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Wonders of Southern Italy

Fr Bradley Rafter


A 14-day pilgrimage to Southern Italy with optional extension to Rome. Accompanied by Fr Bradley Rafter S.T.B.

30 March – 12 April 2019. Sicily – Syracuse (4) / Noto / Palazzolo Acreide / Catania / Taormina – Sicily (3) / Tindari / Milazzo / Salerno (1) / Positano / Sorrento (2) / Pompeii / Mugnano del Cardinale / Montecassino / Optional Rome Extension (3).

 
Wonders of Southern Italy
MEAL CODE: B: Breakfast   L: Lunch   D: Dinner
ITINERARY
DAY 1: SATURDAY 30TH MARCH 2019 - DEPART FOR ITALY
DAY 2: SUNDAY 31ST MARCH - ARRIVE SICILY

After our arrival into Rome we will be transferred to a domestic flight to Catania, where we will be welcomed by our guide and transferred to our hotel in Syracuse.

Syracuse is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The monuments and archaeological sites situated in Syracuse are the finest example of outstanding architectural creation spanning several cultural aspects; Greek, Roman and Baroque. Established Ancient Syracuse was “directly linked to events, ideas and literary works of outstanding universal significance”.

Syracuse overnight (D)

DAY 3: MONDAY 1ST APRIL - SYRACUSE

The tour will begin with a visit to the Catacombs of St. John, containing some 20,000 early Christian tombs. In Roman times, Christians were not allowed to bury their dead within the city limits, so they went outside the boundaries of Syracuse to create burial chambers in what had been used by the Greeks as underground aqueducts. The early Christians turned these into chapels.

St. Paul who spent three days in Syracuse with St. Luke, is said to have given his first talk to the Christian community here on this spot, the Crypt of St Marciano (Acts 28: 12). Ever since, it has been venerated as a holy place by the early Christians. Continue in the afternoon with a visit to the Shrine of Our Lady of Tears.

In September 1953, a plaster plaque of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, placed over the headboard of the bed of a young couple, Angelo Iannuso and Antonina Giusto, shed human tears (confirmed by scientific analysis). The phenomenon took place at more or less long intervals inside and outside of the home. Many saw, touched, gathered and tasted the salt of the tears. An amateur film maker was able to capture the event on film, making this one of the very few documented miraculous happenings.

Today the home in Via degli Orti is a place of prayer and recollection. Where the miraculous image hung over the bed, there is now an altar where each day the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is celebrated.

Syracuse overnight (BD)

DAY 4: TUESDAY 2ND APRIL - SYRACUSE

After breakfast, our first stop for the day will be the Byzantine Church of St Lucy, patron saint of Syracuse. The structure is said to have been built on the site where she was martyred in 303 AD. Then a tour of Ortigia, the historical heart of Syracuse. The charming, narrow medieval streets will lead us past romantic Baroque palaces and churches and on to the main sights of interest. Delight at the majestic ruins of the Greek Temple of Apollo, the regal Piazza Duomo and the legendary Arethusa fountain. Other points of interest include Piazza Archimede.

During our time here also explore Ortigia’s vibrant and colourful market. The heart of the market is devoted to local produce with its exotic aromatic fusion of freshly picked lemons and oranges, unusual spices and local cheeses. Continue with a visit to the archaeological park of Neapolis with its Roman amphitheatre and the Ear of Dionysius.

Syracuse overnight (BD)

DAY 5: WEDNESDAY 3RD APRIL - NOTO & PALAZZOLO ACREIDE

We travel south today by coach to Noto, the European capital of Baroque. This beautiful city is home to many religious monuments. St. Clares – a ‘new’ church rebuilt after the earthquake of 1693; Saint Saviour Church, the Cathedral of St Nicholas (the mother church), and the Church of Montevergini with its great views from the roof terrace (for those who wish to make the climb) are among the highlights.

From Noto we travel north but further inland to Palazzolo Acreide, claimed to be one of the most beautiful villages in Italy. Here we will see more beautiful Baroque architecture including the churches of St. Paul, St. Sebastian and Church of the Annunciation. We return to Syracuse in time for dinner.

Syracuse overnight (BD)

DAY 6: THURSDAY 4TH APRIL - VIA CATANIA TO TAORMINA

We depart Syracuse this morning, journeying north by coach to Catania. On arrival, take a stroll on the famous sea-coast passeggiata. Our group Mass will be in the Cathedral of St. Agatha, dedicated to the patron saint of Sicily. It is believed that carrying the saint’s veil, taken from her tomb in Catania in procession has averted eruptions of Mount Etna. Visit the famous fish market, Crociferi Street, Etnea Street and roman amphitheatre.

