Will vary depending on group size and school needs
Visit the sacred sites of early Christianity and monasticism, walk through temples of the gods, marvel at Renaissance masterpieces, swim in the waters of ancient heroes, and let wonder be your guide as Italy becomes your classroom.
Our nine-day journey will bring us to some of the most important classical and Christian pilgrimage sites in Western civilization. We will explore the origins of the Roman Republic and Empire, including the Colosseum, Forum, and Pantheon. We’ll visit the sites where Christianity first blossomed in the early churches of Rome. We’ll witness the architecture, frescoes, mosaic, and sculptures that were modeled after a vision of God as we visit Saint Peter’s and the Vatican in Rome, as we climb towards the celestial spheres in Brunelleschi’s dome, as we encounter the determined glance of Michelangelo’s David, the radiance of Botticelli’s Spring, and Fra Angelico’s Annunciation that proclaims the message of Christ. We’ll feast at traditional Italian meals in the fellowship of locals and friends, swim in the pristine waters of the Mediterranean, walk through ancient Greek temples and towns in Paestum and Herculaneum, pray together in thousand year old churches, catacombs, and monasteries, and seek to discover a more beautiful vision of ourselves as we experience the beauty of the world, history, and lives of saints that surround us.
Will vary depending on group size and school needs
Tour dates can be reserved by request only
Your Alithea guide will meet you at the airport and bring you to the starting point of our journey, Florence. We’ll use our drive as an orientation to Alithea’s style of travel and a consideration of Pilgrimage. After checking into our hotel in Florence, a Renaissance Palazzo, we’ll head out for a pre-dinner stroll to discover the city of Dante, Brunesceschi, Michelangelo, and the artists whose vision of humanity helped shape our lives today.
For dinner this evening, we’ll dine alla Fiorentina. We’ll celebrate our first night in Italy with a traditional Florentine meal in a family restaurant famous for it’s Florentine steak, gnocchi, and wine.
Travel time: ~3.5 hrs.
After a time of prayer and reflection our morning will continue as we walk through the square of Santa Annunciata and familiarize ourselves with the life of the citizens of the city in medieval times. Our walk with our local guide will walk us through the history of the city and the foundations of Renaissance. Our morning will include visits to the Baptistry with its marvelous mosaic ceiling and the Duomo Museum with its many treasures including the original 'Gates of Paradise' by Ghiberti. The zenith of our morning's activities will be to ascend to the top of Brunelleschi's dome where we will quite literally stand on top of one of the city's greatest achievements.
Our afternoon will continue with a visit to Dante’s house whose work, the Divine Comedy, leads us towards a beatific vision of God. Walking through some of the city's most important streets we'll slowly stroll towards San Miniato where we'll arrive just in time for vespers, the last service of the evening still chanted by the monks in their thousand-year-old church. This evening we’ll dine in the Ultra Arno, the quaint neighborhood of Florence that still feels like a small Italian town.
After breakfast in our hotel, a former Renaissance palazzo, we’ll take a stroll with our local guide to the monastery of Saint Mark's. Here we'll glimpse the prayerful life of a medieval monk as we contemplate the incredible frescoed scenes from the life of Christ as painted by the school of Fran Angelico in the cloistered cells of the former monastery.
Our morning will begin with a visit to the spectacular Uffizi Gallery, which contains the greatest collection of Renaissance art held anywhere in the world. As our guide leads us through the museum, we’ll witness a transformation from the medieval and Byzantine style iconic paintings that once adorned churches to the humanist and Renaissance paintings of Botticelli, Michelangelo, and Leonardo da Vinci.
After our morning museum visit, we'll break into small groups to continue to explore the city.
We'll regroup in the later part of the afternoon for one final stroll through the city as we strive to understand the conditions and vision of beauty that led to the Renaissance. Together, we’ll experience how the Christian religious life of the city inspired a fresh vision of the beautiful, the good, and the true. Our walk will conclude at the Accademia Gallery where we’ll see Michelangelo’s David and his spectacular ‘unfinished’ statues.
After breakfast this morning we’ll leave our Renaissance palazzo behind to take the high-speed train down to Naples. Our bus will meet us at the station where we’ll load up our luggage before enjoying a pizza lunch, alla Napolitano, Italy’s region most famous for the Italian dish that we’ve all come to love.
After lunch we’ll travel by bus for a visit to nearby Pompeii. This ancient Roman town was destroyed and subsequently saved by the eruption of the volcano Vesuvius in the first century A.D. Our local guide will walk us through this astonishingly preserved town, where we’ll feel like time-travelers as we explore the stone streets, wander through beautifully frescoed homes, walk through temples and theatres, and learn about the daily life of the citizens.
