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Venice ... Padua ... Siena ... Assisi ... Florence ... Rome
Day 1 - Departure: Today we begin our journey to Europe. Meals will be served aboard our transatlantic flight.
Day 2 - Venice / Mestre: After connecting in our European gateway city, we arrive in Venice to be greeted by our tour manager and coach driver. En route to our hotel on the mainland in Mestre, we will be oriented to our tour. Following check-in, there will be time to relax before dinner at our hotel.
Day 3 - Venice: This morning we will board our private motor launch to travel through the canals to the islands of Venice. Our walking tour will include a visit to one of the glass factories for which the city is so famous, St. Mark’s Basilica and Square and views of the Doge’s Palace, the Bridge of Sighs and Rialto Bridge. Following time for lunch, the afternoon is free to enjoy people-watching from a cafe in St. Mark’s Square or to shop along the narrow streets and canals filled with bustling activity. In the late afternoon, you can enjoy an optional gondola ride arranged by our tour manager, before we enjoy dinner in a local restaurant. In the evening we return by private boat to the mainland for overnight in Mestre.
Day 4 - Mestre / Padua / Florence: This morning we journey first to Padua to visit a city which considers itself to be one of the oldest in Italy – according to local tradition, it was founded by the Trojans. We will see the beautiful Prato della Valle as we walk to the Basilica of St. Anthony, which houses the Saint’s tomb and relics. We will celebrate Mass and enjoy a guided visit of the Basilica complex, before free time for lunch. Later, we will continue our journey south to Florence, the cradle of the Renaissance, for dinner and overnight.
Day 5 - Florence: Today we will discover Florence and experience its heritage as we begin our morning walking tour. We will visit the Accademia, where we will see Michelangelo’s famous statue of David. Our city walk continues to the Cathedral and Giotto’s Tower, the Baptistery’s Gates of Paradise and on to the open-air gallery of Signoria Square and the Palazzo Vecchio. We finish our walking tour at Santa Croce Church, where Michelangelo is buried. The remainder of the day is ours to relax, or better yet, to become more closely acquainted with this lively city, where the artistic heritage of the Renaissance is part of everyday life. Overnight in Florence.
Day 6 - Florence / Siena / Assisi: This morning we drive through the rolling hills of Tuscany to picturesque Siena, where we stroll through narrow Gothic streets lined with palaces and patrician mansions, and visit the magnificent Cathedral, as well as the birthplace of St. Catherine of Siena. In the afternoon, we continue to Assisi and its spectacular location in the heart of Umbria. Before driving up to the hillside town to our hotel, we will enjoy wine-tasting and an early supper at one of the local wineries. Overnight in Assisi.
Day 7 - Assisi / Rome: This morning we will explore this hilltop, walled town, which is a monument to the all-embracing spirituality inspired by St. Francis. We will tour the Basilica of St. Clare, the Piazza del Commune, and the Basilica of St. Francis (where Mass will be requested at the tomb of St. Francis). Following our walking tour, there will be free time for lunch and to absorb the unique atmosphere of this special place. We will depart Assisi in the afternoon to pause in the valley below the town and visit the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli with its Porziuncola - the chapel given by the Benedictines to St. Francis and his followers, which became the cradle of the Franciscan Order. We continue to Rome for dinner and overnight.
Day 8 - Rome (Papal Audience): Following early breakfast this morning, we will participate in the Papal Audience on St. Peter’s Square. Following the Audience, those who wish can return to the hotel with our motorcoach. Those who prefer to explore further on foot can join our tour manager to walk from St. Peter’s Square, across the River Tiber to Piazza Navona and on to the Pantheon. We are then free to return to the hotel on foot or by taxi. The remainder of the afternoon and evening are free to enjoy at leisure.
Day 9 - Rome (Classical and Christian Rome): Our sightseeing tour this morning will include a visit to the Basilica of St John in Lateran, the Mother Church of Rome. Later we explore the enduring legacy of the Roman Empire by coach and on foot - we will see the Baths of Caracalla, the Circus Maximus, Palatine and Capitoline Hills, the Roman Forum and the Colosseum. The afternoon and evening are free to continue exploring the Eternal City.
Day 10 - Rome (Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica): Today is dedicated to further exploration of the Vatican State – this morning we will visit its Museums, the Sistine Chapel, and St. Peter’s Basilica and Square. The afternoon and evening are free for individual pursuits, before we meet in the late afternoon to celebrate our final Mass of the tour and enjoy our farewell dinner.
Day 11 - Rome: This morning we say ‘Arrivederci’ to our tour manager, driver and to Italy as we begin our journey home.
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