DAY 1 – LISBON
We arrive in Europe. Welcome to Lisbon, called Alis Ubbo (“pleasant bay”) by its early settlers, the Phoenicians. Upon arrival in Lisbon we will be met by your tour escort. Jump onto the coach and widen your eyes. Get settled in your hotel. Dinner and overnight in Lisbon.
DAY 2 – LISBON/SANTAREM/FATIMA
Breakfast at the hotel. From Lisbon we make our way to Santarem to view the venerated relic of the Bleeding Host. Continue our journey to Fatima which is one of the major Christian pilgrimage centers in all Europe. Dinner and overnight in Fatima.
DAY 3 – FATIMA
Breakfast at the hotel. This morning you may want to attend Holy Mass in the Little Chapel of Apparitions. Continue with a tour of the neoclassical Basilica to visit the tombs of two of the shepherd children, Francisco and Jacinta, who both died of influenza in 1919 and 1920. The third one, Lucia, still lives as a Carmelite nun in the town of Coimbra.An afternoon excursion takes you to Aljustrel, the children’s hamlet still preserved in its original state, and Valinhos where Our Lady appeared after the children’s return from prison. Dinner and overnight in Fatima.
DAY 4 – FATIMA/SALAMANCA
Breakfast at the hotel. After breakfast bourd our coach and motor across the Portuguese- Spanish border to the city of Salamanca, where we visit the Basilica de Nuestra Senora de Penafrancia and the great University of Salamanca. Dinner and overnight.
DAY 5 – SALAMANCA /LOURDES
Breakfast at the hotel. Journey through the Basque country and across the Pyrenees Mountains into France. More than four million pilgrims, many of whom are sick or disabled, come to Lourdes each year to bath in the waters of the miraculous spring. This evening you may want to participate at the candlelight procession. Dinner and overnight in Lourdes.
DAY 6 – LOURDES
Breakfast at the hotel. Our tour of Lourdes begins with a visit of the Basilica of St. Pius X, the world’s largest underground sanctuary, which was built to accommodate more than 30.000 people. You’ll also see the Church of the Rosary, above which is the Gothic-style Basilica whose walls are covered with tablets of gratitude, followed by a walking tour including the sites associated with Bernadette’s life in Lourdes. Rest of day at leisure. Dinner and overnight in Lourdes.
DAY 7 – LOURDES/NICE
Breakfast at the hotel. We depart Lourdes by motorcoach to Nice. A whiff of fresh sea breeze signals our arrival at the elegant city of Nice, nestled between the Mediterranean and the foothills of the Alps. After dinner enjoy an evening stroll along the ‘Promenade des Anglais’. Dinner and overnight.
DAY 8 – NICE/MONACO/PISA/MONTECATINI TERME
Breakfast at the hotel. Journey on by coach to the Principality of Monaco, a fabulous display of white buildings and winding roads set into steep hillsides. See the harbor, the Casino favored by the world’s well-to do, the Neo – Romanesque cathedral and, on the Rocher, the Prince’s Palace where the Changing of the Guards takes place every midday. Reboard the coach for a quick hop to the Italian border, and we end our way along the Italian Riviera, bypassing the hideaway playground of Rapallo. Our next stop is Pisa with its Leaning Tower, said to be the most instantly identifiable landmark in the Western World. It is also on the list of endangered monuments and you will hear about the various solutions proposed to counteract the sinking of its foundation. See Pisa’s sumptuous Duomo, known for its horizontal marble stripes, and the ornate Baptistery. Our last stop is the spa town of Montecatini Terme, where we enjoy dinner and the overnight.
DAY 9 – MONTECATINI TERME/FLORENCE/ASSISI
Breakfast at the hotel. A local guide introduces you to the marvels of Renaissance art this morning, including the Cathedral of St. Mary of the Flowers, Ghiberti’s Doors of Paradise, Giotto’s Bell tower, the Piazza della Signoria. There will be some time to shop along Ponte Vecchio. This afternoon continue to the Assisi of St. Francis and St. Clare, where flowers overflow the window boxes which adorn the pink stone buildings typical of the town. Dinner and overnight in Assisi.
DAY 10 – ASSISI/SPOLETO/ROME
Breakfast at the hotel. We celebrate Mass before our guided tour including the Basilica of St. Francis, the 13th century Church of Santa Chiara and the church of St. Mary of the Angels, built on the outskirts of the old town over the Porziuncola where, in a humble cell, St. Francis died. Proceed to the ‘ Eternal City’ via Spoleto, a picturesque town once described as ‘ a little bit of Heaven fallen to Earth’. Spoleto was the headquarters of the Lombard dukes who ruled most of Umbria in the early Middle Ages. On to Rome for dinner and the overnight.
DAY 11 – ROME / PAPAL AUDIENCE & THE VATICAN MUSEUMS
Breakfast at the hotel. This morning we transfer to the Audience Hall for the general Audience with His Holiness Pope Francis (subject to final schedule). This afternoon we visit the Vatican Museums, whose treasures include the ancient Rome exhibits with the famous Laocoon statue, and the High Renaissance murals of Raphael, which he was painting at the same time Michelangelo completed the Sistine, another marvel. Remainder of the day is free for independent activities in the vicinity of St. Peter’s Basilica. Dinner and overnight.
DAY 12 – ROME / MAJOR BASILICAS, PLUS CATACOMBS
Breakfast at the hotel. Today we enjoy a tour which includes three more of the city’s major basilicas. Start with the Basilica of St. John Lateran, the Pope’s Cathedral in his role as Bishop of the City of Rome. Then, visit the Basilica of St. Mary Major. This afternoon we visit the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls, housing the tomb of the Apostle to the Gentiles. Our final stop of the day is the Catacombs, underground cemeteries which tunnel for miles through the soft tufa rock and where early Christians buried their brethren, and where Masses are still celebrated. Dinner and overnight.
DAY 13 – ROME / ANCIENT ROME
Breakfast at the hotel. Our visit of Rome continued this morning with a look at Roma Antica. You’ll see the Colosseum, completed in AD 80, the Circus Maximus, where more than 300.000 spectators could watch chariot races, the Arch of Costantine and the Roman Forum. You’ll also go to the church of San Pietro in Vincoli, to view St. Peter’s chains (under the altar), and admire Michelangelo’s powerfully disturbing Moses. Balance of the day free to spend as you wish. In the evening we enjoy a farewell dinner at a local restaurant. Overnight.
DAY 14 – ROME
Breakfast at the hotel. The time has come to bid farewell to Europe . Departure transfer from the hotel to the airport.