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The Duomo—The 12th century Cathedral of Siena is simply beautiful, a true Gothic masterpiece in black and white marbles, that really offers a lot to the traveler: from the amazing panorama you enjoy from its unfinished nave to the wonderful mosaic pavement and the superb fresco cycle by Pinturicchio in the Piccolomini Library, to the masterpieces by Duccio and Donatello.   Overnight in Orvieto with supper included.

Day 1—Trans-Atlantic Flight to Rome  - Friday, March 3, 2023
All participants using the group flights will depart from Washington Dulles International Airport for your trans-Atlantic flight to Rome, Italy

Day 2—Rome Arrival—March 4
Upon arrival at Fiumecino, Leonardo daVinci Airport, we will clear customs, baggage claim, meet our drivers and immediately depart for Perugia and Assisi.  Prior to arriving at our hotel in Assisi we will make a short visit to the city of Perugia.  Here in Perugia we will have some free time for lunch and a visit to the magnificent cathedral of San Lorenzo.   The Cathedral of San Lorenzo, dedicated to Saint Lawrence, deacon in the service of Pope Sixtus II, martyred in Rome in the year 258, is part of an architectural complex that, taken as a whole, is called the island of San Lorenzo or the castle of San Lorenzo.

Fontana Maggiore is located at the centre of Piazza IV Novembre. This beautiful mediaeval fountain was erected in the second half of the 12 C at the termination of the aqueduct that carried water to the town from Monte Pacciano. The architect was Fra Bevignate da Perugia and the sculptural decorations were created by Nicola and Giovanni Pisano. The fountain is composed of two superimposed polygonal basins, faced with marble reliefs representing biblical and mythological individuals, saints, animals and personifications of the months, the sciences, the virtues and places. The fountain is one of the finest examples of Gothic art in Italy and was the symbol of the city at the peak of its power and influence.  Later this afternoon we continue a short drive to Assisi for check-in and overnight.  Supper included. 

Day 8—Ancient & Monumental Rome—March 10
Today, after breakfast, we will begin our full day tour of some of the most important and popular sites of Ancient Rome. The Eternal City was the capital of the Roman Kingdom, the Roman Republic and the Roman Empire, which was the dominant power in Western Europe and the lands bordering the Mediterranean for over seven hundred years from the 1st century BC until the 7th century AD.  The city is regarded as one of the birthplaces of western civilization. Since the 1st century AD Rome has been the seat of the Papacy and, after the end of Byzantine domination, in the 8th century it became the capital of the Papal States, which lasted until 1870. In 1871 Rome became the capital of the Kingdom of Italy, and in 1946 that of the Italian Republic.    

 

Day 3  -  Assisi—City of Sts. Francis & Clare March 5
This morning after breakfast we will begin our day with a visit of the Basilica of S. Maria delle Grazie with the Portuncula. The Portuncula is a small church located within the Basilica of Santa Maria degl’Angeli, the place from where the Franciscan movement began.

 Later we travel up the hill to the Basilica of St. Francis.  We will visit the Basilica of St Clare.  In St Clare’s basilica we will be able to see her incorrupt body and visit the Cross of San Damiano that spoke to Francis.

 Assisi is a UNESCO world heritage site known for the magnificent medieval architecture and for being the birthplace of Saint Francis, the patron saint of Italy, founder of the Franciscan order and one of the most popular Catholic saints in history.

 The Basilica of St. Francis is a massive, 2-level church, consecrated in 1253. Its 13th-century frescoes portraying the life of St. Francis have been attributed to Giotto and Cimabue, among others.  Overnight in Assisi with supper included.  Morning departure for Siena, the city of St Catherine. 

Day 4 —   Siena—City of St Catherine   March 6
Siena is small enough for you to reach every corner of it on foot, so enjoy the pleasure to wander across the incredibly charming alleys and hidden corners of this beautiful Gothic town. 

Piazza del Campo  - Il Campo is the core of Siena, an amazing and spectacular huge curving square with the strange shape of a shell. You’ll not find a similar square anywhere else, it’s unique and particular, one of the most beautiful squares in the world. I suggest you walk all across the square and stop here and there to admire it and all the beautiful historical buildings surrounding the piazza.

Right at the highest point of the piazza is the beautiful Fonte Gaia, the fountain of joy, carved by Jacopo della Quercia in the 15th century and representing the Virgin surrounded by the Virtues. It’s a place full of atmosphere, even more evocative and enchanting at night. As it was in the past, il Campo is still the focus of public and daily life, from the city’s marketplace to the Palio horse race.

Day 6 — Wednesday,  March 8 — Morning Papal Audience Afternoon Free
Vatican Square is only a short walk from the hotel where we will be staying.

We will depart on foot right after breakfast as to clear security at the Vatican early and get our seats. It is best to arrive before the tour buses and crowds if possible. After the Audience you will have the balance of the day free.


