and afterwards enjoy a guided tour of the Basilica and the town. After Mass and some time on our own, we continue to Rome for dinner and the evening. (B, D)
This morning we proceed to the Vatican Museum, where our visit is highlighted by the Sistine Chapel, featuring Michelangelo's masterworks. This afternoon we enjoy a guided tour of the Basilica of St. Peter, where we view the tomb of the first Pope and also the Pieta, Michelangelo's masterful sculpture of Mary holding her crucified Son. We have some free time for visiting the local religious articles shops. Dinner is served at a local restaurant. (B, D)
This morning we transfer to Vatican City and the Pope Paul VI Audience Hall for the General Papal Audience with the Holy Father (subject to Holy Father's schedule). After the audience, we take some time for lunch on our own.
This afternoon our guide will lead us on a walking tour of the historical center of Rome. We begin at the Trevi Fountain where we toss our traditional three coins. From here we continue to the Piazza Trinita dei Monti at the top of the Spanish Steps, affording a romantic panoramic view of the city of Rome. Our tour continues across the city to the Pantheon, and we finish our day at the Piazza Navona. You may wish to visit some of the ice cream shops serving the Italian gelato! Dinner this evening is served at our hotel. (B, D)
Today we begin our visit at the Colosseum Its real name was the Flavian Amphitheater, after emperors who built it in the first century after Christ. Colosseum refers to the 'colossal' statue of Nero that at one time stood at the entrance. Just up the street we see the Mamertime Prison, then on to the Church of St. Peter in Chains.
This afternoon we visit the Catacombs of St. Calixtus, the underground burial site of the early Christians and many of the early popes. Our journey concludes at the Basilica of St. Paul the Apostle, where we celebrate the closing Mass of our pilgrimage tour. This evening, we gather at a local Roman restaurant for a festive farewell dinner with wine and music. (B, D)
After breakfast, we transfer to the airport for our return flight.