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Day 1 USA to Italy
This evening we board our international, trans-Atlantic flight from the USA to Italy. Meals and entertainment aloft.
Day 2 - Padua / Basilicas of St. Anthony & Sta. Giustina
This morning upon our arrival we will go directly to the ancient city of Padua, here we will visit the Shrine of St. Anthony. This miracle worker is adored and revered by Christians world-wide. The Basilica of Saint Anthony was built in 1231 immediately after the death of the Franciscan monk. It was built over the ancient little Church of Santa Maria Mater Domini where he wanted to be buried. We will also visit the Basilica Santa Giustina, martyred in the 4th century , the spiritual daughter of St. Cyprian. This ancient basilica also contains the tomb of St. Luke; The remains of St. Luke were brought to Padua, Italy, sometime before 1177. The abbey and the basilica of Santa Giustina houses art dedicated to the saint. The complex was founded in the 5th century on Giustina's tomb, in the 15th century became one of the most important monasteries in the area, until it was suppressed by Napoleon in 1810. In 1919 it was reopened. The tombs of several saints are housed in the interior, including those of Justina, St. Prosdocimus, St. Maximus, St. Urius, St. Felicitas, St. Julian, as well as relics of the Apostle St. Matthias and the Evangelist St. Luke. Overnight will be in “La Serenissima Republica di San Marino”. (Official title/The Most Serene Republic of San Marino) According to tradition, Saint Marinus left the island of Rab in present-day Croatia with his lifelong friend Leo, and went to the city of Rimini as a mason. After the Diocletianic Persecution following his Christian sermons, he escaped to the nearby Monte Titano, where he built a small church and thus founded what is now the city and state of San Marino. San Marino claims to be the oldest surviving sovereign state and constitutional republic in the world, as the continuation of the monastic community founded on 3 September 301, by Marinus of Rab. Dinner (included) and overnight in San Marino.
Day 3 - San Marino to Loreto
After breakfast we will have brief walking tour of San Marino including a visit to the Basilica of San Marino. We will then begin our journey from San Marino to Loreto. The little town of Loreto lies on a hill near the Adriatic Sea, some 13 miles south of Ancona. Since the 14th century it has been Italy's second most important place of pilgrimage after Rome. After a short orientation tour with our guide, explanation of Loreto, the Basilica and the story of the Little House, there will be free time in Loreto to shop and enjoy this peaceful city of Our Lady. Dinner in San Marino (or vicinity). Overnight San Marino. Mass in Loreto.
Day 4 - San Marino to Pesaro
Pesaro, on Italy's Adriatic coast, is not well-known to foreign travelers, but it is a popular traditional seaside resort, Italian visitors have been coming here to enjoy the sandy beaches for a hundred years. Pesaro's cathedral on Via Rossini has an attractive Romanesque facade, and a history that goes back further than the present building. The composer Gioachino Rossini was born in Pesaro, and his home is one of the town's proudest tourist sights. In the composer's honor, each summer Pesaro hosts the Rossini Opera Festival. A stroll along the seafront, a coffee in Piazza del Popolo, and some free time for exploring in Pesaro will round off this day. Dinner and overnight in San Marino.
Day 5 – San Marino to The Puglia Region of the Adriatic
Today, after breakfast, we depart the region of Le Marche and head in a southerly direction along the Adriatic Coastal road so named “L”Adriatica”. Today will be a long journey with several stops en-route; a good day to catch up on some rest and relaxation, reading or bringing up to date your travel journal. Along the way there will be some scenic views of the beautiful Adriatic Sea and the Apennine mountain ranges. Check in to our hotel, dinner and overnight in the Puglia Region outside of Bari in Bisceglie. Day 6 – San Giovanni Rotondo and Monte Sant’Angelo. After breakfast we will begin with a guided visit of the Shrine of Saint Pio, the Gallery of St Pio including the room in which this great modern day saint lived and eventually passed into eternity. We will also visit the tomb where his remains are visited by millions of pilgrims. Then onto Monte Sant'Angelo; the quaint village made holy and famous to Christians by Saint Michael the Archangel who appeared here in the 5th Century for the conversion of pagans. It was also the site where the Crusaders came to pay homage before their departures to the east. We will visit the Grotto of Saint Michael the Archangel, a pilgrim site since the 5th Century. Time for mass/ at the Shrine of St. Pio. Dinner and overnight in Bisceglie.
Day 7 – Bari City Tour & Basilica of San Nicola (Santa Claus / St. Nick)
Today we begin with a city tour of Bari including the Basilica of San Nicola di Bari. There will
be ample time in the Basilica for devotions. Founded in 1089 to shelter the stolen relics of St.
