“Behold, I bring you tidings of great joy!” (Luke 2:10)
Christmas is a wonderful time to be in Rome. The entire city seems to light up with a special joy, and there is even more peace throughout the city than usual. Little red and white lights flicker on kiosks set up in the lovely Piazza Navona, and the Vatican erects a larger-than-life manger scene in St. Peter’s Square, right next to the ancient obelisk at its center. Roman grandparents stroll with their grandchildren through the piazzas and streets of Rome to look at the nativity scenes and little displays of local hand crafted toys and other gifts. We will join them. People throughout Rome tend to be more courteous to one another “in the spirit of the season,” and the entire city can actually seem to become a small village. We, too, will become “Roman villagers” at Christmas.
Throughout Italy, every church constructs a presepio (or presepe) — a Nativity tableau which may even include “living” crèche scenes with real people and animals — ranging from charmingly simple to stunningly elaborate. Some include hills, trees, lakes, rivers, angels suspended by wires, the Christmas star and reproductions of an entire village or the countryside of Bethlehem. Always, the straw-filled manger remains empty until the night of Natale — the birth of Christ.
Christmas time is also a special time to visit Assisi. St. Francis of Assisi began the Christian tradition of the manger scene by creating the very first one, with live people and animals, in the nearby town of Greccio. In Assisi, a beautiful life-size manger scene is displayed each Christmas in front of St. Francis’ Basilica.
With more than 25 years of publishing Inside the Vatican magazine, we have colleagues and friends all over the world — and many of them have become part of our Pilgrimage family.
Designing an Inside the Vatican pilgrimage begins with a theme or a particular country; then we weave in encounters with real people who live and work there, as well as those with expert knowledge in its historical and spiritual perspectives. Our itineraries include both world-renowned and little-known places, and every detail has been arranged to create a truly unique experience; we do not have cookie-cutter pilgrimages!
Whether you choose one of our intimate-sized Signature Pilgrimages, or a Classic Pilgrimage with budget-friendly pricing, we work hard to ensure that every pilgrimage is a moving experience, an authentic spiritual journey for each pilgrim
Our aim on these Signature pilgrimages is to have your journey with us be a peaceful, enjoyable, unforgettable experience, one that enriches your life and deepens your faith. Although we will visit many very famous places of cultural and artistic significance, our journey is primarily a pilgrimage, not a tour. The spiritual dimension – the search for a deeper understanding of God and a better appreciation of the history and life of the Church – is central. This is why the pace of our pilgrimage will be slow and peaceful, not hurried. There will be time to reflect and to pray.
Christmas in Italy 2021 is one of our Signature line pilgrimages which aims to create “boutique” pilgrimage experiences through small, private groups averaging 10 pilgrims, but never more than 12.
Please note: we have scheduled plenty of free time to allow pilgrims to rest or explore the different cities we visit during this pilgrimage at their leisure. Each day we will have the opportunity to attend Mass. As a note, we prefer to schedule Mass in the morning, but there is a possibility that Mass times can fluctuate due to circumstances and Vatican events. The Mass schedule will be finalized as we approach the departure date.
Inside the Vatican Pilgrimages, Inside the Vatican, Inc., its employees, shareholders, officers and directors are collectively referred to herein as “ITVP.”
Household: ITVP defines household as those participants who dwell under the same roof and have the same address for at least 6 months per year.
Rates and Payments: Rates are based on applicable rates as of January 2019 and could change due to fluctuation in currency exchange rates or failure to have a minimum number of 15 passengers. If they change, we will invoice participants accordingly. Payment of the initial deposit for this trip indicates you have accepted these pricing terms and all terms specified in the Terms and Conditions.
Land Package: $5,675.00 per participant. Does not include airfare.
1st Payment: $500.00 non-refundable deposit – Due at time of booking.
2nd Payment: Balance due October 19, 2021, 60 days from departure.
Single Supplement fee: $500.00 for single occupancy room, if applicable. Due with 2nd payment.
Early Booking Discount: $200.00 discount – register by June 1, 2020.
Cash Discount: $175.00 Total amount of $5,500.00 per participant for payment in full made by cash or check.
Installment payment plans: if each payment is made by cash or check, the cash discount of $175.00 will be applied to final installment.
Reservations and Payment Schedule: A $500.00 per participant, non-refundable deposit is due at the time of booking. Balance is due 60 days prior to departure. If your reservation is received less than 60 days prior to departure, then full payment is due at the time of booking. Receipt of your non-refundable deposit shall act as your agreement to and understanding of these terms and conditions. Fax, internet, e-mail or phone reservations are welcome. The non-refundable deposit and/or payment in full must be received within 7 days of booking or reservation will cancel. A contract is made when your reservation and payment are accepted by ITVP and any dispute shall be governed by Virginia law.
Form of Payment: Bank/Certified Checks, Money Orders, ACH or Wire Transfers (please fax a copy of bank confirmation when wiring funds) are accepted forms of payment at any time. Personal checks are acceptable if received more than 30 days prior to departure date. You may also make Direct Credit Card Payments to ITVP (Discover, Visa and Master Card). Every reservation must be accompanied by a signed Registration Form. Returned checks will incur a $50.00 service fee. In case of computer or human billing error, we reserve the right to re-invoice participants with corrected billing.
