Frequently Asked Questions – FAQs

Passports

Please make sure your have a valid, current United States Passport. Do not wait until the last minute to apply for a passport. click here to visit a government web site that may be helpful in this mater.

Internet and WIFI

Internet service and WiFi is available in most of the places you will visit. However, the service is often unstable and irregular. There are locations — usually associated with cafes — that provide internet service. The pilgrimage staff will provide direction to help in this area.

Typical Day
GENERAL PILGRIMAGE ITINERARY

The following is a generalized itinerary. You will receive a detailed, hourly itinerary with the Final Correspondence Packet, which will be sent approximately 4 weeks prior to your departure date.

Departure
Check your ticket receipt as soon as you receive it to make sure there are no errors. Plan to arrive at the airport at least 2-3 hours prior to your travel to check-in.

Arrival at your destination
After arriving at your destination, claim your baggage, pass through customs, and your Pilgrimage Staff will meet you. Due to possible heightened security, you may experience delays. Be patient and answer any questions addressed to you. A chartered bus will be waiting to transfer you to your lodge , unless you have been informed otherwise.

Rome
Each day there will be input and prayer. You will visit the places special to St. Francis and today’s Christians:

• St. Peter’s Basilica—The seat of Catholicism where a liturgy of praise is celebrated near the Tomb of Peter.
• St. John Lateran — The Cathedral Church of the Pope who is Bishop of Rome, and where St. Francis met the Pope.
• San Francesco a Ripa—This church is the only sanctuary in Rome dedicated to St. Francis, for he often stayed here on his visits to Rome.

An optional evening walking tour of Rome will acquaint you with many well-known places of interest. You will also have some free time to pursue your own interests such as visiting the Vatican Museum and the Sistine Chapel (if these are open) or doing some shopping. To get a flavor of the city, there will be opportunities to join with companion pilgrims and eat out on your own in local restaurants for a few meals.

Assisi
Each day there will be input and prayer. When you are in Assisi, the city of SS. Francis and Clare, some of the following will be explored:

· Chiesa Nuova This church is built on the place that claims to have been the home and birthplace of St. Francis.

· San Damiano It was here that St. Francis had his memorable experience with the San Damiano Crucifix and also composed the Canticle of the Creatures. St. Clare lived in the monastery for more than 40 years.

· Porziuncola This is where Franciscan Gospel living began and developed. Perhaps no other place has so many memories connected with the life or death of St. Francis and the early years of the brotherhood. In addition, here is where St. Clare was received into the order.

· Basilica of St. Francis At this magnificent Basilica you can view the story of St. Francis as it unfolds in the art of Giotto, Cimabue, Simone Martini, and Lorenzetti. Eucharist may be celebrated at, or near, the Tomb of St. Francis.

· Basilica of St. Clare At this Basilica, restored after being damaged by an earthquake in 1997, visit the Chapel of St. Agnes, the Tomb of St. Clare and the San Damiano Crucifix.

· Piazza del Comune This is the central gathering place of the city of Assisi.

· San Rufino Close to St. Clare’s paternal home, this church houses the font where SS. Francis and Clare were baptized. St. Francis preached here.

Greccio / Rieti Valley
Between Assisi and Rome you will pass through the Rieti Valley and Greccio, where St. Francis popularized the custom of the Christmas crib. A Christmas liturgy or prayer service will be celebrated, usually followed by a festive Christmas dinner.

Israel / Jordan (Holy Land Pilgrimages)
Each day there Eucharist, time for prayer and reflection and
input. As your journey as pilgrims, you relationship with Jesus through Scripture and spirituality of place will deepen each day. You will visit, experience and pray at all or some of these places:

Bethlehem Jericho
Calvary Mount of Beatitudes
Cana Mount of Olives
Capernaum Mount Tabor
Dead Sea Petra
Gethsemane River Jordan
Holy Sepulcher Western Wall

While there are so many books written on the Holy Land, we have selected “The Pilgrim’s New Guide to the Holy Land” by Steven Doyle (1999) as a viable and timeless text to support your reflection on the spirit and history of the holy places you will visit.

Hair Dryers

Will the hotels we stay in have hair dryers/irons for use or do travelers need to take them? 

CASA PAPA GIOVANNI IN ASSISI HAS HAIR DRYERS IN ROOMS.  IT IS A PROBLEM WITH CONVERTERS FOR HAIR DRYERS WITH FUSES BLOWING OUT.

Electricity Converter

Will the standard “Italy” converters work for small appliances in our hotels?

