Italy Pilgrimage Q & A

Q. What class of hotels are we staying in during the Crossroads Initiative Italy Pilgrimage?

A. We stay in deluxe, superior, first-class hotels.  While the interiors are all up-to-date, our hotel in Assisi is a quaint, historic building inside the medieval town so that pilgrims can walk through the magical medieval streets after supper, or get up early in the morning and walk over to one of Assisi’s many medieval churches and chapels to pray, while it is quiet and uncrowded..  In Rome, we aim for a location that is within walking distance of the Vatican and some of the picturesque evening sights of Rome, such as the Spanish steps.  Such ideal locations in comfortable accommodations are rare to find in group pilgrimages and cost a bit more, but make such a difference in the pilgrimage experience.

For names of the actual hotels we will be staying in in Florence, Rome and Assisi, call Jane at Select International Tours 800-842-4842 

Q. What flights will we be taking? And would it be possible to upgrade to premium economy or business class?

A.  Our tour company, Select International, has arranged group rates from several different US gateway airportsFor pricing from the different gateways, airlines and flight numbers, call Jane Allison at 800-842-4842 or email her jane@select-intl.com.  Select International is very accommodating in helping you upgrade, if you wish to premium economy or business class based on availability.   If you don’t live near one of the gateway cities for which a group rate has been negotiated, Select International will be happy to help you arrange flights that will be convenient for you.

Q. What will our guides be like on this Tour of Italy?

A.  A tour of holy and historical places is only as good as your guide.   Many local guides leave much to be desired in terms of their knowledge, their ability to comment on the spiritual significance of a particular site for Christians, and their command of English.  Marcellino D’Ambrosio (aka “Dr. Italy”) has twin academic specialties make him an extraordinary guide to Italy—he is an expert in theology and Church history.  Furthermore, his commentary, however informative, is always understandable and spiritually uplifting.  He will be assisted by local guides as well.  We carefully look for local guides are knowledgeable but also spiritual.  Their English is very good and clear.  It has taken us years to identify Catholic guides of this caliber — of the thousands of local guides available for tours, these are the cream of the crop.

Q. Will this be a tour or a spiritual pilgrimage?

A.  Both.  We will have wonderful times of prayer, liturgy & music daily, with Mass in one of the holy places that we visit each day!   Each person who wishes will have the opportunity to serve as a lector in one of our special masses.  If you are a properly authorized extraordinary minister of the eucharist, there may be an opportunity to serve in that capacity as well.  But the information and insight you will get into the places we visit and the saints who lived and died there will be extraordinary.

Q. Who is arranging all the practicalities of the tour?

A.  Select International Tours is our US Tour company and are available Monday – Friday to assist you.  They are a Catholic company that tithes with a special concern to support the Christian community in the Holy Land.  We have a dedicated tour manager for our pilgrimages – Jane Allison jane@select-intl.com 800-842-4842.   On the ground in Italy, Select International will be assisted by an Italian company that knows the ins and outs of Italy.  Should any problem arise, we don’t need to call the States for help.  The local tour office will be in constant touch with us and will actually have a tour manager with us on the bus wherever we go.

Q. Can I take your Italy tour but arrange for my own air transportation? I’d like to use Frequent flyer miles.

A.  Absolutely.  The price for the land only package is listed on the itinerary pages for the Pilgrimage. But remember, you’ll have to arrange for your own transfers from airport (Florence) to hotel (Florence) and final hotel (Rome) to the airport (Rome Fiumicino).  Our tour company can help you with this.

Q. What is the weather like in the Italy during late May and early June?

A.  Days will probably be Spring-like temperatures and mostly sunny in Florence, Orvieto and Assisi.  Late Spring or early summer temperatures are possible in Rome.  Really, this time of year is the ideal time to go to Italy.  It is before the full heat of the summer sets in – it is pleasant to tour and flowers are blooming everywhere.  If you register for the tour, we will give you tips for what clothing to bring a month or so before departure.

Q. Is much walking required?

A.  A good amount of walking is made necessary by the fact that in Rome, for example, you can’t get large tour buses close to areas that we want to visit.  The tour, for example, of the Vatican Museum and Sistine chapel, one of the highlights of the pilgrimage, requires much walking.  We can’t accommodate passengers who need a wheelchair on this trip, and the trip would also be too much for those who need a walker.  For those who have a bit of difficulty walking and require a cane, the trip is possible.  It is challenging, but well worth it.

Q. Do you visit the famous excavations of the tomb of St. Peter under the Vatican?

A.  Yes, and this is not commonly done on group pilgrimages.  It is a very special experience and we work hard to arrange it.

Q. What sort of reading should we do to prepare for this trip?

A.  There are many great resources that would help you prepare yourself to get the most out of the trip.  One of the many lives of St.  Francis would be ideal, such as St. Francis of Assisi: A biography (Servant Books, 1979) by Omer Englebert.  St. Clare of Assisi: Light from the Cloister, by Bret Thoman (Tan Books, 2017), is recommended.  The famous move on Michelangelo, the Agony and the Ecstasy, can be obtained on DVD from Ignatius Press and is very worthwhile.  You can also read the historical novel by that name (by Irving Stone) on which the movie is based.  In terms of the art of the Italian Renaissance which we will see in Florence and Rome, there is an inexpensive illustrated guide by Boris von Brauchitsch called Renaissance: An Illustrated Historical Overview which is part of Barron’s Crash Course Series (Barrons, 2000).  Really, the resources on the Catholic saints and the art of Rome, Florence and Assisi is truly overwhelming.  So it all depends on how much time you have, what saints you feel drawn to, and what you are interested in.

Q. Will daily Mass and Confessions be available on this pilgrimage?

A. Yes! Our group will have Mass daily in some of the most special and moving places in Italy.  Since we will have a priest traveling with us, confession and the Sacrament of the Sick will also be available for our pilgrims.

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