Day 1: Depart USA
Overnight flight to Rome.
Day 2: Arrive Rome, Ostia Antica
We arrive at the Rome airport where we meet our tour manager. Those arriving this morning will enjoy a stop at the ruins of Ostia Antica, which provides an idea of life in classical times. You will also see the Ostian Gate, today called the Gate of St. Paul, before arriving at the hotel for check in and some relaxation time before dinner. (5 nights lodging in Rome)
Day 3: Vatican Museums, St. Peter's, Scala Santa, Abbey of Three Fountains, St. Paul Outside the Wall
After breakfast you will begin a full day of site seeing. First visit Vatican City where you will see the Basilica at St. Peter, the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican Museums with stunning works of art at every turn. After some free time for lunch, you will stop at The Abbey of the Three Fountains, the traditional site of Paul's martyrdom and the ancient street that he walked on. Next, visit the 4th century Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls, the site of Paul’s tomb, and the Scala Santa, where Martin Luther made his stand against the practice of indulgences. This fascinating museum houses the Steps from Pilot's Judgment Hall in Jerusalem brought to Rome by Helena, the mother of Constantine. Additional sights include the Arches of Constantine and Titus, Circus Maximus and the beautiful marble monument called the Wedding Cake.
Day 4: Pompeii
We depart Rome this morning and travel a little over two hours south to the world famous excavation of Pompeii. Pompeii is famous for the fantastic and ancient ruins uncovered from beneath volcanic ash, stone and mud evoke thoughts about life and death and how tenuous it all is. Buried just 6 years after the Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed, you can see cement casts of people as they were when they were buried, sometimes shielding themselves from the horror. Our guide will share amazing stories of this ancient civilization. We return to Rome late this afternoon.
Day 5: Forum, Mamertine, Coliseum, St. John di Lateran, Catacombs
We begin our walking tour at the ancient Roman Forum, where our guide will divulge its secrets. We will visit the Arch of Titus which commemorated the sack of Jerusalem by Titus in AD 70. We will view the Mamertine Prison exterior, where tradition says the Apostle Paul was imprisoned. The Roman church would say that Peter was imprisoned here as well, but there is no imperial evidence that Peter was ever in Rome. Next, we visit the Coliseum, where thousands of people and animals perished during gladiatorial games. The Coliseum first opened in AD 80 and within 100 days of its opening, 5000 wild beasts perished here. The slaughter of both humans and animals continued for three more centuries. Historians believe the Coliseum could hold between 40,000 and 80,000 people depending on how close the seating was. The floor has recently had a plank placed over the middle making it accessible for people to walk over the labyrinth of brick cells, ramps, and elevators used to transport animals and gladiators into the arena. Hear the stories of the games that have fascinated people for years. Next we visit St. John di Lateran, the first Christian church and baptistry established by Constantine. We conclude our day at the Catacombs where thousands of Christians were buried in a remarkable tiered series of galleries.
Day 6: Optional Florence, Michelangelo’s David
An early departure by train to Florence will be followed by a guided tour of one of the world’s greatest artistic capitals. The walking tour will include the Piazza della Signoria, Duomo, Baptistry and a visit to the Accademia Galley, home of Michelangelo’s David. Part of the afternoon is at your leisure to enjoy shopping, visiting more galleries or strolling on the famous Pont Vecchio, the old bridge which spans the Arno River. Remember that Florence leather shops are the best in the world and bargains on excellent quality goods are abundant. It may be the time to purchase those special Christmas gifts. We return to Rome for our last night.
Day 7: Arrive in Malta
Today we arrive in Malta and embark on our Journey to the lands of ancient treasures and Christian history, we will be walking where the Apostle Paul walked! We transfer to a lovely hotel for dinner and our lodging for the next four evenings.
Day 8: Valletta, Harbor Cruise, St. Thomas Bay
A full day of guided sightseeing includes 7,000 years of history beginning in the walled capital city of Valletta, a World Heritage site. Dotted with quaint cafés and shops, the city is today one of Malta’s main tourist attractions, hosting among others, the majestic St John’s Co-Cathedral, the imposing bastions and a treasure of priceless paintings. Enjoy the history told of the Knight’s of St. John of Jerusalem, a Crusader order who defended the westward Islamic campaign into Europe. Relax on your harbor cruise providing a stunning snapshot of Malta’s Grand Harbor, often described as the most beautiful in the Mediterranean. Drive to the ramparts where you begin a tour viewing some of the palatial inns and residences en route to St. Thomas Bay, a possible shipwreck site of the Apostle Paul.