YES, BUT ONE NEEDS TO BE CAREFUL.  SOME AMERICAN CONVERTERS DO NOT WORK WELL.  CONVERTERS CHANGE FROM 220 VOLTAGE (ITALY) TO 110 VOLTAGE (USA) SO THAT AMERICAN APLLICANCES CAN WORK.  THERE ARE ADAPTERS – THESE ARE PLUGS THAT YOU PLUG YOUR TYPICAL AMERICAN PLUG –  TWO PRONGED PLUG  INTO SO THAT YOU CAN PLUG YOUR AMERICAN PLUG INTO THE ITALIAN PLUG (THICKER TWO PRONGED PLUGS) INTO THE SOCKET.  MOST ELECTRIC RAZORS ARE DUAL VOLTAGE AND YOU JUST NEED AN ADAPTER AND NOT A CONVERTER.  HAIR DRYERS ARE ANOTHER THING.  THEY COULD BE PROBLEMATIC.  YOU JUST HAVE TO BE CAREFUL.

Small Appliances

Do you need multiple Italian converters?  

ONLY THE 220/110 CONVERTERS CAN BE USED.  MOST TRAVEL STORES HAVE THE CONVERTER (USUALLY WITH AN ADAPTER AS WELL).

Do small appliances require a converter and an adapter? 

RAZORS, LATOPS, SOME RADIOS AND CLOCKS USE THE 220 VOLTAGE AND YOU JUST NEED THE ADAPTOR.  FOR OTHERS, YOU WOULD NEED BOTH A CONVERTER AND AN ADAPTOR.

Room Phones and Cell Phones

Do US cell phones work in Italy?  

THERE ARE SOME US CELL PHONES THAT WORK IN ITALY BUT THE ROAMING CHARGES ARE VERY HIGH.  YOUR PHONE MAY HAVE TO BE “UNLOCKED” SO IT WILL WORK IN A FOREIGN COUNTRY. CHECK WITH YOUR PHONE SERVICE PROVIDER AT LEAST TWO WEEKS BEFORE THE PILGRIMAGE. WE TEACH PEOPLE HOW TO USE PHONE CARDS THAT CAN BE USED TO MAKE CALLS TO THE US.  ALSO, ON YOUR SCHEDULE, THERE IS A PHONE NUMBER FOR ALL THE PLACES YOU WILL BE

Are there phones in rooms?  

IN ASSISI, THERE IS A PHONE IN THE ROOM BUT WE DON’T RECOMMEND USING THEM BECAUSE OF THE EXPENSE.

Private Bathrooms

Are there private bathrooms in the hotel rooms?  

Yes, all rooms come with their own bathroom.

Pick Pockets

What about Italian pickpockets — how do we keep things safe — what is suggested?  

THERE ARE PICKPOCKETS IN ANY LARGE CITY (MORE SO ROME THAN ASSISI).  BE CAREFUL, BE STREET SMART, ONLY CARRY A PHOTOCOPY OF YOUR PASSPORT AND ONLY ENOUGH MONEY YOU WILL NEED WHEN YOU ARE WALKING AROUND OR IN THE CITIES.  DON’T CARRY JEWELRY OR A LOT OF CREDIT CARDS ON YOU AS YOU WALK AROUND THE CITIES.  WHEN YOU GET TO YOUR ROOM, LOCK UP YOUR PASSPORT/AIRLINE TICKET (IF NOT ELECTRONIC), VALUABLES, IN A SUITCASE THAT CAN BE LOCKED.  THERE IS NO NEED TO TAKE ALONG EXPENSIVE JEWELRY.  THE MORE YOU TAKE WITH YOU ON THE STREETS, THE EASIER IT IS TO LOSE.

Hotel Security

What type of security are in the hotels we will be staying in at night? 

A few of our lodgings have a curfew at night that requires you to be in at a designated time. Exceptions can be made; ask your pilgrimage leader in case of necessity. Most locations also have security camera systems in place for common areas. Most rooms have small safes in them.

Health Emergencies and Personal Medications

If someone gets sick on our trip, do you have local contacts to help with doctor, hospital or dental needs?

YES, WE HAVE LOCAL CONTACTS FOR DOCTORS, DENTISTS AND HOSPITALS IN THE CITIES WE WILL VISIT.  PLEASE TAKE ENOUGH MEDICATION WITH YOU. ALSO, THERE IS ALWAYS A SLIGHT CHANCE THAT YOUR LUGGAGE MAY GET TEMPORARILY DELAYED, SO TAKE ENOUGH MEDICATION WITH YOU ON YOUR PERSON WHEN YOU BOARD THE PLANES.  MEDICAL CARE IN ITALY IS VERY SOPHISTICATED.

Money

Do you recommend use of traveler’s cheques, credit cards or ATMs as a Source of cash while traveling?  

ATMS ARE GOOD BUT MAKE SURE YOUR PIN WILL WORK IN FOREIGN ATM MACHINES.  TRAVELER CHECKS ARE OKAY.  WE WILL PROVIDE OPPORTUNITIES TO EXCHANGE DOLLARS AND TRAVELER CHECKS INTO EUROS.  MAKE SURE TO BRING ENOUGH MONEY FOR GIFTS, ETC.  CREDIT CARDS MAY NOT ALWAYS BE ACCEPTED ESPECIALLY IN PLACES WHERE YOU ARE LOOKING FOR SMALL GIFTS OR GELATO.