Nicolas of Myra, the Basilica di San Nicola (St. Nicholas Basilica) in Bari is a majestic edifice
that became the model for later Puglian Romanesque churches. Its crypt still contains the
relics of St. Nicholas, a.k.a. Santa Claus. Bari is the largest and most important city of Apulia
and stands on the Adriatic coast. It's mainly famous for being one of the exit doors of Italy,
where travelers leave on ferries for neighboring countries. Bari's old town has retained its
ancient medieval plan and contains many historic buildings and sites. The old town was the
heart of pre-Roman and Roman Bari. It is now possible to find several hip bars and
restaurants open "from dusk ‘til dawn". Dinner local restaurant with local wines and
overnight in Bisceglie.
Day 8 – Molfetta
Molfetta is one of the most important fishing, fruit and vegetable centers in Puglia. The first community of fishermen already existed in the area in the IV century B.C. The village experienced major development under the rule of Byzantium. The Madonna dei Martiri Sanctuary in the past, was the destination of pilgrims returning from the Holy Land or in search of their own spirituality. Today, the sanctuary is also the destination of art lovers, attracted by the many works inside the Basilica and the convent, including the icon of Madonna della Tenerezza dating back to the XIII century and probably donated by one of the pilgrims in thanks for the hospitality received. Today, in the USA, Hoboken, New Jersey has the largest community of Molfettani (people with origins from Molfetta) outside of Italy. In the USA the tradition has found its way from the Adriatic coast to the shores of New York harbor, with celebrations, masses and devotions. A procession begun in the 14th century by Crusaders returning to Italy from Jerusalem now winds its way through the streets of Hoboken onto vessels into the Hudson River for the blessing of the Fleets. The Baroque church of Saint Dominic was built between 1636 and 1699 when it was consecrated. The façade is decorated with the statues of Catherine of Alexandria and Mary Magdalene, patroness of the Dominican order. In the church one can admire the painting of the Madonna del Rosario (il Santissimo Rosario) with Saint Dominic by Corrado Giaquinto. Dinner and overnight in Bisceglie.
Day 9 – Alberobello
A day out of the city to visit the Trulli of Alberobello. This small and quaint village has been made a UNESCO World Heritage site for its unusual districts of trulli, the characteristic white-washed conical-roofed houses of the area. We will also visit to the Basilica of Sts. Cosma & Damiano. Today, lunch (included) will be at a local ostaria or trattoria in Alberobello. Later, there will be free-time in this great village to shop and enjoy the local flavor. There are many little cafés snack-shops, restaurants and trattorias in the main square. Overnight in Lecce.
Day 10 – Lecce
Lecce is a riot of cherubs; the Baroque masterpiece of southern Italy. This magnificent city is described as the 'Florence of the Baroque'. Lecce has a lovely historic center, and travelers can easily spend a day or two exploring picturesque little lanes and finding the more far-flung Baroque churches. The most important is the Church of the Holy Cross (Chiesa di Santa Croce). It was begun in 1353, but work was halted until 1549, to be completed only in 1695. The church has a richly decorated façade with animals, grotesque figures and vegetables, and a large rose window, so typical of the Lecce Baroque style. The Duomo (cathedral) is also one of the most significant in Italy. It was originally built in 1144, and rebuilt in 1230. Dinner (included) and overnight in Lecce.
Day 11 -- Cupertino
Today we head to almost the southern most tip of the Italian peninsula to Copertino, located in the heel of the boot in the southern portion of the province of Lecce bordered by the Adriatic and the Ionian Seas. This was the native town of Giuseppe Maria Desa born on 17th June 1603, who became a saint of the Catholic Church as San Giuseppe da Copertino. Visit to the church of San Giuseppe da Copertino erected where the saint was born, in a stable where his mother, the countess Franceschina Panaca took shelter to escape from persecution. Saint Joseph of Cupertino is the patron of students and aviators. Tonight a farewell dinner (included) with wine and music will abound. Overnight in Lecce.
Day 12 – Flying – From Bari
Today, we bid not farewell, but Arrivederci (see you again) to Italy as we transfer to the airport. Upon boarding our flight homebound, not only will we be carrying many kilos of Italy in our luggage, but many memories of fun days, wonderfully interesting meals shared with friends, a bit more culture to add to our already cultured consciousness, but above all the recollection of an impressive and wonderful journey on the Adriatic side of the ITALIAN PENINSULA. Dinner aloft and overnight at HOME!!!
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