Transfers: Two (2) group transfers to and from Rome's Fiumicino Airport (FCO) are included. Only participants whose flights arrive into FCO before noon on Saturday, December 18, 2021 and depart FCO no earlier than 10:00 a.m. on Monday, December 27, 2021 will be included in the group transfers. It is the responsibility of participant to notify ITVP of any flight delays. If the participant’s flight is delayed and this delay causes the participant to miss the scheduled group transfer, the cost and arrangement of transfer from the airport to the hotel or location of the tour bus becomes the participant’s responsibility. Individual transfers to and from the airport are not included in this package. Although ITVP can book an individual transfer to the airport upon request, the participant is financially responsible for that transfer.
Flight schedule: Land Package participants are responsible for purchasing their own tickets to arrive into Rome's Fiumicino airport (FCO) on Saturday, December 18, 2021 before 12:00 noon, and depart Fiumicino airport (FCO) on Monday, December 27, 2021 after 10:00 a.m. Should a participant encounter a flight delay/cancellation, it is the participant’s responsibility to notify ITVP.
Insurance: Travel insurance is not included in the Land Package; however, we strongly recommend that you consider purchasing it.
Travel Documents: All travel documents are the responsibility of the participant. A valid passport
is required for travel to Italy and must remain valid for at least 6 months after your departure date from Italy. For passport holders from countries other than the United States, you are responsible for determining the required travel documents. ITVP will not be responsible for any delays, damages and/or losses, including missed portions of the pilgrimage, due to improper travel documentation. Cancellations due to lack of appropriate documents will incur the usual penalties.
U.S. State Department & Other Agencies:
From time to time the U.S. State Department (www.state.gov) and the Center for Disease Control (www.cdc.gov) and other government agencies and departments issue travel advisories or warnings for one or more of the destinations that you may be visiting on tour. We encourage you to contact these agencies directly to obtain the most current information. ITVP cannot change the cancellation terms or conditions based on the issuance of any such warning or advisory or the occurrence of any terror, problems or ill health, or other incident in one or more of the places this tour is scheduled to visit. All cancellation penalties must remain in full force and effect as outlined on this form. Travel insurance may or may not cover these possible causes for cancellations.
Photography: Agents of ITVP may take photographs or videos of its trips and trip participants. Participants grant ITVP permission to do so and allow ITVP to use such photos and videos for promotional or commercial use without payment of any fees or royalties. These photos will be available on our photo website InsideTheVaticanPhotos.com following the pilgrimage. A code is required to download these photos from Inside the Vatican’s photo gallery. The code will be provided after the pilgrimage.
Private Rooms and Single Supplement: A limited number of single rooms is available at the single supplement rate. If the allotted number of single rooms is booked, any additional single rooms that we may be able to book, if available, incur a fee in addition to the Single Supplement fee.
Cancellations and Refunds: Cancellations must be received in writing in order for any refunds to be issued, and will be processed according to the date the written notice is received. Although a verbal cancellation is also appreciated, it will not be accepted as official notice. Please mail the cancellation notice to the address below. In the event of cancellation, monies will be refunded minus the cancellation fee. The cancellation fee will be calculated as follows:
• 60 days prior to departure: $500.00 per participant deposit
• 59 to 30 days prior to departure: $500 per participant deposit and 50% of total cost*
• 29 days or less prior to departure: 100% of total cost*
* Cost includes: Land Package and single supplement, if applicable.
If you purchase travel insurance, it may cover the amount remaining after refund, depending on the circumstances of the cancellation and the conditions of the policy. Check with your travel insurance provider, if applicable.
Mail cancellation notice to: Inside the Vatican Pilgrimages, 14 W Main Street, Front Royal, VA 22630 U.S.A. ATTN: Pilgrimages
Tour Cancellation by ITVP: On rare occasions a pilgrimage may have to be canceled due to lack of participation.
In such a case, ITVP’s sole responsibility is to provide a full refund. ITVP is not responsible and does not assume responsibility for any additional costs or any fees relating to the issuance and/or cancellation of air tickets or other arrangements not made through ITVP. Cancellations due to state advisories and/or state warnings, acts of war, war, terrorism, acts of God, natural disaster or any other circumstance outside the control of ITVP, are not the fault of ITVP. Great effort will be made to accommodate transfers to another trip or to revise the itinerary; however, cancellation for any of these reasons will not be eligible for a refund.
Room Service and Other Extraneous Charges: Room Service and extraneous charges not expressly listed as part of the Pilgrimage Package are not included. Should a participant request room service, or any other extraneous charge, including, but not limited to, mini bar, laundry services, internet charges or pay-per-view, the participant will be financially responsible for those charges to be paid at the time of check-out. If these charges are not paid at check-out, ITVP will bill the participant accordingly.
Luggage: Baggage is at owner’s risk throughout the tour.
Airfare: No airfare is included in the cost of this package. To obtain assistance purchasing airfare, please contact our office.
