Created: 27.12.2017

Day 1 ??? DEPART USA ??? Today we depart Minneapolis to connect with our overnight flight to Rome aboard a wide-bodied jet. We enjoy in-flight movies, dinner and breakfast aloft. Day 2 - VENICE - Upon arrival in VENICE OR MILAN DEPENDING UPON FLIGHTS, we board our short motor coach to Venice, the Queen of the Cities, where we are met and transferred to our hotel in the nearby Mestre area for dinner and overnight. Day 3 - VENICE - Venice, the Queen of the Cities!  The glories that are Venice have attracted Byron, Goethe, Wagner, Shakespeare and now - you!  Following Mass in one of her beautiful churches, time is spent this morning walking the sights of Venice:  the splendid Piazza San Marco and the incredibly rich Byzantine Basilica of San Marco.  We marvel at the intricate network of elegant squares lined with stately Renaissance villas and palaces.  This afternoon we are free for shopping, personal adventure or an optional romantic gondola ride through the inner canals of Venice.  Dinner and overnight at our hotel. Day 4 - VENICE/TUSCANY/MONTECATINI - This morning, we depart Venice for our journey to Florence.  On our scenic drive through this beautiful countryside, we stop at Padua, including Mass and a tour of the Basilica of St. Anthony and view the largest bronze work of Donatello.  Next we continue to Tuscany and Florence???s delightful nearby spa town of Montecatini Terme whose streets invite us to stroll after dinner at your hotel. Day 5 - FLORENCE - This morning we drive to Florence where our first stop will be a  visit to the  Academia Gallery, here we  view Michelangelo???s famous ???David???. (OR MEDICI). We continue for Mass and a visit to the Duomo, the heart of the city, here we admire the cupola by Brunelleschi, completed in 1240, its campanile by Giotto.  Once outside we view the Baptistery???s with its incomparable bronze doors by Ghiberti. Afterwards, we set out to the Piazza della Signoria, dominated by the Palazzo Vecchio and its embattlement crowned tower. Across from the Palace, we visit the Loggia dei Lanzi with the statues of the Perseus by Cellini; Giambologna's the ???Rape of the Sabines??? and ???Hercules.??? Following free time for Lunch on our own we visit the   Basilica of Santa Croce. Among the most famous interred here, lie Galileo, Rossini, Michelangelo and Macchiaveli. Following some free time for shopping or personal adventure, We conclude with a drive to  the  ??? Piazzale Michelangelo??? for a panoramic view of city spectacular city. Return to hotel for dinner and overnight. Day 6 ??? MONTECATINI/SIENA/ASSISI ??? This morning, we journey through the Italian countryside arriving in the magnificent city of Siena, which invites us to stroll through its Gothic streets. After we celebrate Mass at the Dominican Church commemorating St. Catherine, we walk down to the famous Piazza del Campo. This shell shaped square is the dramatic setting for the annual Palio bareback horserace. The piazza's focal point is the Palazzo Pubblico, the public palace, which dates back to 1250. We continue uphill to visit  the monumental Cathedral dedicated to the Virgin Mary. Free time for lunch and browsing. In the afternoon we continue south through Umbria to the hilltop village of Assisi, the home of Saint Francis. Our first stop is in the lower town for a visit to the Basilica of St. Mary of the Angels, and the Portiuncula, Francis' Church of the Little Portion. Continue to the upper village for dinner and overnight at our hotel. Day 7 - ASSISI/ORVIETO/SORRENTO - Following an early morning departure from Assisi we travel south through the Umbrian countryside. We stop at Orvieto for a visit and Mass at the breathtaking Cathedral, which is known as the jewel of Italian architecture.  Inside the Cathedral is the Chapel of the Corporal, which houses the chalice cloth, involved in the Eucharistic Miracle, which occurred in nearby Bolsena. In the 13th century a pilgrim priest named Peter of Prague was celebrating Mass at the crypt of St. Christina.  He was having a faith crisis concerning the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist and while speaking the words of the consecration, blood started to drip from the consecrated Host.  Subsequently Pope Urban instituted The Feast of Corpus Christi.  Afterwards we travel south to the wonderful town of Sorrento along the Mediterranean for dinner and overnight. Day 8 ??? ISLE OF CAPRI/SORRENTO - This morning, we leave Sorrento by steamer across the Bay of Naples to the Island of Dreams - Capri.  We tour the island including Anacapri and weather permitting, the beautiful Blue Grotto. Following Mass at one of the churches here we return to Sorrento for dinner overnight. Day 9 ??? SORRENTO/AMALFI DRIVE/POMPEII/ROME - Today, we drive along the famous Amalfi Coast with stops along the way.  Our first stop will be at the Positano???s  overlook, where we can take wonderful pictures. We continue along Amalfi coast and will stroll in the village of Amalfi and visit and celebrate Mass at the stunning Cathedral,  home to the relics of St Andrew, the patron and protector of Amalfi. Afterwards, we continue to Pompeii, the Roman City destroyed but yet preserved by the volcanic ash of Vesuvios in 79 AD. We visit the church of the Holy Rosary visited by Blessed John Paul II shortly before his death.  We continue to Rome for dinner and overnight. Weds Day 10 ??? ROME ??? This morning, we make our way to St. Peter's for an audience with Pope Francis if he is in residence. This afternoon, we visit the Holy Stairs and Basilica of St. John Lateran. We continue to St. Paul Outside the Walls. This huge, imposing Basilica, second only to St. Peter???s and one of the largest churches in the Christian world, contains an unusual gallery of papal portraits: 265 tablets portraying the popes of the past. We conclude our day at one of the Catacombs, burial place of early Christians.  We celebrate Mass here and view the 2nd and 3rd century fresco paintings.  Dinner and overnight at our hotel. Day 11 - ROME - This morning, we go to the Vatican where we celebrate Mass below St. Peters. Afterwards we see the treasures of the Vatican Museum.  We marvel at Michelangelo???s restored frescoes in the Sistine Chapel and the wonders of St. Peter???s.  This afternoon, we start with a visit to the Basilica of St. Mary Major, then passing by the Roman Forum, the Arch of Constantine, the Coliseum and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.  We then visit the Church of St. Peter in Chains to view Michelangelo's possibly most celebrated sculpture, the "Moses."  Farewell dinner in Trastevere tonight- with a stop at the Trevi Fountain on our way back to the hotel- to bid farewell to Roma! Overnight Rome.  Day 12 ??? ROME/USA - Today we make our way home with memories of a lifetime.

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