September 5th - Arrive Naples
We will depart in the morning from Dublin to Naples. In the arrivals hall we will be greeted by our Marian Pilgrim-ages guide and driver who will remain with us for the duration of our pilgrimage. The beauty of the countryside will make for an enjoyable drive towards the town of Pietrelcina, birthplace of Padre Pio.
During a walking tour of the town of Pietrelcina, we will learn of the early life of Francesco Forgione with a visit to his family home and the Church of Sant’ Anna where he was baptised. We will celebrate the opening Mass of our pilgrimage in the Church of the Holy Family and later visit the museum where precious items have been pre-served dating back to Padre Pio’s early years in Pietrelcina.
We will drive the short distance to Piana Romana and have time for prayer before the tree beneath which Padre Pio received the first signs of the stigmata.
We will enjoy views of the contrasting landscapes as we drive to our destination of San Giovanni Rotondo, home to Padre Pio for over fifty years. After checking into the Hotel Centro di Spiritiualitá, we will have dinner and afterwards time to relax and unpack.
September 6th – English Office, Guided tour of the Capuchin friary & Church of St. Pio of Pietrelcina
This morning we will celebrate Mass in the ancient Church of Our Lady of Grace where Padre Pio spent many hours each day hearing confessions and afterwards in the English Office will receive a blessing with the glove and crucifix used by the capuchin friar.
After lunch, we will walk in the footsteps of Padre Pio during his time in San Giovanni Rotondo. Visiting the capuchin friary will allow us to learn more about the “poor friar who prays” as he often described himself. Here we will have the opportunity to see the cell once occupied by the humble friar and the crucifix before which he received the stigmata. Our day will conclude with a visit to the Church of St. Pio of Pietrelcina where we will have time for private prayer before the mortal remains of the great saint of our time.
September 7th – Shrine of St. Michael the Archangel, St. Matthew’s monastery & Way of the Cross
Padre Pio had a great devotion to St. Michael the Archangel. This morning we will drive to the nearby Shrine of St. Michael the Archangel in the town of Monte Sant’Angelo. We will celebrate Mass in the sacred cave and afterwards have time to stroll through the cobbled streets of this unique town with its quaint, white-washed houses. Before returning to San Giovanni Rotondo we will visit St. Matthew’s monastery and receive a blessing with the relic of St. Matthew and holy oil.
Walking the Way of the Cross in the afternoon will allow us as Christians, to pause and enter reflectively into those last moments of Jesus’s journey of love. We will have the remainder of the afternoon at leisure for confessions and to return to the crypt of St. Pio.
September 8th – Cathedral of Trani & Castel del Monte
After breakfast we will depart San Giovanni Rotondo as we begin our trip through the region of Puglia, experiencing some of the traditions of this picturesque and unique part of southern Italy. Our first stop will be the historical town of Trani, located on the Adriatic Coast. Dominating the seashore from a spectacular position at the water’s edge, we will visit the 12th century cathedral dedicated to St. Nicholas the Pilgrim. In the splendid cathedral, we will celebrate Mass and afterwards have time at leisure for lunch.
Castel del Monte rises on a rocky hill dominating the surrounding countryside near the Adriatic Sea. A unique piece of medieval architecture, the castle’s location, its perfect octagonal shape, as well as the mathematical and astronomical precision of its layout all reflect the broad education and cultural vision of its founder, Emperor Frederick II. So unique, it came as no surprise when UNESCO included Castel del Monte on their World Heritage list in 1996. We will enjoy a guided tour of this wonderful structure, steeped in history before continuing our drive to the town of Martina Franca, where we will stay in the Park Hotel San Michele for the next four nights.
September 9th – Martina Franca
After morning Mass in the Basilica of San Martino, we will enjoy a day at leisure to explore the town of Martina Franca, with its characteristic white houses that wind their way up the small, twisting streets. Why not visit the wonderful Ducal Palace or simply relax by the pool!
September 10th – Lecce & Brindisi
Today we will visit the town of Lecce, often referred to as the ‘Florence of the south.’ With its dazzling architectural surprises around every corner, Lecce is a minor Baroque masterpiece. Our guided tour will include a visit to the Basilica of Santa Croce which boasts one of the finest and most intricate Baroque facades in Italy. Afterwards we will have time at leisure for lunch in one of the many elegant cafes and restaurants which line the streets of this unique town.
Our next stop today is the town of Brindisi. In Roman times the town of Brindisi was held with great esteem for its position at the end of the Appian Way, built to facilitate the movement of goods and troops between the centre of the empire and the east Mediterranean. The port of Brindisi became a departure point for the Crusades and would be chosen by Emperor Frederick II in 1228 as his port of departure for the successful Sixth Crusade, during which he reclaimed Jerusalem for the Christian world. A guided tour will help us understand the importance of this town through the centuries. After our guided tour and some time to enjoy a stroll along the promenade, we will return to our hotel for dinner.
September, 11th – Locorotondo
Perched on a hill, this morning we will visit the town of Locorotondo. Accompanied by our guide, we will enjoy the beauty of the historic centre with its labyrinth of white alleys. A simply delightful place it will become clear why Lo-corotondo is listed as one of the most beautiful villages in Italy. After our morning tour we will have time to relax and enjoy a typical Italian Sunday lunch before returning to Martina Franca.
September, 12th – Alberobello & Basilica of St. Nicholas of Bari
This morning we will check out of our hotel and drive to Alberobello, the ‘Capital of the Trulli.’ Alberobello, the UNESCO World Heritage Site, is lined with Trulli famous for their conical roofs made without mortar, white-tipped as if dusted by snow. We will enjoy a morning tour of this unique town and have time for private sight-seeing and lunch.
We could not leave the stunning region of Puglia without a visit to the Basilica of St. Nicholas of Bari, one of the first Norman churches to be built in southern Italy. Dating back to the 12th century, it was originally constructed to house the relics of St Nicholas (better known as Father Christmas), which were stolen from Turkey in 1087 by local fishing folk. St Nicholas' remains, which are said to emanate a miraculous manna liquid with special powers, are en-sconced in a shrine in the beautiful, vaulted crypt. We will celebrate the closing Mass of our pilgrimage and after a tour of this wonderful basilica will drive to Bari airport as we return to our homes with a sense of tranquillity, joy, and many happy memories.
*It is our intention to follow the itinerary as outlined above, however due to many factors like local holidays, traffic or weather conditions it may be necessary to make changes to the order of events or even the cancelation of certain events.