A Pilgrimage to The Glories of Byzantium in Sicily
Travelling to Italy, Led by Fr Kevin Moule, 17 - 22 September 2019
Scheduled flight on easyJet from London Luton to Palermo. On arrival, transfer by coach to the our accommodation in Palermo, where we check in for a 2 night stay. We advise purchasing something at the airport or close to the hotel for a quick bite for lunch. This afternoon we start our exploration of this fascinating city on foot, which lies in the spectacular positing by the sea and overlooked by Monte Pellegrino, which rises to a height of nearly 2,000 feet. Palermo was a relatively unimportant town until the Arab invasion in 831AD, which marked the start of a golden age, reaching its climax under the Norman king, Roger I. Although Palermo remained a centre for the various ruling houses, evidence of which can be seen in the many large houses (Palazzi) which line the streets of Palermo, the city fell into decline and areas of it still appear decrepit and rundown. The Quattro Canti linking the main arteries of the city is considered to be its centre and is a convenient place from which to visit the historic area. From here it is a short walk to the cathedral, which with its mixture of architectural styles sums up the jigsaw puzzle of Palermo’s past. Nearer to the Quattro Canti is the lovely area of the Piazza Pretoria with its impressive and elaborate 16th century fountain. From here you follow on into the next square, where in an exotic palm garden are two exquisite churches. La Martorana (which is its nickname taken from the name of the founder) was founded in 1143 and became home to the nuns who are now famous for having started the production of marzipan fruits, which are sold all over Sicily. Just next door to La Martorana is the church of San Cataldo, which is distinctive for its red cupolas and dates from the same period as La Martorana but is designed in a much purer, more severe, Romanesque style but still with obvious Arabic influences. We hope to celebrate Mass during the course of the day. Dinner will be included at our hotel on each night of our stay.
After breakfast we leave Palermo by coach to travel outside the city to Monte Pellegrino to visit the Sanctuary of Santa Rosalia, (the Patron Saint of Palermo) where we hope to celebrate Mass. Afterwards we continue on to Monreale, which was created by one man, King William II because this site was revealed to him in a dream by the Virgin Mary. The most impressive aspect of the building has to be the mosaic decorations, which cover over 6,340 metres, 2,000 more than in St. Mark’s in Venice! Adjoining the cathedral is the second wonder of Monreale, the cloister garden, which used to form part of the Benedictine complex. We return to Palermo in the late afternoon, where we hope to visit the Capella Palatina Sancti Petri Apostoli, before it closes at 5pm. This is one of the gems of Palermo.
This morning we drive along the coast to the lovely resort of Cefalu, which offers both a pleasant promenade by the beach and a fascinating medieval quarter. Roger II established a town down by the coast in the twelfth century with, at its centre, another magnificent cathedral, where we hope to celebrate Mass. It is said he had built in thanks for arriving safely after having been caught in a storm at sea. The striking feature of the interior is the mosaic in the apse of ‘Christ Pantocrator’, which, unusually for Byzantine art, features the human nature of Christ, looking out at the world with a compassionate and gentle expression. What remains of the once magnificent cloisters has recently been reopened and demonstrates much of the skill and mastery that you find in Monreale. Lunch is at choice. This afternoon we join our coach and transfer to our accommodation in Catania (approx 3 hours) where we will check in to the Hotel Sheraton Catania (or similar) for a 3 night stay. Dinner will be included at our hotel on each night of our stay.
After breakfast we drive to the Piazza Del Duomo,in the centre of the city. The highlight is the Cathedral of Saint Agatha,the patron Saint of Catania.It was built in the 11th century by the Norman King Roger. We hope to celebrate Mass here, after which we visit the nearby abbey church of Badia di Sant’Agata. There will be some time to browse, shop or have lunch in the Via Etnea ( yes,so-called because it affords a great view of Mt Etna!). This afternoon we drive approx. seven miles out of the city to the Sanctuary of the Madonna of Valverde, where we have the opportunity for private devotions before returning to Catania. Dinner this evening is at choice.
We drive to Syracuse, which rivalled Athens as the largest and most beautiful city in the Greek world. Syracuse claims to be the second church founded by St. Peter, after that of Antioch. It was here that St. Paul came to preach for the Christian communities whilst on his way to martyrdom in Rome. Visit the town of Ortygia, the Duomo, the Fonte Aretusa, the ancient well where Nelson watered his fleet before the battle of the Nile; The catacombs of St. Giovanni which show that Christianity flourished here in the 2nd century . Our final visit will be to the Sanctuary of the Madonna Del Lacrime with its amazing modern church. Mass will be celebrated during the course of the day. Return to Catania for the final evening of our pilgrimage.
We drive to Catania airport for the return flight to London Luton.
This tour involves a substantial amount of walking, some of which will be over irregular surfaces such as cobblestones and badly-maintained walking areas. If everyday walking is something you find difficult, this tour may be unsuitable for you.
This itinerary is a guide and subject to change.
Single room supplement: £140
17/09/19 - 22/09/19
Scheduled flights on easyJet: Luton to Palermo/ Catania–Luton. UK and Italy airport taxes. 23kg luggage per person. 5 nights accommodation in shared twin and single rooms with private facilities as follows: 17th - 19th September at Ibis Styles Palermo (or similar). 19th - 22nd September at Sheraton Catania (or similar), Catania. 5 Continental breakfasts, and 4 dinners. Excursions by air-conditioned coach and entrance fees as per the itinerary. Pax Travel Italian speaking tour manager to accompany the group whilst in Sicily. 4 half day guided tours (1 Palermo, 1 Monreale, 1 Catania, and 1 Siracusa). ATOL and ABTA financial protection. Religious services arranged on request.
Single room supplement at £140 per person for 5 nights (limited availability). Lunches, drinks and souvenirs. .Fuel surcharges if passed on by the airline. Transfers within the U.K. City tax in Palermo and Catania.
Terms of Payment:
Deposit of £250 (plus the insurance premium if the cover we offer is required) per person on booking with a completed booking form. Final payment due 10 weeks before the departure date.
The tour price of £899 is guaranteed until 23rd November 2018. Any further bookings may be subject to a flight surcharge.