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The beautiful hill-top town of Assisi, Umbria, Italy

Assisi - In The Footsteps of St Francis Back

  • Tour Code : TUR-00321
  • Type : Small Group
  • Duration : 12 days
  • Departs from : Rome Airport (FCO)
  • Meeting Place : Rome Airport (FCO)

Description

Our Spiritual Tours of Italy explore deeply into the life of Christianity’s most beloved saint, St Francis of Assisi, the Mystic of Miracles.

In the early 13th century, Francesco di Pietro di Bernardone, the son of a prosperous silk merchant, experienced a revelation that would change the world. Inspired by a sermon about a Christian teaching about devotion to poverty, St Francis began a spiritual life that would make him one of the most venerated religious figures in history. Our spiritual tours of Italy explore deeply into his life story.
 
Visiting the towns and villages that contain the stories of St. Francis of Assisi’s life offers spiritual tourists and seekers of all backgrounds a unique opportunity to explore an important piece of Italy’s history. From the story of St. Francis, we can trace the earliest roots of feminism and spiritual activism, leading, most recently, to the appointment of history’s first South American Pope. Our unique approach to tour creation will help lead us deeper along the mysterious path of the transformation of the soul.
 

Our spiritual tours of Italy will surely be life-changing!

Our approach to tour design takes us deep into how the mystical stories of St. Francis can be interpreted in modern life. Our visits to towns and villages throughout the Central Italian countryside will offer an in depth study in the life of this important historical figure.
 

A Deep Exploration into the Spiritual History and Legacy of St. Francis 

 

Medieval Luxury on a Pilgrim's Budget

Our home for 10 nights will be the Castello di Petrata, an ancient 14th century fortress nestled in the midst of gentle hills on a quiet and sunny plain. Just 6 km from Assisi, perched on a hilltop with a wide view over the Umbrian valley, the Castello offers luxury accommodations on a sprawling property perfect for meandering walks in the orchards and olive groves.

 

 

 

Our Spiritual Tours Offer A Shared Experience Through Transformation

Inspired by St. Francis’ teaching, our ambition is to create an experience that follows the archetypal process of personal growth and transformation. Our tour takes a non-denominational approach to spirituality, using the Franciscan journey as a starting point to explore the individual psychic experience. Stewarded expertly by Nina Hirlaender, an experienced group facilitator and Celtic Shaman, we aim for a nurturing exploration of our inner space.

 

 

Italy - In The Footsteps of St. Francis ~ Journey Itinerary

Our journey begins in the evening in Rome, after an afternoon of relaxation after air travel or an optional tour exploring ‘the eternal city’. We’ll discuss St. Francis’ life and perform a group introduction and intention setting ceremony before settling in for the evening.

pienza-countrysideFrom Rome, we’ll travel north towards the Umbrian hills, stopping in San Damiano to view the site of the vocation of Francis of Assisi, where the saint reported a vision of the crucified Jesus impelling Francis to “go repair my house, which is falling completely to ruin.” In the evening, we’ll settle into the Castello di Petrata, our home for the duration of our visit, where we will be welcomed by a private presentation from a Friar of Assisi, who will help bring context to our exploration.

Interior of St Francis BasilicaOver the next nine days, we will deepen our journey by exploring the mystical stories that still live in the surrounding medieval towns and villages. Our experience will follow Francis’ life, beginning with the village where he spent his early years; we’ll visit St. Rufino Cathedral, the family homes of St. Francis and St. Clare, and the Church of Santa Maria, a Roman temple which was dedicated to the goddess Minerva. Through visits to the Monastery of Santa Croce, the town of Gubbio – where Francis had a seminal encounter with “Brother Wolf” – and Lake Transimeno, we’ll come to understand the unique relationship that Francis developed with animals, earning him the title of patron saint of animals.

Near Assisi, we will walk through the forest on an 800 year old pilgrim route, arriving at the famous Basilica of St Francis to experience its daring architecture and sensational ceiling frescoes. “No more exquisite monument to the lord has been built,” wrote one 13th century explorer; we’ll wander the pews, immersing ourself in the experience. Visits to the small villages of Santa Maria di Rivotorto and the Hermitage of Carceri atop Mount Subasio will give us deeper insight into the landscapes that affected Francis’ philosophies.