En route to Mt Etna, enjoy the Cyclops Riviera - a charming stretch of coastline north of Catania made up of lava stone from Etna’s numerous eruptions. Continue towards the vicinity of Mt Etna, so we can admire one of the most active volcanoes in Europe. In the late afternoon depart for Taormina - one of the most attractive cities in Sicily.

Taormina overnight (BD)

DAY 7: FRIDAY 5TH APRIL - TAORMINA

Taormina is renowned for its location and inspiring outlook on the open sea. During our time here we will enter the Church of Varò, a Spanish word meaning “visitation”. This stunning church has one of the most elaborate interiors of all the churches in Taormina with white stuccos and chandeliers. Construction dates back to the 15th century, however the medieval crypt which was used by Christians as a hiding place hints that the church has more ancient origins.

Today also explore the historic city centre and the beautiful ancient Greek Theatre.

Taormina overnight (BD)

DAY 8: SATURDAY 6TH APRIL – TINDARI PILGRIMAGE

Travel out today to Tindari, a Greek colony founded in 396BC on the northern coast of Sicily and now a pilgrimage site. It is set high on a hill with great view of the Aeolian islands.

The Shrine of the Black Madonna is a very popular pilgrimage site. According to local tradition, the statue of the Black Madonna (of Byzantine origin), was one of many works of art smuggled out of Constantinople in the 8th and 9th centuries during the period of Iconoclasm initiated by Emperor Leo III. A storm forced the ship carrying the Black Madonna into the port of Tindari, where the sailors deposited their load at the local abbey for safekeeping. She now sits behind the altar with the inscription “nigro sum sed formosa” (black am I, but beautiful).

Time permitting on our return journey we can stop for a visit of the magnificent traditional seaside/port town of Milazzo.

Taormina overnight (BD)

DAY 9: SUNDAY 7TH APRIL - TAORMINA TO SALERNO

Today is a travel day by ferry and coach, from the island of Sicily across the Mediterranean again on to the mainland of Italy, journeying north to Salerno.

Salerno overnight (BD)

DAY 10: MONDAY 8TH APRIL - SALERNO TO SORRENTO

The Amalfi Coast (la Costiera Amalfitana) is a beautiful and renowned stretch of mountainous coastline south of Naples, in Campania. It is dotted with picturesque villages and towns clinging to cliffs. Stacked precariously above the sea, for decades these fishing villages have been one of Italy’s major tourist attractions.

There are plenty of photo opportunities as we travel today by ferry (weather permitting) or smaller buses hugging Italy’s finest coastline, the Amalfi Coast. Our first stop will be the town of Amalfi. Highlights of our visit here include the Duomo with its relics of St Andrew, the crypt and adjacent Cloister of Paradise.

Continue on to enjoy some time in the pedestrian town of Positano. Walking through the village, we will spot the dome of the Collegiate Church of Santa Maria Assunta. Enjoy some time to wander and explore at your own pace, before finally arriving in to Sorrento. Set on a plateau with spectacular views across the Bay of Naples to Vesuvius, Sorrento is famed for its beauty, charm and hospitable people.

Sorrento overnight (BD)

DAY 11: TUESDAY 9TH APRIL – MUGNANO DEL CARDINALE & POMPEII

St. Philomena, Virgin and Martyr, lived in a 3rd century world dominated by the Empire of Rome. Under Emperor Diocletian it was a time of unbridled materialism, love of power, greed self -indulgence, hedonism and decay. St. Philomena provides us all, but most especially to the youth of today, with a shining and powerful example of how we are to live our lives, focused totally on what is of eternal importance, that being “love of God and the truth” through Christ and his divine mercy.

Today we journey to the beautiful International Shrine of St Philomena in Mugnano del Cardinale. It is here that the earthly remains of St Philomena rest. During our time here we will have the opportunity to pray before her relics, spend some time at the side altar dedicated to her, and visit the museum.

Continue to nearby Pompeii, the city which was petrified and engulfed by the eruption of Mt Vesuvius in 79AD. On arrival we embark on a guided visit of the ruins of ancient Pompeii. See a patrician home, public baths, and shops that give a striking picture of what day-to-day life was like. We return to Sorrento in time for dinner.

Sorrento overnight (BD)

DAY 12: WEDNESDAY 10TH APRIL - MONTECASSINO & DEPART ITALY

Departing Sorrento, we commence our day’s journey towards Rome. Heading north we firstly wind our way up to the spectacular mountaintop Abbey of Montecassino, founded in 529 by St Benedict, patron saint of Europe and the founder of Western Monasticism. The Abbey was carefully rebuilt after the epic battle of 1944 and still dominates the surrounding countryside from its mountaintop setting. We will have a guided visit on arrival. The Basilica is richly decorated with mosaics. We come as pilgrims to pray before the relics of St Benedict and his sister, St Scholastica. The museum displays examples of medieval monastic art.

