Shrines of the South of Italy
Study Religion in Southern Italy
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As you arrive in Italy’s bustling capital, meet your guide and head over to your hotel. There is a lot of ground to cover in Rome, so get started by grabbing a bite at Mercato Testaccio, a farmers market offering fresh, local fare. Next, explore more of the area with a stop by popular Trevi Fountain and an authentic look at Rome in Trastevere. End your first day with gorgeous panoramic views of the city from Gianicolo Hill.
Wake up the Italian way with a hot cappuccino, then strap on comfortable shoes for a full day of exploration. Up first, you’ll visit the second largest Roman cathedral, Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls. Founded on St. Paul’s burial ground, this is an excellent introduction into Catholic history. Next, head to one of the oldest and largest basilicas in the world devoted to Mother Mary, St. Mary Major. After touring the shrines, end your evening with an authentic pasta dinner in town.
Today you’ll commute northeast to the town of Cascia. Continuing your spiritually-laced tour, stop in to check out the Basilica of Saint Rita. Saint Rita of Cascia was one of the most revered saints, and the famous Eucharistic Miracle is preserved here in the lower chapel.
After breakfast, venture to a highlight of your trip, the city of Assisi, the birthplace of well-known St. Francis of Assisi. As you’ll see, much of his life is represented throughout the area. First, take a tour of two major shrines: the Basilica of St. Francis, and the Basilica of St. Clare. Learn about the life of these two spiritual soulmates and dive into the rich history of each. Up next, make your way to Santa Maria degli Angeli (aka St. Mary of the Angels) for more about St. Francis’ life as he spent most of his time here in the small stone structure, Porziuncola, located inside. Have dinner in town before retiring to your room for the evening.
Day two in Assisi starts at a small church, San Damiano, where tradition claims St. Francis heard the voice of God. After walking the grounds full of beautiful fields and olive trees, head over to San Rufino Cathedral. Here, take in stunning Romanesque architecture and observe the fountain where both St. Francis and St. Clare were baptized. End your day with an organic winery tour at a family-owned winery. There, see the production process from vine to bottle, and sample wines paired with local food.
Today you’ll head back to Rome. On the agenda: the other main cathedrals in the area, Archbasilica of St. John Lateran and St. Peter’s Basilica. At the former, observe the Altar of the Holy Sacrament where history details that Jesus and his Apostles used the table for the Last Supper. After you move on to St. Peter’s Basilica, observe the iconic architecture, including the well-known sculpture, “La Pieta.” Next, tour the Garbatella neighborhood for beautiful courtyards and to grab an early dinner (and gelato for dessert) at one of the restaurants in the area. End this epic journey appropriately with a sunset tour of the Vatican museums.
Today you’ll head home full of a deep appreciation for this spiritually-rich region of Italy.
Considered a “bucket list” travel abroad destination for most Catholics and indeed anyone interested to study religion, Italy is steeped in religious history. From the major basilicas in Rome to the abundant tradition in Assisi, this pilgrimage through a spiritual timeline evokes inspiration and respect from anyone who travels it.
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