Posted by: faithtravelfocus | May 12, 2011

Celebrate Italy’s 150th With A Christian Tour!

The gate to Hell on Orvieto's cathedral

Just think, the same year (1861)America launched its darkest and most fragmented period – the Civil War – across the pond Italy was putting herself together! 

Prior to unification,Italy was a collection of city-states, a mélange of cultural and political entities whose legacies still color Italian life. Some think modern Italy is far from unified, but her patchwork of cultures north, south, and sideways is what makes her so appealing to world travelers. Northern Italians couldn’t be more different from their cousins inFlorence,Naplesand elsewhere in the south. 

Where is there a more magnetic destination than the “Divine Coast” (the Amalfi) or the Tuscan countryside? Almost every dedicated world traveler eventually gets there. So maybe this 150th anniversary year is a good one to make your long-awaited call on the peninsula that resembles a boot! 

For the faith traveler,Italy offers a lode of stunning cathedrals, art, and church history to regard. This anniversary year is a good time to make your call!

 Most begin in the one and only eternal city, Rome. Its links with Christendom’s 2,000 years are formidable. Next to Bible lands on the easternMediterranean, it may be the most important Christian heritage site. Christianity took root there in the first century as St. Paul and others planted the faith in Jewish communities throughout Italy. Tradition says St. Peter was crucified in Rome. Emperor Constantine declared Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire in 324. Rome was indeed the center of the world in Jesus’ day, and it’s mentioned many times in the Books of Romans and Acts. 

St. Peter’ Basilica in Vatican City is perhaps the world’s most famous church. And of course, there also is The Vatican’s lode of art treasures like Michelangelo’s ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Other Rome must-sees are the Coliseum where Christians were put to death by despotic rulers, and the Roman Forum. Rome’s underground catacombs are where persecuted early Christian buried their dead.

These are some of the places to get a feel for what the world was like at the dawn of Christianity. 

The duomo atop The Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence is the crowning achievement of Brunelleschi and the symbol of the Florentine Renaissance period. It tops the cathedral that dates to the Middle Ages. Those who climb the 463 steps to the dome are rewarded with views of 15thcentury

David by Michelangelo

stained-glass windows that circle the dome’s inner drum and depict biblical scenes such as the Ascension. The lode of art inFlorence seems endless, but one piece almost everyone sees is Michelangelo’s marble state of David. 

As Italy’s third major tour city, the “Queen of the Adriatic,” Venice holds unmatched magnetism in its history, architecture and watery setting. Its centerpiece is St. Mark’s Basilica, which is not just a cathedral but a repository of art treasures that reflect Venice’s glory days in the 16th century.

Italy’s hill towns are among its most delectable stops, and Orvieto, a 45-minute train ride out of Rome is one of the most enthralling. Its San Brizio Chapel in The Cathedral of Orvieto has the Last Judgment fresco by Luca Signorelli that many believe was a model for Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel figures. The cathedral’s sculpted façade instructs observers about sin, judgment and salvation. 

Assisi is a couple of hours from Rome, and it was the hometown of St.Frances. The Basilica of St. Frances, the Santa Chiara Church, and the Saint Mary of Angels Church are part of that city’s tour circuit. Another side trip that many take is toPompeii, about three hours away. It’s a city frozen in time, from the day in 79 A.D. whenMount Vesuvius covered it in layers of volcanic ash.

Consider making this anniversary year your time to take a faith tour ofItaly. Scheduled tours are available from several operators, including Globus, Trafalgar, and Homeric.


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