Rome, Assisi, Siena, Florence, Pisa, Padua, Venice, Toulon, Lourdes, Avignon
Arrival in Rome and transfer to the villa. Dinner and overnight stay.
Rome: This morning we depart for a sightseeing tour of a lifetime! Although our focus is on Christian Rome, we will also see so many important cultural and monumental sights around Rome. The tour includes three major Basilicas: St Mary Major, one of the oldest shrines dedicated to the Blessed Virgin, a shrine that contains a relic from the manger of the infant Jesus. The Basilica of the St John in Lateran, is the former residence of the popes prior to their return to Rome in 1377. St Paul Outside the Walls, which houses the remains of St Paul under its main altar. We will also see the ancient Baths of Caracalla, Arch of Drusus, Chapel O Domine Quo Vadis? the remains of imperial tombs, Tomb of Celilia Metella, and the catacombs of St Callixtus where the early Christians hid themselves to escape persecution. See Cathedral of Rome and the Holy Stairs, Quirinale Square, Trevi Fountain (don't forget to throw in the coin), Pantheon and Piazza Navona. Dinner and overnight stay.
Rome: This morning we go to Vatican City for a visit of the Vatican Museums, a group of most impressive edifices with hundreds of galleries filled with art treasures. See awe-inspiring relics and works of art donated throughout centuries as tributes of faith. We'll cover The Tapestry Gallery, The Raphael Rooms and the most overwhelming Sistine Chapel, Michelangelo's Masterpiece, restored mural of the Last Judgment. Later, enter the largest church in Christendom St Peter's Basilica, built on the site where St Peter was martyred. Unsurpassed in beauty, a monument to the long history of the Catholic Church, to which pilgrims come from around the world, St Peter's is the grandest of the world's churches. Marvel Pieta' and Bernini's amazing bronze canopy. Before dinner, we'll have some time at leisure, to explore your own paths, to shop, or just to sit in one of the outside cafes and watch the world go by. Dinner and overnight stay.
Rome-Assisi: After breakfast we travel to Assisi. After we check in at hotel - a free afternoon to relax, or explore the city independently. Your tour escort will give you some wonderful suggestions for shopping or cafes. Dinner and overnight stay.
Assisi: Mass at the tomb of St Francis. Explore the quaint hilltop birthplace of St Francis that still retains something of the atmosphere of the early 1200s, the period when St Francis began his ministry. Contained within the huge 13th-century Basilica are many of the saint's possessions and a series of frescoes depicting his life. You may kneel before the crucifix from which Jesus spoke to St Francis, asking him to rebuild His church. It was in St Mary of the Angels Basilica where St Francis spent most of his life. Here we visit the Chapel, Portiuncola, the rose bush, and the cave where the saint retired for prayer. Stroll the medieval streets of the compact little town. After stopping at an outdoor cafe with a view of an ancient Roman temple, we go to the Church of St Clare to see the saint's incorrupt body. The foundress of the Order of Poor Clares followed the teachings of St Francis by living a life of poverty and humility. Dinner and overnight stay.
Assisi - Siena - Florence: Depart from Assisi for Siena, birthplace of Saints Catherine and Bernardine and Italy's loveliest medieval city. Here we will stroll the Piazza del Campo, one of Italy's finest squares, celebrate Mass at the Cathedral, and visit the Basilica of St Francis, containing miraculous consecrated hosts that have remained intact since 1730. View the incorrupt head of St Catherine, the mystical bride of Christ, at St Dominic's Basilica. Later we drive through Florence, a paradise for art lovers, Florence drew to itself the greatest artists of the Renaissance: Dante, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael, Botticelli, Donatello and many others. Dinner and overnight stay.
Florence: After Mass, we will enjoy guided tour of Florence which includes magnificent Santa Maria del Fiore, Giotto's Bell Tower, The Baptistry's heavy bronze Gate of Paradise the Academy of Fine Arts containing many treasures, the Ponte Vecchio, The Duomo, whose magnificent dome was created by Brunelleschi. Afternoon at leisure. Dinner and overnight stay.
Florence - Pisa - Padua: After breakfast we travel to Padua, heading through the Apennines Mountains to Pisa. See Pisa's instantly recognizable landmark, still standing after 700 years, the Leaning Tower. Arrival in Padua, dinner and overnight stay.
Padua - full day excursion to Venice: After breakfast we embark on a day trip to magnificent Venice, only 25 miles from Padua. Enjoy this charming city built atop 118 tiny islands without streets, crisscrossed by 160 canals and linked by 400 footbridges. Your guide will show you all the sights: the Grand Canal, St Mark's Square, the Basilica built to house the saint's remains, the Palace of the Doges, the Bridge of Sighs, and the prison which held Casanova. Sip an espresso at the outdoor cafes lining Piazza San Marco or stroll through the city or take an optional gondola ride. Return to Padua in time for dinner and overnight stay.
Padua - Toulon: After breakfast, departure for Toulon. You will discover the Provence-Alpes-Cote d'Azur region, a welcoming land of sunshine and easy living has always attracted large numbers of artists, form Van Gogh to Picas via Marcel Pagnol, Auguste Renoir and F. Scott Fitzgerald. Arrival in Toulon and accommodation in a hotel. Dinner and overnight stay.
Lourdes: Leave Toulon, heading to Lourdes. Between the spectacular mountain-river, Gave de Pau, stands picturesque Lourdes, the birthplace of St Bernadette to whom Our Lady appeared in 1858 near the Grotto of Massabielle. Settle into your hotel, time at disposal to explore the city before dinner, overnight stay.
Lourdes: During your stay in Lourdes you may celebrate daily Mass at the Grotto, enjoy a video presentation telling the story of Lourdes, and walk in the footsteps of St Bernadette. See Holy Mill where St Bernadette was born and the "Cachot", an abandoned prison where Bernadette's impoverished family lived. Pray for the sick, drink water from the miraculous spring, submerge yourself in the healing baths, and experience Christ's love as you walk the life-sized Stations of the Cross overlooking the holy grotto. Kneel in the chapel built on the very rock of the grotto, attend the blessing of the sick, and participate in nightly candlelight processions requested by Our Lady. Time for private devotions before dinner and overnight stay.
Avignon: Departure for Avignon, city of Art. It was in the 14th century the Capital of Christianity and this past has left us an outstanding heritage: chapels, churches, City wall and of course the Popes Palace and the St Benezet Bridge classified today by Unesco as World Heritage for Humanity. Accommodation in hotel. Dinner and overnight stay.
Paris: Departure for Paris for your flight home. Arrivederci!
Accommodation in our wonderful Villas and Monasteries comparable to***/**** star hotels Daily breakfast and dinner Sightseeing tours and guided visits by our art historian guides as per program 24 hour ZefiroWorld telephone assistance One person free for every 25 paying people
Luxury motor coach English speaking tour escort Beverages and lunches Entrance fees Bus driving and parking permits Extras, tips and everything not mentioned in “Included in the price”
(min. 25 people)