In the late afternoon we’ll arrive at our beautiful Agriturismo, a seventeenth-century villa, farm, and vineyard, where we’ll have just enough time for a quick swim in the pool before a family-style meal with food produced by our wonderful Italian hosts.
Travel time: ~4 hrs.
After breakfast in our Agriturismo we’ll continue our classical pilgrimage with a guided visit of the ancient Greek city at Paestum. As we enter the high stone walls, we’ll see some of the best preserved Greek temples anywhere in the world. The temples to Poseidon, Hera, and Athena offer an insight into modes of worship that bestowed the highest honor on the divine in nature and humanity. Walking these ancient stone streets and meandering through the foundations of homes, theaters, and marketplaces, we can almost hear the voices of those who once filled this city named for the god Poseidon and the rustle of the waves in the nearby sea.
The second part of our morning will be dedicated to observing the Italian tradition of making buffalo mozzarella by hand. For today’s lunch we’ll taste some of that same mozzarella as we enjoy another slow-food farm to table experience.
This afternoon we’ll head for a relaxing swim in the nearby sea before regrouping for a cooking class alla Italiana. This evening we’ll eat what we cook and celebrate with local musicians as we enjoy our family style meal.
Travel time: ~45 mins.
This morning we’ll depart early to drive to the mountains of Subiaco where Saint Benedict first dedicated himself to a life of prayer focused on the goodness of God. It was here, on the side of the cliff overlooking the beauty of the surrounding mountains, that the saint founded his first monastic community and developed the monastic rule that would not only guide Christians towards a life of work and prayer but also help to shape all of Western civilization.
Our morning of pilgrimage will follow in the steps of countless others, including Saint Francis who visited this pilgrimage site in the thirteenth century. We will begin our morning at the lower, more recent monastery of Saint Benedict, then we’ll walk up the stone path to the monastery of the Holy Cave, Sacro Speco, where Saint Benedict first lived and which houses a stunning cycle of frescoes dating back to the eighth century. Here we’ll take time for quiet reflection, to encounter the monks, and to consider Benedict’s fuga mundi, flight from the world, and his dedication to a life of prayer and work.
After lunch with the monks we’ll continue our journey to the Eternal City, Roma Eterna. We’ll check into our hotel, an elegant convent dating back to the 17th century, then head out for an evening stroll through the city before dinner and an evening visit to the Vatican Museum.
Travel time: ~4.5 hrs.
After breakfast this morning, we’ll head over to Saint Peter’s to pray and reflect in the church built over the place Saint Peter was crucified. This cornerstone of the Catholic faith will lead us upward and inward we see Michelangelo’s pieta and the magnificent dome over the papal altar. This morning we will divide into two groups and as one is guided through the Basilica of Saint Peter with our local guide the other will descend through the excavated layers to the tomb of saint Peter, providing a continuous thread between our own life of prayer and the worship of early Christians and martyrs persecuted for their faith. After our visit to Saint Peter's and the Scavi we will break for lunch. Our afternoon will bring us with our local guide to some of the greatest surviving monuments in the city. Together we'll see the Pantheon and explore the underground history of the waters that have been flowing into the city for the last two millennia.
This evening we’ll raise our glasses in toasts, reflections, and the fellowship of our friends as we enjoy a final feast together.
The eternal city is a place of enchantment and wonder, where every corner reveals another layer, every ancient stone points to a fragment of time, and the overwhelming history and beauty of the city is an experience of civilization, humanity, and religion that for millennia have served as the foundation of our own.
This morning, after breakfast, we will begin our visit to this magical city with a visit to San Clemente. This spectacular basilica from the eleventh century is an image of Christian pilgrimage and the many layers of Rome. It was built above an early fourth century church, which was built above a Roman villa, temple, and ancient city streets. This morning, beginning at street level, we’ll descend through each of those now excavated underground layers and seemingly travel back in time more than two-thousand years.
After our visit to San Clemente, our local guide will bring us through the Roman Colosseum, Forum, and Capitoline hill for an introduction to the temples, games, and civic life of ancient Rome. We’ll be free throughout the later part of the afternoon to explore the city in small groups before we regroup to share our adventures over a quintessential dinner alla Romana at a family-run restaurant and then conclude our day with an evening stroll where we will see the Piazza Navona, the Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon, the Spanish Steps, and Hadrian’s Temple. La Dolce Vita.
Those interested will wake up early this morning for a photographic stroll through the city as we watch the sun rise over the forum, Colosseum, and Pantheon. After an early breakfast in our hotel we’ll say farewell to the Eternal City and head to the airport for a final goodbye and to catch our flight home.
To reserve a spot on this tour we ask that you pay a $500 deposit. All deposits are refundable within 30 days of payment.