We then continue north to Rome airport for our homebound flight connections (Or join optional Rome extension). (B)

DAY 13: THURSDAY 11TH APRIL - IN TRANSIT
DAY 14: FRIDAY 12TH APRIL - ARRIVE AUSTRALIA
OPTIONAL ROME EXTENSION - DAY 12: WEDNESDAY 10TH APRIL - VIA MONTECASSINO TO ROME

Departing Sorrento, we commence our day’s journey towards Rome. Heading north we firstly wind our way up to the spectacular mountaintop Abbey of Montecassino, founded in 529 by St Benedict, patron saint of Europe and the founder of Western Monasticism. The Abbey was carefully rebuilt after the epic battle of 1944 and still dominates the surrounding countryside from its mountaintop setting. We will have a guided visit on arrival. The Basilica is richly decorated with mosaics. We come as pilgrims to pray before the relics of St Benedict and his sister, St Scholastica. The museum displays examples of medieval monastic art. We then continue north to Rome, the Eternal City.

Rome overnight (BD)

OPTIONAL ROME EXTENSION - DAY 13: THURSDAY 11TH APRIL - ROME PILGRIMAGE

Commence our time in Rome with a spectacular Mass at St Peter’s Basilica before coming to the nearby Vatican Museums. Wander the spectacular chambers leading to the Sistine Chapel to view Michelangelo’s masterpieces, including the magnificent fresco of the Last Judgment. Continue through to the awe inspiring St. Peter’s Basilica, the largest church in the world for an informative exploration. Our guided tour will feature among other highlights Michelangelo’s stunning Pieta, the tomb of Pope St John Paul II, the great Confessional and the Crypt containing the tombs of several Popes.

In the afternoon, visit the impressive St Mary Major Basilica. Onwards to the Basilica of St John in Lateran (First Papal residence) and the adjacent Holy Stairs brought from Jerusalem to Rome in 326AD by St Helena (as a favourite of pilgrims, these steps may only be ascended on the knees). Visit the Basilica of Santa Croce in Gerusalemme with its extraordinary collection of relics from the Holy Land.

Rome overnight (BD)

OPTIONAL ROME EXTENSION - DAY 14: FRIDAY 12TH APRIL - ROME PILGRIMAGE

Journey this morning out to the majestic Basilica of St Paul Outside the Walls. Originally consecrated in 324, the saint’s tomb is visible now under the Papal Altar. We will celebrate a wonderful Mass here as a special tribute to the Church’s greatest evangelist. Continue then to the ancient Catacombs for a memorable guided tour to marvel at these underground burial tunnels for Christians and Hebrews. Final afternoon at leisure.

This evening we will celebrate our final night in Rome at L’Eau Vive French Restaurant run by missionary nuns who actually sing the Ave Maria to us between courses!

Rome overnight (BD)

OPTIONAL ROME EXTENSION - DAY 15: SATURDAY 13TH APRIL - DEPART ROME

Today we will be transferred to the airport for our homebound or onward flight connections. (B)

OPTIONAL ROME EXTENSION - DAY 16: SUNDAY 14TH APRIL - IN TRANSIT
OPTIONAL ROME EXTENSION - DAY 17: MONDAY 15TH APRIL - ARRIVE AUSTRALIA

Need to talk? Call 1800 819 156

AIR & TOUR PACKAGE COST Single Supplement Tipping
Pilgrimage Depart - Arrive Australia AUD AUD AUD
9PV08 30 Mar - 12 Apr 2019 $6990 $980 $180
Rome Extension 10 Apr - 15 Apr 2019 $1390 $280 $60
NB: Costs have been based on prices as at March 2018 and must remain subject to possible change in the unlikely event of significant exchange rate variations, airfare increases and minimum group size (20) contingencies.


INCLUSIONS
Airfares: Return Economy class airfare from Australia (N.B. Airlines taxes are included on standard itinerary and subject to fluctuations). Accommodation & Meals: Based on moderate standard accommodation throughout with breakfast & dinner daily.  Miscellaneous inclusions: • Deluxe Air- Conditioned Motor coach with driver • Local tour guide • Sightseeing and entrance fees throughout itinerary.  Not Included: Passport and Visa Costs • Prepaid Tipping • Other meals not stated • Items of a personal nature including phone calls, laundry, beverages, etc. • Travel insurance (Harvest will recommend a special group policy rate).


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