This evening you will be on your own for supper.

 

 Day 7  - St. Peter’s Basilica / Vatican Museum / Sistine Chapel—March 9
At 22,067 square meters, St. Peter’s is the world’s largest church; regarded as one of the holiest Catholic shrines, it is a popular place of pilgrimage, even though it is neither the Mother Church nor a cathedral (San Giovanni in Laterano is both, as explained above). It is hard to grasp its proportions until you have seen it. Particularly impressive is its height, 136 meters from the ground to the top of the magnificent dome, the tallest in the world. According to Catholic tradition, the Basilica is the burial site of the apostle St. Peter, the first Pope and Bishop of Rome. St. Peter's tomb is said to be below the high altar. Many popes have been buried here since the Early Christian period. A church has been on this site since Roman Emperor Constantine the the Great. Construction of the present basilica,  which replaced the basilica of the 4th century,  began on 18 April 1506 and was completed in 1626. St. Peter’s Basilica is also famous as a magnificent work of art, to which major Renaissance artists, including Michelangelo, Bramante, Raffaello, Sangallo and Giacomo della Porta contributed. Gian Lorenzo Bernini designed the ample staircase and elliptical square surrounded by columns, which “introduces” the basilica, with the façade by Carlo Maderno.

We will also visit the Vatican Museum and culminate with the Sistine Chapel. The Vatican Museums originated as a group of sculptures collected by Pope Julius II (1503-1513) and placed in what today is the Cortile Ottagono” within the museum complex. The popes were among the first sovereigns who opened the art collections of their palaces to the public thus promoting knowledge of art history and culture. As seen today, the Vatican Museums are a complex of different pontifical museums and galleries that began under the patronage of the popes

At the end of the tour there will be free time for anyone who would like to visit the Cupola: Not that many visitors know that it is possible to climb up to the top of St Peter’s dome: it is a fantastic experience, and a great opportunity to enjoy a dizzying city panorama all around Rome and to admire a top down view of St Peter’s basilica nave. At the entrance to the basilica, after the security check, there is a sign that directs you to the far right of the portico (past the Holy Door) and to the kiosk for the elevator.  You can take the elevator to the roof level (saving 320 steps), but if you want to be on the top of the cupola you must take the stairs for the last portion (551 steps in total).

The entrance cost is Cost 7 Euros for elevator, 5 Euros for stairs.

After the brief elevator ride (or the first 320 steps), before your climb to the dome, you can stop and enjoy the view from the gallery inside the dome looking down into the basilica . Take a few moments to absorb the astonishing beauty of the cupola from within, looking down onto the main altar.

Michelangelo himself designed this dome, which measures  135m (450 ft.) above the ground at its top and stretches 42m (139 ft.) in diameter. Legend has it that in deference to the Pantheon, Michelangelo made his dome 1.5m (5 ft.) shorter across, saying “I could build one bigger, but not more beautiful, than that of the Pantheon.” Carlo Maderno later added the dome-top lantern. The climb to the top of the dome proceeds through progressively narrower and sloping stairs. The narrow passageway can be uncomfortable if you are claustrophobic   

 

Day 5  - Orvieto / Rome March 7
Orvieto, Italy is one of the principal sights of the region of Umbria, Italy. Its situation is marvelous - perched high above tufa cliffs - showing traces of every phase of history for the past three thousand years, culminating in its magnificent cathedral.  

The cathedral of Orvieto is one of the most beautiful churches in Umbria, indeed in all of Italy. It was begun in 1285 and is Gothic in style, with three naves. Its tripartite façade was conceived by Lorenzo Maitani and is decorated in its lower portion with scenes from the Old and New Testaments, and with mosaics and statues of the Blessed Virgin, the Prophets and the Apostles in its upper part. The walls in the interior are constructed of layers of Travertine marble and of basalt. The choir was frescoed with illustrations of the life of the Blessed Virgin by Ugolino di Prete Ilario, Peter di Puccio and Anthony of Viterbo. The chapel on the right, called Our Lady of San Brizio, was painted by the Fra Angelico of Fiesole ("Christ Glorified", "Last Judgment", and "The Prophets", carried out in 1447) and by Luca Signorelli ("Fall of Antichrist", "Resurrection of the Dead", "Damned and Blessed", etc.). Michelangelo took inspiration from these paintings for his "Last Judgment" in the Sistine Chapel. The "Burial of Jesus" is also by Signorelli, and there are several sculptures by Scalza (1572), among them the group of the Pietà, chiseled from a single block of marble. The chapel on the opposite side, called "of the Corporal", contains the large reliquary in which is preserved the corporal of the miracle of Bolsena. This receptacle was made by order of Bishop Bertrand dei Monaldeschi, by the Siennese Ugolino di Mæstro Vieri (1337). It is made of silver, adorned with enamels that represent the Passion of Jesus and the miracle. The frescoes of the walls, by Ugolino (1357-64), also represent the miracle.  Free time for lunch and some exploring on your own in Orvieto before departing for Rome.  Overnight in Rome and supper included.