Gratuities: Gratuities are not included. The recommended daily gratuity per person is (3) euro for the escort, (2) euro for the driver and (1) euro for the tour guide.
Health Requirements: This pilgrimage requires significant walking. Any medical conditions or special equipment needs must be listed on the registration form. ITVP is not responsible for any medical condition that occurs prior to, during or after the pilgrimage.
Final Package: A final package containing documents, applicable airline ticket information, local contact information, a pilgrim book, and travel tips will be mailed to each participant approximately one (1) to two (2) weeks prior to departure. Upon receipt of your documents, you are responsible to check your itinerary, spelling of your name, dates, times and other important information to ensure their validity. Should your final documents have any errors, it is the participant’s responsibility to contact ITVP immediately. Documents, including tickets, are not guaranteed if final payment and booking forms are not received by the deadline.
Unused Services: There will be no refund for any unused portions of the pilgrimage. Refunds will not be made to participants who miss any part of the pilgrimage for any cause whatsoever.
Itinerary: Although ITVP and its agents and representatives will make every effort to adhere to the printed program and itinerary, on rare occasions it may be necessary to adjust arrangements due to unforeseen circumstances beyond our control (including, but not limited to, such circumstances as weather, acts of God, airline schedule change, hotel requisitions, political disturbances, or transportation mechanical problems). Should such adjustments be necessary, substitutions will be made to the best of our abilities. A refund will not be given. Any additional costs necessitated by such changes are the full responsibility of the participant. We do not guarantee preferred seating at events.
Printing Disclaimer: ITVP is not responsible for typographical or printing errors including errors in trip cost. We reserve the right to re-invoice or correct billing at any time.
Inside the Vatican Pilgrimages, Inside the Vatican, Inc., its employees, shareholders, officers and directors (collectively “ITVP”) does not own or operate any entity which is to or does provide goods or services for your trip, including, for example, lodging facilities, transportation companies, local ground operators, including, without limitation, various entities, which may utilize the ITVP name, guides, sightseeing companies, entertainment, food or drink service providers, equipment suppliers, etc. As a result, ITVP is not responsible for any negligent or willful act or failure to act of any person or entity it does not own or control. Without limitations ITVP is not liable for any direct, indirect, consequential, or incidental damage, injury, death, loss, accident, delay, inconvenience or irregularity of any kind which may be occasioned by reason of any act or omission beyond its control, including, without limitation any willfully or negligent act, failure to act, breach of contract or violation of local law or regulation of any third party such as a cruise line, airline, train, hotel, bus, taxi, van, local ground handler or guide, whether or not it uses the ITVP name, financial default or insolvency of any supplier which is to, or does supply any goods or services for this trip.
Similarly, ITVP is not responsible for any loss, injury, death or inconvenience due to delay or changes in schedule, overbooking of accommodation, default or any third party, attacks or bites by animals, insects or pests, injury or death while on activities sponsored by lodging facilities or by other third parties, sickness, the lack of appropriate medical care, evacuation to same, if necessary, weather, strikes, acts of God or government, acts of terrorism, or the threat thereof, force majeure, war, quarantine, epidemics, or the threat thereof, criminal activity or any other cause beyond its control. Should Dr. Robert Moynihan, Deborah Tomlinson or any other guest leader, be unable to participate in this event, reasonable efforts will be made to secure a substitute. Regardless of the participation of Dr. Robert Moynihan, Deborah Tomlinson or any other guest leader, the tour will proceed as scheduled on the dates listed. By signing this form to participate on this trip you agree that the terms of the cancellation penalty will be binding upon you regardless of whether Dr. Robert Moynihan, Deborah Tomlinson or any other guest leader is able to participate. ITVP is not responsible for any loss incurred by participant including lost days of the scheduled cruise/tour, due to a canceled flight or other means and modes of transportation. We will have daily Mass and strive to be in places as indicated. However, sometimes this is not possible as the site may not be available for Mass or itinerary changes are forced upon us. In this case, an alternative site for Mass will be arranged.
You arrive at Rome’s Fiumicino airport, about 10 miles outside of Rome to the west, near the Mediterranean Sea. You may have seen the sea as your plane circled to land. Our private driver will meet you immediately as you exit the secured area and drive you straight to the Casa Bonus Pastor, right next to the highest spot of the Vatican City wall (just on the other side of the wall is where Pope Emeritus Benedict lives in the Vatican Gardens). The building, a converted Roman palace, is shaded by tall pine trees. It is an oasis of peace in the sometimes noisy modern city of Rome.
Robert and Deborah will greet you upon your arrival at the Casa Bonus Pastor. After a brief rest we will share our first lunch in the dining room, then meet to begin our Advent retreat. Afterwards, we will visit St. Peter’s Basilica for Mass.
In St. Peter’s Basilica, we will consecrate our time together to the Virgin Mary through a prayer at a little-known altar to Mary, Mother of the Church. The sacrament of Confession will be available in St. Peter’s Basilica with priests who speak many languages, including English. Mass at the Altar of the Chair at 5 p.m. will follow. We will share our first dinner in one of our favorite restaurants near the Vatican. You will come to know the owner and become part of “la famiglia” (“the family”)!