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Our spiritual interlude with Italy begins in the Eternal City. On arrival, transfer to your hotel for a day of rest, or take to the streets exploring the city at leisure before meeting your Travel Director and fellow travellers for a Welcome Reception this evening.
Trace the history of Rome through the ages, beginning in Ancient Rome where you'll join a 'Local Specialist' for a sightseeing tour of the Colosseum. View the Circus Maximus, then travel to St. Peter's Square where you'll have some free time to explore, shop for mementos and even join a Mass in the Basilica if you wish. Gather in St. Peter's Square at noon to hear the Angelus prayer and receive the Papal blessing (subject to his availability). Later, we'll visit St. Mary Major Basilica and St. Paul Outside the Walls, the burial site of St. Paul the Apostle.
'Dive Into Culture' and gain priority access to the Vatican Museums this morning. Admire Michelangelo's magnificent frescoed ceiling in the Sistine Chapel when it is less crowded and visit St. Peter's Basilica to see Michelangelo's much-admired Pietà. Then join a 'Local Specialist' for a visit to the Archbasilica of St. John Lateran and see the Scala Sancta which have been declared Roman Catholic relics. These Holy Stairs are said to have been on the path that Jesus Christ walked on his way to trial during his Passion in Jerusalem, and were relocated by St. Helena to Rome in the 4th century. Today, the steps lead to the Sancta Sanctorum, the personal chapel of the early Popes. This evening you'll enjoy dinner at a local restaurant.
This morning we travel to Castel Gandolfo, the summer residence of His Holiness. Visit the 17th-century Apostolic Palace, which has been opened as a museum by Pope Francis and walk in the footsteps of Popes throughout the centuries. Return to Rome where you will have the rest of the day to enjoy at your leisure.
Embrace the impossible when you visit the shrine of St. Rita in Cascia and learn how she came to be known as the 'Saint of Impossible Causes'. Her body lies interred in a chapel inside the Basilica of St. Rita, which also preserves a 14th-century Eucharistic Miracle. We journey to Assisi next, where we'll visit the Basilica of Saint Mary of Angels. It was here that a young Francis of Assisi renounced the world to live in poverty among the poor and started the Franciscan movement. Enjoy two nights at one of Trafalgar's 'Stays With Stories' - a fully renovated Franciscan convent. After a day of devotion, spend the evening with your new friends enjoying dinner at your hotel. After a day of devotion, spend the evening with your new friends enjoying dinner at your hotel.
This morning join a Franciscan friar for a guided sightseeing tour of the Basilica of St. Francis. After attending mass you'll have time for lunch on your own before meeting your 'Local Specialist' for the afternoon. Visit the Basilica of St. Claire and St. Damian Monastery where St. Francis began his religious journey, shedding his wealth and embracing the spirit of poverty. You'll also visit the Carceri Hermitage - a steep wooded sanctuary where the Saint once came to pray and contemplate.
Continue to Siena where you'll meet a 'Local Specialist' for a walking tour of the city. Stroll through the ancient streets to Piazza del Campo where the colourful Palio horse race takes place every year. Then visit the Basilica of San Domenico and learn about the life of St. Catherine of Siena, one of the outstanding figures of medieval Catholicism who had a strong influence on the history of the papacy. Continuing our journey to Florence, we stop in Pisa to see its Square of Miracles and the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
There are few cities in the world with the artistic legacy that Florence enjoys and you'll have an opportunity to witness it first-hand when you join your 'Local Specialist' for a walking tour which includes views of the Duomo, Piazza della Signoria and Ponte Vecchio. Visit Santa Croce, the main Franciscan church in Italy, then take some time to shop for high-quality leather goods and 18-carat gold jewellery for which the city is famous. This evening you'll 'Connect with Locals' over a 'Be My Guest' dinner in the Chianti countryside.
Our pilgrimage continues to Italy's Veneto region, where the medieval city of Padua is our next stop. Our visit will include a guided tour of "il Santo", the Basilica of Saint Anthony of Padua, the patron saint of Lost and Found. We'll enjoy a moving Mass in the basilica before continuing to Venice.
This morning, we 'Dive Into Culture', admiring the extraordinary works of the master craftsmen on Giudecca Island as they reveal centuries of glassblowing tradition. Then cruise by private launch to St. Mark's Square where you'll join your 'Local Specialist' for a guided sightseeing tour including a visit to the Byzantine St. Mark's Basilica. You'll have a full afternoon to explore the labyrinthine calli of Venice on your terms before joining your travel companions for a memorable Farewell Dinner.
Your journey through Italy's most sacred and spiritual sites comes to an end. Airport transfers are available. Conditions apply.
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