St Francis Receiving the StigmataHaving gained a detailed understanding of Francis’ background, we’ll travel to Arezzo to visit the Piazza Grande, one of the most beautiful squares in all of Italy. We’ll pass the 16th century fountain and the Palace of the Lay Fraternity, built in Gothic Renaissance style, before winding through the narrow walkways to discover the beautiful Basilica of San Francesco, which boasts a series of powerful frescos. The church emanates a feeling of energy and power, certain to bring you deeper into our journey. From here, we’re ready to drive to La Verna to view the very special Procession of the Stigmata, exploring this hermitage and the surrounding forest.

We end our journey through Francis’ life by visiting the little church in Santa Maria degli Angeli, where St. Francis died. To this day, all Umbrian friars leave from here on all their missions, passing through the Porziuncola, the tiny church within the huge basilica, that proclaims above its portal that “this is the door to eternal life”. Returning back to Rome via the scenic road in the Spoleto Valley – the same path St. Francis followed 800 years earlier – we pass Foligno, Montefalco, Spoleto and Montefranco to reach the Rieti Valley, still as lush as in Francis’ time. We eat lunch in Greccio, where St. Francis created the first ever Nativity Scene on Christmas night in 1223 to educate the illiterate public. Back in Rome, we’ll celebrate our time together and send best wishes on our journey ahead.

Itinerary

 

Day 1 - Welcome to Rome - Arrival in Rome - Introductory talk about St. Francis

Where we visit : Rome
Meeting Location : Rome Airport (FCO)

Day 1 - Monday, May 12, 2014 Arrival Day ~ Meet at the hotel in Rome, Italy for an afternoon of relaxation after air travel or participate in an optional tour to explore ‘the eternal city’. A group intention setting ceremony and welcome introduction will lead us into the evening. A discussion about St. Francis, his life and our journey will conclude the first day.

Dinner and Overnight in Rome 

Meals : Dinner
 

Day 2 -

Where we visit :
Day 2 - Tuesday, May 13, 2014 San Damiano is among the most important and authentic sanctuaries of Franciscanism. It is the site of the vocation of Francis of Assisi, where the crucified Jesus on the 12th century byzantine cross spoke directly to Francis, saying these famous words, “Francis, go repair my house, which is falling completely to ruin.” San Damiano is also the site where St. Francis composed the “Canticle of the Creatures” it became the first convent of the Poor Clares, where St. Clare lived until her death. Take a comfortable minibus to our luxury accommodation destination; Castello di Petrata. A true oasis of peace, Petrata Castle is an ancient 14th century fortress and its annexed chapel, nestles in the midst of gentle hills on a quiet and sunny plain only 5 km from Assisi. Upon arrival, engage in a yoga class, meditation session or enjoy a walk in nature on the expansive property of this 5 Star private residence. A special, private presentation with a Friar of Assisi has been arranged for the evening!
Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
 

Day 3 -

Where we visit :
Day 3 - Wednesday, May 14, 2014 After an early morning meditation session, we take a short drive to Assisi and walk through the village where St. Francis spent his early years. We visit St. Rufino Cathedral, family homes of St. Francis and St. Clare, and the Church of Santa Maria, a Roman temple which was dedicated to the goddess Minerva. After lunch, we visit the square of Santa Maria Maggiore. It was in this crowded, public square that the young Francis, stripped off the very clothes he was wearing and gave them back to his father after being put on trial in front of the Bishop. We proceed to St. Clare Basilica where we see the original crucifix which spoke to St. Francis in the church of San Damiano and commanded him to go and rebuild Christ’s church. In the crypt of this church are the remains of St Clare. Optional yoga, meditation, free time and nature walk.
Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
 

