To be honest, I didn’t know what to expect when I planned The First Post-Pandemic Pilgrimage to Italy.
I didn’t know if people would sign up, they only had about four weeks to plan.
I didn’t know if Italy was ready, restrictions were easing, but group travel is a lot different than individual travel.
I didn’t know if I’d remember how to work, 15 months is a long vacation.
But it was amazing.
One sacristan teared up, one sacristan forgot how to deal with private group Masses, and one sacristan almost caught the altar on fire trying to set up.
Father Christopher traveled with me 11 years ago as Christopher the Pharmacist. He found a new vocation on that trip so we celebrated Mass at the tomb of the Patron Saint of Pharmacists, San Giovanni Leonardi.
As always, I included lots of meals at my favorite restaurants. The owners and staff at several places actually teared up having their first American group in over a year.
We ate at L’Isola della Pizza, da’ Fortunato, Trattoria Pallotta, Cecilia Metella, Polese, and Abruzzi. We also visited a winery and organic farm for lunch and had breakfast at Sant’Eustachio.
Aperitivo at La Zanzara
I included a traditional aperitivo at La Zanzara and filmed Tipsy Tuesday. Starting at 11 minutes in, I go around and speak to each person getting their experiences of the trip.
I was not expecting the hotel staff, drivers, restaurant workers, guides, and even sacristans to be so emotional. But it was a beautiful thing to see. It was so nice to bring my people to all my favorite places and to meet my Italian friends.
I was so happy my group was able to experience one of the final Papal Audiences in the San Damaso Courtyard. Most went to both Audiences – we were in Rome for two Wednesdays. And every single person who wanted to speak to the pope, had the opportunity. Each encounter was special, but I loved when one person told him “we are a group of Americans,” and he smiled and responded in English, “I know.”
When you are The First Post-Pandemic Pilgrimage to Italy, people notice. EWTN followed us around for several days. That story should air in the next week or so.
Who knew there would be nearly 500 days between my 140th and 141st pilgrimage? Even in normal times, this would have been one of the best groups ever, but given the circumstances, it was easily the most emotional ever. None of us asked for 15 months off, but I am so grateful I was able to continue to learn and grow during that time so that I could share even more of what I love with the people I love, all of you.
I’m repeating this itinerary several times over the next eight months. They’ve been selling out almost immediately, but keep checking here for availability.