Participation

If someone is unable to make it to a specific site due to back, hip/knee, or breathing issues, what will we do? 

PLEASE TALK TO THE STAFF TO INFORM THEM OF THE SITUATION.  PEOPLE ARE EXPECTED TO BE HEALTHY ENOUGH TO DO THE WALKING, STAIRS, ETC.  BUT IF THERE IS A PROBLEM, LET THE STAFF KNOW AND THEY WILL DO WHAT THEY CAN.  WE EXPECT PEOPLE TO BE HEALTHY AND ABLE TO DO PILGRIMAGE.

Clothing

While we can anticipate packing for wearing “layers” in clothing, what is the coldest weather we need to anticipate — in other words, how heavy of a coat will be needed?  

THE WEATHER CAN BE VERY COLD, PARTICULARLY IN ASSISI (WHICH IS ON THE SIDE OF A MOUNTAIN) WHERE NONE OF THE CHURCHES ARE HEATED. I WOULD SUGGEST LAYERS, LONG SLEEVED SHIRTS, SWEATERS AND COATS. SCARVES AND GLOVES WOULD BE NECESSARY AS WELL, THOUGH TEMPS IN THE DAYTIME CAN BE MILD. NOT A BAD IDEA TO BRING ALONG AN UMBRELLA EITHER. OUR PROGRAM SPANS THE NEW YEAR AND WE USUALLY VISIT THE PIAZZA TO BRING IN THE NEW YEAR WITH THE LOCAL ASSISIANS; IT’S USUALLY QUITE COLD AT THAT HOUR OF THE NIGHT. ROME TEMPERATURES HAVE USUALLY BEEN WARMER, SOMETIMES INTO THE 60’S. SO, THE LAYERING PRINCIPLE IS MOST USEFUL HERE.

ATM Machines

Are there ATMs readily available in areas of Assisi and Rome that we will travel through?

YES, THERE WILL BE MANY ATMS IN ROME AND SOME IN ASSISI.

Bus Amenities

Will there be beverages for sale on the bus that we use for touring?

ON THE BUS TRIP TO ROME AND ASSISI, THERE WILL BE A TIME WHEN THE BUS WILL STOP FOR A BATHROOM BREAK AND PILGRIMS WILL HAVE A CHANCE TO GET SOME WATER, ETC.  OTHERWISE, THERE ARE NO SERVICES ON THE BUSES THEMSELVES.  YOU CAN ALWAYS BUY SOME WATER AND CARRY IT AROUND WITH YOU.

Tips

Do we need to plan to tip bus drivers, tour guides, hotel staff?

NO, ALL GRATUITIES ARE TAKEN CARE OF.  YOU WILL ONLY NEED MONEY FOR MEALS THAT ARE TAKEN ON FREE TIMES, FOR BATHROOM BREAKS, FOR SOUVENIRS AND PERSONAL ITEMS.

Restroom Tax

Do we need to accumulate small change for use in “restroom entry”, especially women’s bathrooms? 

YES, THERE IS USUALLY A COIN CHARGE FOR BATHROOM USE.  THE STAFF WILL EXPLAIN THIS.

Pilgrim Physical Fitness

How much of each day will we be walking?  If we can walk 5 miles a day before we go, is that sufficient “walking training?” 

5 MILES A DAY IS MORE THAN ENOUGH.  THERE WILL BE TIMES THAT TAXIS WILL BE USED, SOME TIME TO USE THE LOCAL BUS SERVICE.  THERE ARE STEPS TO CLIMB THOUGH AND SMALL HILLS.  IT IS NOT A MARATHON BUT IT IS CERTAINLY NOT GOOD FOR SOMEONE WHO HAS A HARD TIME WALKING.

Duty Free

What is the duty free limit for bringing souvenirs back to US. 

$800

Shoes

What type of shoes do you recommend for touring — tennis shoes or . . . 

SNEAKERS ARE NOT PRETTY BUT ARE PROBABLY THE MOST COMFORTABLE.  HIKING SHOES ALTHOUGH RATHER HEAVY ARE OKAY.

Language

Do the desk personnel in both our hotels speak English?  

IN ROME, THE PEOPLE AT THE FRONT DESK SPEAK ENGLISH.  IN ASSISI, IF THERE ARE ANY QUESTIONS, JUST ASK THE STAFF.

Extended Stay

Who will people work with if they want to have an extended stay, either before or after the pilgrimage? 

TALK TO SR. LINDA AT THE OFFICE IF YOU WANT TO EXTEND YOUR TRAVEL.  SHE WILL HELP YOU.

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