Day 4 -

Where we visit :
Day 4 - Thursday, May 15, 2014 We begin our day with yoga and meditation before taking a short drive to the Monastery of Santa Croce. Here, passing pilgrims and sick people could find solace and medical assistance. The imposing enclosure that originally surrounded the building protected the sisters from dangers such as attacks by wolves, military sorties and banditry. We will engage in a special spiritual ceremony in the enchanting chapel of the monastery. We will walk in the forest on an 800 year old pilgrim route back to Assisi for lunch. In the afternoon, we visit The Basilica of St Francis, which is famous for it’s spirituality as much as for it’s architecture and paintings. This showcase of Italian Gothic art boasts frescoes of the greatest painters from the 13th and 14th centuries. The architecture is a daringly unusual structure envisioned by Brother Elias. The presence of St. Francis’s mortal remains emanate a unique spiritual attraction. Free time in Assisi to absorb the rich culture of this ancient city.
Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
 

Day 5 -

Where we visit :
Day 5 - Friday, May 16, 2014 In the morning, we have optional yoga, meditation, and nature walk. There can be no more beautiful road in Umbria then the one to Gubbio; up through the sunny valley, curving through fields, olive groves then down again through vineyards with neat rows - and finally we see the walled medieval city of Gubbio. A fearful wolf was terrorizing the Gubbians and their livestock when Frances arrived and ordered “Brother wolf” to stop his killing spree. We see a bronze statue of Francis with the wolf to commemorate the event which took place just nearby of the little church which was erected in 853. So powerful was the story of the wolf among early Franciscans that in 1213 the Bishop of Assisi persuaded the Benedictines to give Francis and his friars La Vittorina. This little church became a Franciscan monastery and is a stunningly beautiful site. After lunch, we spend some free time in Gubbio and then visit the Church of San Francesco to see the living quarters of St. Francis and learn of his many miracles.
Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
 

Day 6 -

Where we visit :
Day 6 - Saturday, May 17, 2014 Attend an optional yoga or meditation class before we visit peaceful Lake Trasimeno where St. Francis secretly spent 40 days and nights of Lent, fastening in prayer and solitude on Island Isola Maggiore. We celebrate our connection with nature and animals as we participate in a ceremony on the beach and learn about St. Francis’s animal communications during his 40 day fast. We have lunch in the old city of Cortona. The prevailing character of Cortona’s architecture is medieval with steep narrow streets situated on a hillside, embracing a view of the whole of the Valdichiana. We visit Le Celle; a beautiful Franciscan convent standing strong in the middle of nature beside a rushing mountain stream and waterfall. St. Francis spent the last months of his life here, where he wrote his testament in the isolated peace of nature.
Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
 

Day 7 -

Where we visit :
Day 7 - Sunday, May 18, 2014 Participate in an optional hike in nature, yoga or meditation class before we drive to Santa Maria di Rivotorto to visit the shed where Francis and his early Friars spent several years. There is a life size statue of Frances with a leper washing his rotting fingers. This is the place where his brother had a vision of the “chariot of fiery, marvelous splendor”. We will drive up Mount Subasio to the Hermitage of Carceri and enjoy a picnic in the place where Francis came to retreat. When he came here, this mountain was a desolate place with many caves that were used occasionally by hermits and criminals. The name Carceri means “prison” but Francis claims he found a wonderful treasure here- and we hope you find it too.
Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
 

Day 8 -

Where we visit :
Day 8 - Monday, May 19, 2014 Following meditation and yoga, we drive to Spoleto - Cattedrale di Santa Maria Assunta. This Cathedral displays the letter Frances wrote in his own hand to brother Leo. Spoleto is also the place where Frances turned around from his attempt to become a knight after a connection with the divine. On the way to Monteluco, we stop at the twelfth century Church of San Giuliano. On the way to the Sanctuary of Monteluco, we follow a path through a stand of giant ilex whose roots radiate above ground, some high enough to sit on, for at least thirty feet. The sanctuary is a quintessential Franciscan hermitage consisting of seven crude and tiny wooden cells that Frances built along the edge of the mountain next to a twelfth century chapel dedicated to St Catherine of Alexandria. It is easy to imagine him here, sleeping on the wooden plank that remains in one of the cells, looking out the small casement window to nothing but open sky.
Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
 