Day 9: Mdina, Mosta Church, Dingli Cliffs, Rabat, St. Paul Bay, Catacombs
After breakfast, we have a full day excursion on Malta. The first stop will be a visit to St. Paul’s and the site of the shipwreck. Our tour will take you from the point of the shipwreck, along the route said to be taken by St. Paul where he preached, where he baptised the first Maltese at San Pawl Milqi Chapel (meaning "St. Paul welcomed"), to the place where he rested. Paul stayed for several months in the town of Rabat, here we will visit the St. Paul's Grotto, the actual place where the saint is known to have stayed. Next a visit to the “Mosta Rotunda” a magnificent domed church in Mosta. Enroute to Rabat, we will visit St. Paul’s Church and Grotto, a church founded in 1575 over the ancient caves where according to some traditions, the Apostle Paul was held captive. After a lunch break, we will walk through the streets of Mdina, Malta’s first capital where we will visit the Cathedral dedicated to St. Peter and St. Paul. Mdina is also located in the highest elevations of Malta where magnificent views of the entire island are possible. Concluding our sightseeing on the western shore, we view the spectacular Dingli Cliffs before turning toward our return route. The last stop of the day will be the Catacombs of St. Paul, a fascinating labyrinth of 3rd-century AD subterranean tombs and the earliest archaeological evidence of Christianity in Malta.
Day 10: Free Day, Optional Tour of Gozo
Today is free with many things to do and see. You may choose an optional day cruise/tour to Malta's sister island of Gozo. After a twenty-minute crossing, on setting foot in Gozo you will notice that although both islands are similar in history and development Gozo has a character entirely of its own. Gozo, which is a three-hilled island, is greener and more picturesque than Malta. During this excursion, you shall visit the Temples of Ggantija, The megalithic temples of the Maltese Islands are UNESCO World Heritage sites and justly claimed to be the most impressive monuments of European, dating from around 3600 to 3200 BC. Additional tour sights include the citadel in Victoria, the bay of Xlendi, and calypso's cave. Free time for shopping will also be given - Gozo is well known for its woolen goods and handmade lace.
Day 11: Arrive in Cyprus
Today we arrive in Larnica and embark on our Journey to the lands of ancient treasures
and Christian history, we will be walking where the apostles walked!
We transfer to a lovely ocean-front hotel for dinner and our lodging for the evening.
Day 12: Paphos, Roman Capital of Cyprus
All sites visited in Paphos today are included in the official UNESCO List of Cultural Heritage. Paphos was the Roman capital of Cyprus and it was there, after seeing God perform a miracle through Paul, that the Proconsul Sergius Paulus was converted to Christianity in 47 AD. Cyprus was the first area to be ruled by a Christian. Our first stop is at the Pillar of St. Paul where the Apostle was bound and flogged. It is surrounded by the remnants of an early Christian basilica constructed in the 4th Century. The tour proceeds to the colorful and evocative Roman mosaics depicting mythological scenes mostly from the 3rd Century AD. The tour continues to the Tomb of the Kings - an ancient necropolis carved out of solid rock and given this regal name because of its imposing character. These underground pillared atria and chambers served as refuge for Christians during early persecutions. The next stop is the Monastery of St Neophytos. In 1159 a monk by the name of Neophytos cut this hermitage in the rock with his own hand. The Neophytos Rock-Grotto contains fine frescoes from the 12th to 15th Century. En route back to Limassol there is a photostop at Petra Tou Romiou, a chunky, rugged rock that marks the legendary birthplace of Aphrodite, ancient Goddess of Love and Beauty. Cyprus was an important pilgrimage centre during Ancient times for the worship of this Goddess. We return to Limossol for dinner and the evening.
Day 13: Biblical Port of Salamis, Church of Cyprus, Lazarus
We begin our tour today with the city where Paul & Barnabas began their ministry in Cyprus, the port city that they sailed to from Jaffa. (Acts 13:5) Biblical Salamis was a maritime town on the eastern coast of Cyprus, situated at the end of a fertile plain between two mountains. Its fine harbor, its location, and fortifications made it the chief city of the island. When St. Paul landed at Salamis with Barnabas and met John Mark, there were several synagogues, and it was here that they began their witness to the island. Although the date, place, and circumstances of his death are, as yet, historically unverifiable, Christian tradition holds that Barnabas was martyred at Salamis in 61 AD. He is traditionally identified as the founder of the Cypriot Church. We visit the Roman ruins and the church and monastery where Varnavas, the founder of the church of Cyprus is buried. Continuing on to Larnaca, we visit the Panagia Angeloktisiti, the oldest known church in Cyprus dating back to the 6th century. Another stop will be made to view the traditional Tomb of Lazarus. Again, tradition says that Mary and Martha visited Lazarus in Larnaca. Free time will be allowed along the lovely Palm tree promenade before dinner.
Day 14: Home
This morning we transfer to the airport for our flight home.