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CMDA 2018 Italy Tour

Schedule
DAY 1: 17 May, 2018  ARRIVAL VENICE / MESTRE
Upon arrival at Venice’s airport, transfer to hotel located in Meste. Some time at leisure to rest. Dinner and overnight in Mestre Hotel.
 
DAY 2: 18 May, 2018  MESTRE / VENICE / MESTRE
Soon after breakfast, transfer to central Venice by private motor-boat and meet your local guide. Enjoy a tour of the magnificent Piazza and Basilica of St. Mark's, its marvelous Byzantine-style architecture studded with colored marbles and glittering gold mosaics and housing the tomb of the Evangelist Mark. Visit also the elaborate Doge's Palace, sumptuous home of the former Venetian rulers with its famous Bridge of Sighs, where prisoners crossed before being led to the dungeons.
 
Some time at leisure for an optional gondola ride or for shopping. In the afternoon you might have a visit to the permanent historical exhibition called: “The Waldesian: Eight centuries of history” in the centrally located “Palazzo Cavagni”. The Waldesian Church of Italy is the oldest protestant Church of the world.
 
Or walk on your own throughout the “calle” (streets) and squares where the Italian Reformer Paolo Vergerio used to make speeches against the Church of Rome.
 
Return to hotel. Dinner and overnight in Mestre Hotel.
 
DAY 3:  17 May, 2018  MESTRE / RAVENNA / FLORENCE
Early morning departure towards south. Reach Ravenna in approx 1.5 hr drive and meet the local guide for a walking tour.
Within its ancient walls it keeps the richest heritage of mosaics dating from the 5th and 6th centuries. For this reason its early Christian and Byzantine religious buildings have been acknowledged as world heritage by Unesco. See the Mausoleum of Galla Placidia which hides a ceiling of infinite stars,  and the refined composition that decorates Neonian Baptistery  which is inspired by a cultured Hellenic tradition.
 
Some time at leisure for lunch before continuing south to reach Florence in the late afternoon.

Dinner and overnight in Florence Hotel.

DAY 4: 20 May, 2018  FLORENCE
Your guide will meet you at hotel this morning and stay with you for a full day guided tour of the city.  Discover the cradle of the Renaissance where one breathes art in the medieval streets, in the craftsmen's workshops, and in the Renaissance Palaces.
Here the memories of the Medici family are united with the splendor of the works of illustrious artists such as Michelangelo, Da Vinci and Botticelli.
 
You will see the famous “Gates of Paradis Doors” of the Baptistery of St. John (entrance excluded), the religious essence of the city, the remarkable Duomo, the Basilica of San Lorenzo, Piazza della Signoria, and the Basilica of Santa Croce, a masterpiece of Gothic art and the pantheon of famous Italians such as Michelangelo and Machiavelli. The tour ends at the Accademia Gallery, which hosts Michelangelo’s famous David.
 
The rest of the day is at leisure to explore additional treasures of Florence and shop on your own. The outdoor Market of San Lorenzo boasts leather products, and the Ponte Vecchio, covered since medieval times with goldsmiths' shops, is a must for Florence's other specialty, gold jewelry.
 
Dinner and overnight in Florence Hotel.

DAY 5: 21 May, 2018  FLORENCE / SIENA / ASSISI
Depart Florence soon after breakfast. Drive through the scenic Tuscan countryside to reach Siena in a 1.5 hour drive. Famed for the rich red color of its cityscape, Siena is home of the Palio, a horse race dating from medieval times and which takes place each July in Siena's central square! Enjoy Siena's major treasures, including its fabulous marble gothic cathedral.
 
Regain your bus and continue towards south to reach Assisi in approx 2.5 hr drive.

Dinner and overnight in Assisi Hotel.

DAY 6: 22 May, 2018  ASSISI
Early morning departure towards the north, through the Umbrian green hills covered in olive groves and vineyards to reach Assisi in a 2 hour drive. Upon arrival, meet your local guide and start an unforgettable walk through the narrow streets of the ancient town which sweeps the flanks of Monte Subasio. You will visit the Church of Santa Chiara, the site where St. Francis was born and then on to see the house where he spent the first years of his life. You will then reach the very heart of the town, the Piazza del Comune (Town Hall square), with its Roman and medieval buildings. Then, near the ancient city walls, you will visit the Basilica of St Francis, which houses the tomb of the Saint. The interiors are decorated with frescoes from the 12th and 13th centuries.
 
Some time at leisure for lunch before transfer by bus to the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli to visit the small Portiuncola chapel and the site where St. Francis died in 1226.
 
Return to hotel. Dinner and overnight in Assisi Hotel.
 
DAY 7: 23 May, 2018  ASSISI / ANCIENT ROME 
Early morning departure towards south to reach Rome in 2.5 hrs drive.
 
Upon arrival meet your local guide and have a walking tour through the real core of Ancient Rome. This tour will show you the great “power” of Rome and Emperors who demanded divinity for themselves. This was mainly what Paul preached against in Roman 1-25.
 
Romans 1:25 …. and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed forever.