Day 9 -

Where we visit :
Day 9 - Tuesday, May 20, 2014 We begin the day with optional early morning meditation, yoga and a nature walk. In Arezzo, we visit Piazza Grande, one of the most beautiful squares in all Italy. It has been the centre of life in Arezzo since the 13th century. It’s charm comes from the irregularity of the plan and the audacity of the perspective. Walking across the square, passing the 16th century fountain and the Palace of the Lay Fraternity in Gothic Renaissance style brings you back in time. Through the winding, narrow walkways, we find the beautiful Basilica of San Francesco. A Renaissance shrine, this basilica boasts a series of powerful frescos. Inspired by the thirteenth century Golden Legend by Jacopo da Varagine, there are no words which can describe these beautiful paintings. The church emanates an unbelievable feeling of energy and power - it is like the walls, the frescos and the scenery brings you right into the heart of your spirit.
Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
 

Day 10 -

Where we visit :
Day 10 - Wednesday, May 21, 2014 After yoga, meditation or a walk in nature, we pack our picnic lunch and drive to La Verna to view the very special Procession of the Stigmata. St. Francis was the very first person to receive the miracle of the stigmata. We visit the place where he received the wounds of Christ for the first time. After lunch, we have free time to explore this hermitage and the surrounding forest.
Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
 

Day 11 -

Where we visit :
Day 11 - Thursday, May 22, 2014 We enjoy an optional morning yoga class and meditation session before driving to Santa Maria degli Angeli. The little church inside Santa Maria degli Angeli was the foundation of Francis’ Order. St. Francis died here. The friars left from here on all their missions - as they still do today in the Province of Umbria. The Porziuncola is the center feature. It is a tiny church within the huge basilica. Above its portal is written in Latin - “this is the door to eternal life”. There is certainly a mysterious, reverent silence in this tiny chapel. It had a profound effect on Simone Weil, a philosopher of Jewish extraction who recounts in her spiritual biography that “While I was alone in the little chapel, an incomparable miracle of purity, in which Frances had prayed so often, something which was stronger than myself forced me, for the first time in my life, to kneel”. As an option, you can take time to explore the St. Francis Museum, take the shuttle to the town of Assisi or relax in our accommodations at Castello di Petrata. We regroup in the evening for meditation.
Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
 

Day 12 -

Where we visit :
Day 12 - Friday, May 23, 2014 We enjoy the scenic route through the beautiful Spoleto Valley - the same path St. Francis followed over 800 years ago. The beauty of the country remains unchanged. We pass Foligno, Montefalco, Spoleto and Montefranco to the Rieti Valley. Surrounded by thick vegetation, the Sanctuary of Fonte Colombo is the cave where the saint wrote the final Rule. We find the log from the oak tree where Christ is said to have appeared. When St Francis first arrived here, there was only the Chapel of the Magdalena with the hermitage belonging to the Abbey of Farfa. We eat lunch in Greccio, where St. Francis created the first ever Nativity Scene on Christmas night in 1223 to celebrate Jesus’ birth and educate the public, most of whom could not read. Each year, there is a performance of the nativity scene on Christmas. Following our visit to Grecco, we drive back to Rome for a celebration dinner, and evening of joyous reflection of our journey together.
Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Map

 

Inclusions/Exclusions

Tour Highlights and What's Included

  1. All arrival and departure transfers
  2. All hotel taxes and service charges
  3. 12 Nights Accommodation in Luxury Villa
  4. 11 Dinners
  5. 3 Picnic Lunches
  6. Full time Journey Leaders, Tourist Guide and Driver
  7. 10 Yoga classes
  8. 21 Meditation sessions
  9. Breakfast & Lunch each day – special meal requirements available
  10. Dinner on first and last evening
  11. All entrance fees for stated tour sites
  12. All ground transportation for duration of the tour
  13. Return airport transfer for the group on departure day
  14. Gratuities for driver, hotel and restaurant staff
  15. A special, private presentation about St. Francis given by a Friar of Assisi
  16. Historic information for each site visited as well as the life of St. Francis

What's Not Included

  1. All Flights and airport taxes
  2. Meals not specified under inclusions
  3. Alcoholic and non- alcoholic beverages (including water, tea and coffee)
  4. Personal Items (such as but not limited to telephone calls, valet service, laundry, postage, etc.)
  5. Personal documentation and visas
  6. All transport costs outside of and not included in this itinerary All insurance, including personal liability, medical and/or baggage insurance, etc. All items not specified, mentioned or covered as part of this itinerary

Sites and Locations Visited on this Tour

Pricing & Availability

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