Perhaps the best words to use in briefly describing the relationship to the Reformation of many of the sites you will be seeing in Italy are preparation and opposition.  For example, Milan is the place of Augustine's conversion in A.D. 386. Several doctrines of this church father were revived and given new meaning by the reformers. Many of the places you will see showcase the Italian Renaissance, which emphasized individual achievement and studies in classical literature, both factors in laying the foundation of the Reformation. The dazzling artistic achievements of Renaissance culture, however, hide the moral degradation of the institutional church exposed by the literature of Dante and the preaching of Savonarola. The epitome of opposition centers in Rome itself and the Vatican. Here the papacy launched its multi-faceted response to the Reformation, the devastating Counter-Reformation. 

Day 1: Milan
After a good night's rest in your Milan Hotel, you will begin your adventure in romantic Italy by visiting Santa Maria delle Grazie. This Gothic-style church, originally constructed in 1490, and its adjoining monastery reflect the glory of Renaissance Milan. In the monastery you will see frescos that Leonardo da Vinci was commissioned to paint by his patron Ludovico Sforza. The most famous is the ˙Last Supper˙ which graces the far wall of the Refectory. Next you will see the huge Sforza family fortress. Constructed in 1450, the Castelle Sforzesco is the site of a fascinating museum of Renaissance collections. In the afternoon you will tour Milan's tribute to five centuries of construction, the magnificent Duomo (Cathedral). From the roof terraces, you may enjoy an exhilarating view of Milan. Then it˙s on to the much older Church of Saint Ambrose, followed by a tour of La Scala, the world's most famous opera house. An evening opera excursion will be in the works if it can be arranged.

Day 2: Florence
This morning you will travel from Milan to Florence, the birthplace of the Renaissance, and stop first at the Galleria dell'Academia to view Michelangelo's incomparable "David." Close by is the Convent/Museum of St. Mark, a former Dominican monastery which contains important frescoes by Angelico and the cells of the fiery 15th century pre-reformer Savonarola, once prior of St. Mark's. This afternoon you will view the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore and the Baptistery featuring Ghiberti's bronze "Gates of Paradise." You will also see the Bell Tower and Dante's house. Of course, you will not miss crossing the first bridge built across the Arno, the famous Ponte Vecchio.

Day 3: Florence / Pisa
Today you will continue your interesting tour of Florence, birthplace of Da Vinci and burial place of Michelangelo. You will see where he is buried along with Galileo at the Santa Croce Church. You will also stroll the Piazza Signoria (site of Savonarola's execution) and the Piazzale Michelangelo. In the afternoon, you will travel toward the west coast of Italy to Pisa to observe that "crazy" Tower and site of the famous Council of Pisa (1409), an attempt to end the Great Schism of the Catholic papacy. To round out the day, make your way by motorcoach to Italy's capital, the "eternal city" of Rome. Here, at the final destination of the tour, you will spend two nights and two days.

Day 4: Rome
There are so many ancient and modern marvels to see in this grand city! In the morning, you will go directly to the site most people want to see first: the great Colosseum, the place of Roman entertainment at the expense of many Christian lives. Situated close by is the Arch of Constantine, commemorating his defeat of Maxentius at the famous battle of Milvian Bridge in A.D. 312. You will also see the remains of the hub of ancient Roman life, the Forum, including Trajan's market and column, the Arch of Septimus Severus, the first emperor to forbid conversion to Christianity, and the Mamertine prison, traditional site of Peter's imprisonment. The Catacombs invite you "underground" to observe the ancient burial place of Christians, and later, you will visit the 4th century Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls, the traditional site of Paul's tomb. Time permitting, you will be able to see optional sites of the Scala Sancta, Spanish Steps, the Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon, Piazza Venezia and the monument to Victor Emmanuel.

Day 5: Rome
Most of this last day in Rome will actually be taken up with "the city within the city" the Vatican, ancient site of the papal residence and stunning works of art at every turn. You will visit the Basilica of St. Peter, the Sistine Chapel, and the Vatican museums and various galleries. The final stop will be Castel Sant'Angelo, the great fortress guarding the Vatican. Leisure time is yours until the flight from Rome this evening. Have a pleasant return home!

Day 6: Homeward
A morning fight will bring us home by mid-afternoon.

Extension Price Per Person: $1150.00

Attention Group Leader! Pilgrim will customize this itinerary in any way that you wish. Ask one of our professional tour planners about specific country "8-12 day" church history tours of Switzerland, France, Scotland, Germany, or England.
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