From the  Trajan's Column, jewel of architecture and sculpture made by Apollodorus of Damascus, our guide will show you along the Via dei Fori Imperiali (street of the Imperial Fora), the ruins of the fori that the great emperors built as lasting memory of their power. You will see the Forum of Trajan, the biggest and most splendid of all, whose markets, true forerunners of the modern commercial centers, offered to the Roman citizen any goods to be found at that time. On foot you will reach the Capitoline Hill , once political and religious center of the town, which today is the seat of the Municipality. The stairway will lead you to the Piazza del Campidoglio, the magnificent result of a single project by Michelangelo, with a copy of the most famous equestrian statue in the world, the statue of Marcus Aurelius, in the middle. Behind Piazza del Campidoglio you will find a natural terrace providing the best panoramic point over the valley of the Roman Forum and the Palatine Hill.
 
Walking through the valley of the Roman Forum the great Rome with its important buildings will revive before your eyes; the Curia, seat of the Roman Senate, the State Archive, the basilicas, palaces of justice, the temple of Vesta, and the House of the Vestals, the virgins in charge of keeping the sacred fire always alive, and all around temples and columns and arches of triumph erected to commemorate gods of Roman history.
 
Romans 1:23……and changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man…..

From the Forum the guide will show you to the place linked to the fabulous origins of Rome: the Palatine. Here Romolus founded the town in the year 753 B.C. and starting with Augustus the great emperors settled here. From the valley of the Roman Forum you will admire the Domus Tiberiana only partially explored and the ruins of the Imperial Palaces. Leaving the Roman Forum you will find the Arch of Constantine, erected to commemorate the victory of the emperor over  Maxentius in the 4th century A.D. (tradition says  that before the battle the Emperor saw a brilliant cross in the sky and said the famous words “in hoc signo vinces”).
 
The tour ends at   the Colosseum, the everlasting symbol of the greatness of Rome and the stage for the historical fights of the gladiators.
 
Transfer to your hotel located in central Rome. Some time at disposal to relax or to discover the city on your own.  

Dinner and overnight in Rome Hotel.

DAY 8: 24 May, 2018  PAUL’S SITES / FOUNTAINS AND SQUARES   
 
This tour is a combination of the most interesting sites which are linked with the life of the Apostle Paul in Rome.

ABBEY OF THE THREE FOUNTAINS
The place of Paul’s martyrdom, where tradition has it that  three different springs gushed out at each spot touched when Paul’s head fell down.
 
CATACOMBS OF SAN SEBASTIAN
Located on the  Ancient Appian Way, this is the place where the bodies of Apostle Paul and Apostle Peter where kept during the Christian persecution of Valeriano (253 – 260 AC) which gave the first Christians the opportunity to venerate the  tombs of the two Apostles.  This is the reason  why this place is still today called MEMORIA APOSTOLORUM. To prove  this, there are a lot of “grafiti” in Latin and Aramaic in the catacombs  and in the Basilica of San Sebastian, as well.  The Basilica itself was built over the catacombs during the “Costantinianum Peace” in the name of the two Apostles.              .

ST PAUL OUTSIDE THE WALLS
St. Paul Outside the Walls is a Benedictine Abbey which shares its name ,origins and centuries of history, both joyful and sorrowful, with the adjoining basilica. Visit the Basilica where the bones of Paul have recently been found. You will leave Rome with the real spirit of first Christians in your mind and in your Heart.
 
The rest of the day is at leisure to have the opportunity to discover the Baroque center of Rome on your own. You can see the Trevi Fountain and Spanish Steps. Relax in a coffee bar or do shopping in the fashion district around via Condotti.
   
Return to hotel. Dinner and overnight in Rome Hotel.
 
DAY 9: 25 May, 2018  VATICAN & EARLY CHRISTIAN CHURCHES
Meet the guide at your hotel and transfer to the Vatican Museum.

Passing through the Court of the Pigna, designed by Bramante in the 16th century, you will enter the Belvedere Palace to reach the heart of the museum, the Belvedere Courtyard. Proceeding with the visit you will quickly pass the secondary galleries to reach the Greek Cross Room where the splendid Sarcophagi of St. Helene and St. Constance are housed. Walking through the Galleries of the Candelabra, of the Maps and of the Tapestries you will reach the Apostolic Palace, the oldest section of the complex of the Vatican Palaces. Your guide will show you the Apartments of Julius II, splendidly decorated by Raphael and his assistants, and then the Sistine Chapel, where you will admire one of the highest masterpieces of art: the Genesis and the Last Judgement by Michelangelo, that have gained their original splendour after the latest restorations. Leaving the Sistine Chapel and going down the Royal Stairway, projected by Bernini, the guide will conduct you to the Basilica of St. Peter, the most important temple of Christianity, which gathers inside 2000 years of history and famous works of art such as the Pietà by Michelangelo.
The visit ends at St. Peter’s  Square,  which is embraced by the colonnade, an architectural  masterpiece by Bernini, under the symbolic protection of the "Cuppolone", as the Romans call Michelangelo's dome.
 
The afternoon is dedicated to the visit of two among the most important Christians Churches  of Rome, San John di Lateran and the Holy Cross of Jerusalem. These churches are symbolic of the importance that Constantine placed on his adopted new faith. The properties for both were donated by Constantine’s family, signifying that importance.
 
You will visit also the Santa Scala, the Holy Steps, which are reputed to be the steps that Christ went up when he was called for a meeting with Pontius Pilate. A visit to these steps was recorded as one of the sites that Martin Luther visited when he was called by the Pope to Rome. 
 
Return to hotel. Farewell Dinner and overnight in Rome Hotel.
 
DAY 10: 26 May, 2018  DEPARTURE 
Transfer to the airport for your return flight home