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Each Cosmos faith-based vacation is limited to an average of just 24 guests per departure. There’s always room to roam with extra space between you and other travelers—while still getting up close and personal to the experiences you’ve been dreaming of. Small-Group Discoveries include all the features of a traditional Cosmos escorted vacation, complete with expert Tour Director, Driver, and Local Guides who ensure that your health and safety is our top priority. A Small-Group Discovery vacation is the perfectly sized tour—without the crowds.
Total meals included:
Welcome to Italy! Check into your hotel, with rest of the day free to explore on your own. This afternoon, meet your Tour Director and fellow travelers, and prepare for your upcoming spiritual journey. Later this evening, a welcome dinner awaits at your hotel.
This morning, attend the PAPAL AUDIENCE (subject to availability) for the chance to see the Pope and receive the Papal Blessing. Later, with a Local Guide visit ST. PAUL OUTSIDE THE WALLS, burial place of St. Paul the Apostle and one of Rome’s four major Papal basilicas, along with ST. JOHN LATERAN BASILICA. Next, visit the SCALA SANCTA (Holy Stairs), transported from Jerusalem to Rome around 326 AD by St. Helena, Emperor Constantine’s mother. These 28 marble steps are traditionally ascended in a kneeling position with a prayer recital dedicated to Jesus Christ. Then, visit the impressive ST. MARY MAJOR BASILICA and attend M Mass.
A different, quite unique experience is offered today. We will take an included excursion to Castel Gandolfo, a quaint village in the hills outside Rome, to visit the PAPAL SUMMER RESIDENCE and GARDENS with a Local Guide. Visit the rooms that have been occupied by many Popes over the centuries and enjoy the opportunity to reflect and meditate in quiet and relaxing surroundings. In the afternoon, enjoy time at leisure in Rome or join the optional excursion to the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel, world famous for Michelangelo’s impressive fresco of The Last Judgment.
Today's Distance: 50 mi / 80 km
On your way south, stop in quaint Pietrelcina, to visit the house where the beloved St. Pio was born, before heading towards San Giovanni Rotondo on the east coast, the Saint’s home from 1916 until his death in 1968.
Today's Distance: 258 mi / 415 km
Attend M Mass this morning at SANTA MARIA DELLE GRAZIE (Old Church), then visit the FRIARY of Padre Pio, including his tomb, cell, confessional, and the PADRE PIO PILGRIMAGE CHURCH (New Church). Afterwards, take a short drive to the nearby SHRINE OF MONTE SANT’ANGELO, one of Christendom’s most celebrated shrines, where St. Michael the Archangel appeared in 490, 492, and 1656. Tonight, attend the evening candlelight procession in San Giovanni Rotondo.
Today's Distance: 43 mi / 70 km
Visit ST. FRANCIS’ church in Lanciano, home of the Sanctuary of the Eucharistic Miracle, and attend morning M Mass. Continue to the SANCTUARY OF LORETO, including the HOLY HOUSE, where, according to tradition, angels transported the home of the blessed Virgin Mary. Arrive at the hilltop village of Assisi, home of St. Francis and St. Clare.
Today's Distance: 298 mi / 480 km
Today, learn more about St. Francis, patron saint of animals and the environment. Attend early morning M Mass at ST. FRANCIS BASILICA, famous for its 14th-century Giotto paintings depicting the life of St. Francis. Meet your Local Guide and visit the UPPER and LOWER BASILICAS of St. Francis and the BASILICA OF ST. CLARE, founder of the Order of Poor Clares. Next, visit the BASILICA of Santa Maria degli Angeli, situated at the foot of Assisi’s hills and protecting the Porziuncola, where St. Francis is said to have founded the Order of Friars Minor in 1209, and the Cappella del Transito, where the saint died in 1226.
Travel to Cascia this morning, situated in Umbria and home of St. Rita, the “Patron Saint of Impossible Causes.” Visit the SANCTUARY and see the Major Basilica, the chapel that houses the tomb of St. Rita. Also, see the Minor Basilica, home of the Eucharistic Miracle that is commemorated each year with the Feast of Corpus Christi. Return to Rome for a final overnight stay.
Today's Distance: 149 mi / 240 km
Your vacation ends with breakfast this morning.
It may occasionally be necessary to use alternative hotels of a similar standard to those shown.
Hotel Club House is located in a quiet area behind Rome's Via Aurelia, 100 m from Rome's Cornelia Metro Station and 3 stops away from the Vatican City (2 from the Vatican Museums). All 105 guestrooms boast simple but elegant design furnishings in warm colors and Italian woods and offer air conditioning, free Wi-Fi, and satellite TV. Breakfast is a buffet of fresh cakes and pastries and the in-house bar serves a range of refreshing wines, exotic cocktails, and snacks.
The Hotel Pineta Palace is a 4-star hotel in Rome, located not far from Vatican City.
This family-run, 205-room hotel boasts a large outdoor area with an Olympic-size swimming pool, a wonderful sun terrace and a room with a grand piano. The in-house restaurant offers both traditional and international cuisine and Free Wi-Fi access is available throughout the property.
Casa Leonori is located in Santa Maria degli Angeli, facing the Subasio Hills on which lies the Assisi Basilica. This 60-room hotel is set in its own courtyard and boasts a a gourmet restaurant and spacious communal areas. The adjacent courtyard offers a nice alternative to relax with its green and peaceful location. Free Wi-Fi internet access is available throughout the property.
Our expert Tour Directors help you get the most out of every place you visit - and have a 96% customer satisfaction rating.
We’re delighted to have achieved the Good Housekeeping Reader Recommended endorsement for customer experience.
We are a member of ABTA and our flight-inclusive holidays are protected by ATOL. If your holiday is cancelled for any reason, you’ll receive a full refund.