Join the National Catholic Reporter readers and donors for a first-ever insider's tour of Rome and the Vatican.
Our schedule for the week offers a variety of activities for the whole group as well as times when we will tour in smaller groups, according to selections you have made. Along with experiencing the majestic sights and sounds of Rome, we will introduce you to some of the city's hidden treasures and provide you with an exclusive, behind the scenes look at the operations of the Vatican. Throughout the week, we will be joined by high ranking Vatican officials that are helping Pope Francis shape the church of the future. You'll also find opportunities to converse and share with your fellow travelers along with time for you to explore as you choose. We know it's important to set a reasonable pace with the physical activity of the tour. And of course, we will be joined by NCR's Vatican Correspondent, Christopher White, other NCR's writers and editors, and Rome and Vatican experts to help enlighten your experience in the Eternal City.
We are finalizing our schedule, but here is an overview of the days:
Monday, 17 April
Monday is a casual day to accommodate your arrival in Rome after a long flight to provide time for our bodies to make the time change. After checking in to our hotel, we will enjoy a prosecco toast on a terrace overlooking Rome and have lunch together on a balcony over Rome's Piazza Navona, hosted by Christopher White. For those who want to keep exploring, we will venture over to one of Rome's hidden treasures, the Chiostro del Bramante where you can visit the latest exhibition or simply enjoy a coffee at the cafe, which offers a birds eye view of a Caravaggio painting. The evening is yours to dine, unpack and rest. For those who would like, a recommended dinner option is available.
Tuesday, 18 April
After breakfast at our hotel, we will have a full morning at the Vatican. We will begin with the Sistine Chapel, and St. Peter's Basilica followed by a visit to Roman Curia office lunch together with Vatican officials. During the afternoon, you will be able to choose from a range of options and then we will meet up for a wonderful dinner together in the historical center of Rome at L'Eea Vive. The high-end restaurant is run by a Belgian community of consecrated lay women, who will also sing for us at the end of the evening.
Tuesday afternoon options:
- Holy Stairs and guided tour of St. John in Lateran
- St. Mary Major and St. Clemente Basilica
- Caravaggio art walk
Wednesday, 19 April
Wednesday morning, we will head to St. Peter's Square in anticipation of the Wednesday Papal audience, where you will hear directly from Pope Francis and receive a papal blessing. After the audience, we will take in the Angels Unawares sculpture placed in St. Peter's Square in 2019 to pay tribute to migrants and refugees. Lunch together will be followed by a guided walking tour of the Trastevere District, including a visit to the Community of Sant'Egidio (an international community close to the heart of Pope Francis), a necessary group gelato stop and Mass at the Basilica of St. Maria in Trastevere. In the evening, we will enjoy sunset cocktails together on the roof of Paolo VI overlooking St. Peter's Square and be joined with Vatican journalists. Dinner and the evening will be yours to enjoy as you choose. For those who would like, a recommended dinner option is available.
Thursday. 20 April
After the walking on Wednesday, we will slow the pace a bit on Thursday. We will take a 45-minute coach tour to nearby Castel Gandolfo, where we will visit the Apostolic Palace and gardens where popes have historically spent their summer vacations. Afterward, we will enjoy lunch together on a terrace overlooking the stunning Lake Albano. You will be invited to select one of three options for the afternoon. Dinner and the evening will be yours to enjoy as you choose. For those who would like, a recommended dinner option is available.
Thursday afternoon options:
- Scavi tour
- Jesuit district tour
- Catacombs tour
Friday 21 April
Friday morning we will begin with a tour of the Borghese Gallery at Villa Borghese. You will be free for lunch and shopping, then we will proceed together to San Anselmo on Rome's Aventine Hill. There we will be welcomed by Abbot Gregory Polan O.S.B., the Abbot Primate of the Order of Benedict. Abbot Gregory has invited us for a tour, then to join the monks for Vespers. We are delighted that Abbot Gregory will join us for a dinner together at a nearby restaurant before returning to our hotel.
Saturday, 22 April
Options, options, options! We will provide a list of day tours, including Assisi and Pompeii. Or, you may wish to spend the day in Rome shopping, visiting more sites, and perhaps toss a coin in Trevi Fountain.
Day excursion options:
- Pompeii Ruins
- Aqueduct Park
- Others available
Sunday, April 23
The day is yours! Go to Mass, see more of Rome, and prepare for Monday's departure. We will gather together for a farewell dinner on Sunday evening in the gardens of Cecilia Metella, off of Rome's Appian Way, feasting on great food and toasting our wonderful week together.
Monday, April 24
Breakfast at the hotel, then depart for the airport and flights home.
Our four-star hotel was selected because of the positive experiences of others, and its proximity to shops and restaurants, as well as the Vatican.
Breakfasts are included with the hotel.
Where the schedule indicates that we are "together" for a meal, the meal is included in the fee. Participants are responsible for meals designated in the schedule as "own your own." We have selected restaurants for their uniqueness and popularity.
Recommended dinner options: We have arranged to have dinner options available for those who would like to dine at a recommended restaurant during free time, perhaps in the company of other participants. You will be able to pre-register for these options or decide while on the tour; the cost of the dinner will be added to your registration fee.
After consultation with several people, we have decided that the best option for this trip is to price a "land only" price, meaning the flights are booked separately by participants. Some would like to use frequent flyer miles, others may wish to arrive earlier or stay later. For anyone who wishes, the travel company will assist with booking your flights, as well as extending your hotel stay.
Since the trip is not yet finalized, we aren't able to provide an exact fee, likely it will range from $4,000-$4,500. This price assumes two people to a hotel room. Individual hotel rooms increase the price by approximately $1,000. In addition to the meals mentioned above, the fee covers tips, English-speaking guides, headsets, and motor coaches.
Our registration form will be posted soon. If you would like to reserve a spot in the meantime, please contact: