The Vatican Observatory Foundation presents:

A Journey to Rome
& Castel Gandolfo

Under the Leadership of Br. Guy Consolmagno, S.J.

8-Days: March 17 to 24, 2019

MARCH 17, DAY 1 (SUNDAY): ROME: ARRIVAL: Upon arrival in Rome from our own travel arrangements and check in to the Grand Hotel de la Minerve we find free time to explore our neighborhood that includes the Pantheon, Santa Maria sopra Minerva Church, Bernini’s elephant base for an Egyptian obelisk and….ice cream. In the early evening we meet for a short walk to celebrate Mass in the beautifully restored Rooms of Ignatius where the Saint lived and died. Then we gather to enjoy a Welcome Reception in a private room at the hotel, with Prosecco, wine and canapes. Dinner this evening is on our own. (R)

Fr. Angelo Secchi SJ

MARCH 18, DAY 2 (MONDAY): ROME / TRANSFER TO CASTEL GANDOLFO: After breakfast, we begin today with a half-day walking tour of the nearby Jesuit sites including: the Church of Sant’Ignazio, on whose roof Father Angelo Secchi once placed his astronomical instruments. After our visits we check out from the hotel, board our motor coach toward Castel Gandolfo. On the way we ride along the Appian Way and stop for a typical Roman lunch followed by visits to the ancient Tomb of Cecilia Metella and other archeological sites and meridians in the area that Fr. Secchi used to map Rome coordinates.

We continue to the Castelli Romani region for check-in to Hotel Castelvecchio, overlooking Lake Albano. We take a short walk to the Pontifical Gardens to take in the recently restored telescope used for the Carte du Ciel (Map of the Sky) project from 1887 – 1953. Weather permitting, we will observe the night sky with assistance from the Jesuit astronomers of the Vatican Observatory. Tonight we are on our own for dinner. (B, L)

MARCH 19, DAY 3 (TUESDAY): CASTEL GANDOLFO: MONTE PORZIO & SAN NILO: After breakfast at our hotel we board our motor coach for a visit to the town of Monte Porzio Catone to see a collection of instruments and artifacts used by Fr. Angelo Secchi housed at the Istituto Nazionale di Astrofisica. Our motor coach will then take us to see the nearby San Nilo Abbey consecrated in 1024 that includes a sundial by Fr. Secchi. We return to our hotel for the balance of the day at leisure. In the evening we will gather for a sumptuous dinner at Bucci Restaurant overlooking Lake Albano. (B, D)


MARCH 20, DAY 4 (WEDNESDAY): CASTEL GANDOLFO: PAPAL SUMMER VILLA/ LA SPECOLA / ALBANO: After breakfast we begin with tours in Castel Gandolfo of the Apostolic Palace and the formal gardens, Roman ruins, and farm, that make up the Papal Summer Residence. Our visit is followed by lunch with Vatican astronomers and a tour of the Vatican Observatory headquarters, including the library and meteorite collection.

Next, we visit Albano Laziale, and its 1st century BC villa of Roman Council Pompey, the Cisternone reservoir and the 3rd century AD Roman Amphitheater. After returning to our hotel, again depending on the weather, we may have a second opportunity to observe the skies with the “Carte du Ciel” telescope. Dinner this evening is on our own. (B, L)

MARCH 21, DAY 5 (THURSDAY): CASTEL GANDOLFO /MONTE MARIO / VATICAN: After breakfast and checkout, we head to Monte Mario, overlooking Rome to visit the Osservatorio Astronomico di Roma that contains an important collection of historical instruments many used by Fr. Secchi. We continue on to Borgo Pio, a charming medieval neighborhood, for lunch at a local restaurant just outside the walls of the Vatican. After a short walk to Porta Sant’Anna gate we enter Vatican City for our tour of the Tower of the Winds. The Tower, atop the Secret Archives, was built so the Jesuit scientists who reformed the calendar for Pope Gregory XIII in 1582 could perform the astronomical observations they needed to make their calculations. After our visit we meet our luggage and check in to our hotel, the Grand Hotel de la Minerve. Dinner this evening is on our own to explore the local dining scene. (B, L)

MARCH 22, DAY 6 (FRIDAY): ROME: JESUIT ROME & ST. JOHN LATERAN EXCAVATIONS: After breakfast at our hotel we will walk to visit one of the several nearby educational institutions of the Holy See entrusted to the Jesuits: the Biblical Institute or the Gregorian University. At noon we will transfer to the Basilica of St. John Lateran for a tour of the excavations and history of the Basilica. During the first imperial age various houses of high social rank were found here. Today, it is still possible to admire some of the paintings, mosaics and marbles. After lunch at a local restaurant we return to our hotel for the balance of the day at leisure. Dinner this evening is on our own. (B, L)

MARCH 23, DAY 7 (SATURDAY): ROME: LEISURE DAY & FAREWELL DINNER: After breakfast in the hotel we have a free day to explore, shop and enjoy the amazing venues Rome has to offer. In the evening we will gather for our Farewell Dinner. (B, D)

MARCH 24, DAY 8 (SUNDAY): DEPARTURES: Breakfast is at our hotel, and afterwards, we are each free to continue our journeys independently. For those persons needing assistance, our Catholic Travel Centre tour manager will be able to assist us in making airport transfer arrangements (for an additional cost). (B)

$7,500 Land Only Package Price – Based on double occupancy, gratuities included. $1,000 Single Supplement.

Once all VOF expenses have been paid if there are any outstanding funds they will be considered donations toward the work of the observatory and each participant will receive an official Vatican Observatory Foundation letter to that effect for tax purposes. The amount has been about $1,000 per person in the past.

If the tour is canceled by the VOF all payments will be refunded except for any fees levied by the Catholic Travel Centre as indicated in the Terms and Conditions Policy of the brochure.

Note that final payment must be made 90 days before the tour starts.

Application Form with Terms & Conditions, and Pricing (PDF): [Link]

For More Information Contact Group Coordinator: Ms. Katie Steinke. Tel: (805) 901-6591

Or use this form to email Katie: