Along Italian Roads, Ancient and New

An LGBT Friendly Pilgrimage to Sicily, Naples, and Rome: March 4-14, 2008

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Day 1 – Tuesday March 4 – NEW YORK / ROME

Today we depart New York’s JFK on our overnight flight to Rome. We are served complimentary beverages, in-flight movies, dinner and breakfast.

Day 2 – Wednesday March 5 – PALERMO
This morning we arrive in Rome for a connecting flight to Palermo in Sicily where we visit the magnificent Monreale Cathedral, the Benedictine Monastery Cloister, and the astonishing duomo. We venture on to the Cappella Palatina, the royal chapel of the Norman kings of Sicily, renowned for the unparalleled artistry of its mosaics. After dinner at the hotel, we gather for prayer and introductions of old and new friends.

Day 3 – Thursday March 6 – AGRIGENTO / SIRACUSA

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Valley of the Temples

After Mass, we drive south to the ancient city of Agrigento on the south west coast of Sicily and visit the Valley of the Temples. We continue across Sicily to the east coast to Siracusa for dinner and overnight.

Day 4 – Friday March 7 – SIRACUSA

After Mass we visit the Archaeological Park, Greek Amphitheater, Dionysus Ear, Stone Quarry, and the Altar of Ierone II. In the afternoon, we go to the beautiful Island of Ortigia, with its Cathedral, the Temple of Apollo, the Aretusa natural spring, the Catacomb of San Giovanni, and the crypt of San Marciano. After dinner we gather to reflect on the pilgrimage so far.

Day 5 – Saturday March 8 – MT. ETNA / CATANIA FERRY / NAPLES

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Mount Etna, Italy

After Mass we see Mt. Etna, Italy’s tallest peak and the largest active volcano in Europe, which erupted in 2007 – a truly awesome and beautiful sight. We travel to Catania where, after dinner, we take an overnight ferry to Naples.

Day 6 – Sunday March 9 – NAPLES

After Mass, we begin our day with a tour Naples, including Mergellina,  Lungomare Caracciolo, the Royal Palace, the San Carlo Theater, the Cathedral, the catacombs of San Gennaro, and a beautiful view along the Gulf of Naples. The afternoon is free for shopping or leisure. After dinner at the hotel, we gather for reflection on the pilgrimage.

Day 7 – Monday March 10 – POMPEII

This morning, after celebrating Mass, we have a guided tour of Pompeii, the ancient city buried by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius and rediscovered more than 1600 years later. The afternoon and evening are free for shopping, leisure, and dinner on our own. We overnight at the hotel in Naples.

Day 8 – Tuesday March 11 – MONTE CASSINO / ROME

After Mass, we visit pivotal sites in the life of St. Benedict of Nursia, the founder of the Benedictine Order. At Subiaco, we see the Monastery of St. Scholastica, his twin sister, and Sacro Speco, the Holy Grotto or cave, where St. Benedict lived for three years when he first rejected the decadence of his youth. At Monte Cassino, the monastery where he lived out the rest of his life, St. Benedict wrote the rule that would guide his followers in his monastic tradition. We continue to Rome where we have dinner in the hotel and gather afterwards for reflection on the pilgrimage.

Day 9 – Wednesday March 12 – ROME

On the way to the Vatican we have a panoramic tour of the Villa Borghese and Castel San Angelo. We join with other pilgrims from around the world for an audience with Pope Benedict XVI (if he is in residence). Afterwards we have Mass in the crypt at St. Peter’s Basilica and visit St. John Lateran and the Holy Stairs. Dinner this evening is on our own.

Day 10 – Thursday March 13 – ROME

After Mass this morning, we visit the catacomb of Priscilla which contains many frescoes of women, some of whom are said to be celebrating the Eucharist. We visit the church of St. Paul Outside the Walls, St. Mary Major, and, within walking distance, the church of St. Praxedus, which contains a mosaic of Episcopa Theodora. The remainder of the afternoon is free. We will gather after dinner at the hotel for some farewell remarks.

Day 11 – Friday March 14 – ROME / NEW YORK

We leave Rome to return home through New York’s JFK airport with memories of a lifetime.