 

Mount St. Mary Pilgrimage

March 3-11, 2023 

(click for the full pdf brochure - link will open in a new window)

externally. It closely resembles a 2nd-century imperial basilica, imposing in its aspect, perhaps to signify Rome’s Christian future. Under the high altar is the Crypt of the Nativity, with a crystal reliquary said to contain wood from Jesus’ crib.

Mater et caput of all Rome’s and the world’s Catholic churches, San Giovanni in Laterano is the oldest church of the Western World, founded in the 4th century by Constantine the Great. Dedicated to John the Baptist and John the Evangelist, it stands on the piazza by the same name, within Rome’s city center. San Giovanni in Laterano is also the city’s cathedral, seat of the Bishop of Rome.  The basilica was reconstructed a few times until the 18th century, when the monumental façade, a two-storied portico supported by giant columns, crowned by 15 seven-meter-high statues, was redesigned.

This evening, supper included and overnight in Rome.

After a lunch break on your own, we will continue our day of Christian Rome by visiting St John Lateran and St Mary Major., two of the other major basilicas of Rome.


Later, we will transfer to the major Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore in center city. 

The largest church in Rome dedicated to the Virgin Mary, hence the name, and one of the first to be built in her honor, Santa Maria Maggiore is located on Piazza Esquilino, not far from the Termini train station. It is the only basilica among these four to have preserved the Paleochristian structure of the 5th century, even though it underwent several makeovers and additions 

 

Day 9 - Saturday, March 11

Morning departure from Leonardo d’Vinci Airport  (FCO) to Washington Dulles Airport (IAD) .

 

Coliseum, located just east of the Roman Forum, the massive stone amphitheater was commissioned around A.D. 70-72 by Emperor Vespasian of the Flavian dynasty as a gift to the Roman people. In A.D. 80, Vespasian’s son Titus opened the Colosseum–officially known as the Flavian Amphitheater–with 100 days of games, including gladiatorial combats and wild animal fights.

Capitoline Hill: The Capitoline Hill is the smallest among the seven hills of Rome. Even though it is the smallest it played a huge part in the religious and political aspects of Rome since the founding of the city center.  

Pantheon: The Pantheon is the best preserved building from ancient Rome and was completed in 125 AD in the reign of Hadrian. Its magnificent dome is a lasting testimony to the genius of Roman architects and as the building stands virtually intact it offers a unique opportunity for the modern visitor to step back 2,000 years and experience the glory that was Rome.  

As legend has it, Rome was founded in 753 B.C. by Romulus and Remus, twin sons of Mars, the god of war.

A people known for their military, political, and social institutions, the ancient Romans conquered vast amounts of land in Europe and northern Africa, built roads and aqueducts, and spread Latin, their language, far and wide.

Piazza Navona is one of the most beautiful and famous squares in the centre of Rome. In 86 CE, emperor Domitian commissioned this square with its unique, elongated shape. This shape is the result of its original function as the stadium for athletics competitions (Circus Agonalis) with stands for 20,000 spectators.

Piazza Navona::The main attraction of Piazza Navona is the trio of fountains that adorn the square. The central and largest fountain is the Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi (Fountain of the Four Rivers). It was constructed between 1647 and 1651 on request of pope Innocent X.

Spanish Steps: The elegant staircase of 135 steps was inaugurated in the Jubilee Year of 1725 by Pope Benedict XIII, originally used to link the Bourbon Spanish Embassy to the Church of Trinità dei Monti. The name comes from the Spanish Embassy to the Vatican that has been located in the piazza since the 1600s.

The Spanish steps also represent figuratively and metaphorically the close relationship between the Sacred and the Eternal city, shown through the elevation and vastness of the monument. The longest and widest steps in Europe are also an important landmark in Rome as they host events and are home to Italian traditions.


Fountain of Trevi: It is the largest Baroque fountain in the city and the most beautiful in the world. A traditional legend holds that if visitors throw a coin into the fountain, they are ensured a return to Rome.  The Trevi Fountain is situated at the end of the Aqua Virgo, an aqueduct constructed in 19 BC by Agrippa, the son-in-law of Emperor Augustus.

Over time the legend of the Trevi Fountain evolved to tossing a coin in to ensure a return to Rome. The precise legend of the Trevi Fountain says you should stand with your back to the fountain and toss a coin over your left shoulder to guarantee a return trip to Rome.

 This evening we will enjoy a “Farewell Dinner with wine and music included at a local tratorria .

Much of today’s tour will be on foot, please wear comfortable shoes and clothing.               

Fratelli Group Travel

TRAVEL & TOURS