The Pontifical North American College

Travel Information

It is the hope of the Diaconate Planning Committee that this resource will provide you with helpful information in the planning of your pilgrimage to Rome for the 2017 Diaconate Ordination. Please look over this document carefully and direct any questions you may have to the deacon candidate or the DPC Chairman, Vinhson Nguyen.

Deacon Scott Valentyn (Diocese of Green Bay) pauses for a photo with family and friends at the Altar of the Chair in St. Peter’s Basilica shortly after his ordination last year.

  1. Travel Planning Suggestions
  2. List of Travel Agencies (in no particular order)
  3. Sample Itinerary for Diaconate Week
  4. Popular Travel Websites
  5. Bus Companies in Rome
  6. Getting Around Rome
  7. Popular Sites in Rome
  8. Top Ten Churches to Visit in Rome

Travel Planning Suggestions

  • Using a travel agent for your stay in Rome/Italy is strongly suggested.
  • Deacon candidates – or a family member/friend – should negotiate the contract (itinerary and price) with the travel agent as soon as practical; the contract should include an offer of one free traveler for every 8 or 10 or 12 paying travelers. Candidates may decide to offer just a “land package” or a complete package include air and land.  The diaconate week schedule should be taken into account when planning the itinerary.
  • Deacon candidates should not plan to serve as “tour guides” for their guests during diaconate week. From the time of the candidates’ return from retreat on Saturday, September 23rd through the ordination on Thursday, September 28th candidates should be free to visit with family/friends, to accompany them for tour or meals, and to have time for personal prayer, community liturgies, and rehearsals for the ordination.  These are the most important days to have a travel agent – or to have tours pre-arranged – so that candidates are free and relaxed and rested and at peace as they approach ordination.
  • Travel agents should be advised not to contact the administration of the Pontifical North American College directly. All questions/queries regarding Masses, receptions, holy hours, tours, and tickets should go through the deacon candidate and the Diaconate Planning Committee Chairman.
  • Deacon candidates should be in contact with pastors or diocesan priests who may be planning a pilgrimage to the ordination. This does occur (sometime unbeknownst to the candidate).  Again, these priests and their travel agents should work through the deacon candidate and the Diaconate Planning Committeeregarding details of diaconate week.  All questions/queries regarding Masses, receptions, holy hours, tours, and tickets should go through the deacon candidate and the Diaconate Planning Committee.
  • NAC room guests:  Generally rooms – during diaconate week – are reserved for bishops and Vocation Directors.  Student guest rooms, on the student corridors, may be reserved for seminarian brothers, or male family members (brothers and fathers of candidates).  Also, priests, not Vocation Directors, who are directly involved with a candidates’ formation – pastor, former Vocation Director, etc. – may also stay in a student guest room.  The Casa Santa Maria is under renovation next summer and there may not be any space available in September 2017.

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List of Travel Agencies

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Sample Itinerary for Diaconate Week

  • Friday, September 22: Participants depart for Rome.
  • Saturday, September 23: Participants arrive in Rome. Assistance, including full-service baggage-handling assistance shall be provided for the Participants.  The Provider shall furnish transportation from Leonardo da Vinci Airport to the Participants’ respective Tour Hotels. The Provider must ensure that the Participants’ respective Tour Hotels are able to provide secure storage for the Participants’ baggage and personal effects until the Participants’ rooms are ready for occupancy. Participants who do not purchase air transportation through the Provider will be provided information for car service transportation from Leonardo da Vinci Airport. Following their arrival at Tour Hotels, the Participants shall receive a walking tour to St. Peter’s Square. Participants will be provided with a lunch near St. Peter’s Square. After lunch, a tour of Ancient Rome (Colosseum, Roman Forum, etc.) will be provided to Participants. Round trip Transportation will be provided for these tours.
  • Sunday, September 24: Participants will be provided with a buffet breakfast at Tour Hotels. Participants may attend the Angelus with the Holy Father. Transportation will be provided to St. Peter’s Square for the same. After the Participants have had a reasonable time for lunch, the Provider will provide Transportation to the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls for a guided tour. Thereafter, the Provider will provide round-trip Transportation to the Basilica of St. Mary Major for a guided tour. The Provider will provide round-trip Transportation in the evening for the Participants from the Tour Hotels to the College for Mass. After Mass and a reception at the College, the Participants shall be provided a dinner near or in their respective Tour Hotels.
  • Monday, September 25: Participants will be provided with a buffet breakfast at Tour Hotels. The Provider will arrange for St. Peter’s Basilica Scavi tours to be scheduled for the Participants with the Scavi office throughout the week, beginning today, with the exception of all-day Tuesday and Thursday morning. The College will provide tour guides for the Scavi tours, and also for the Participants’ tour of St Peter’s Basilica, which will also take place today.
  • Tuesday, September 26: Assisi Day Trip. Participants will be provided with a buffet breakfast at Tour Hotels before their day trip to Assisi (see clause 7 of Scope of Services). The tour of Assisi shall include round-trip Transportation from Tour Hotels to Assisi. The Provider will reserve time for morning Mass at the Basilica of San Francesco. The Basilica of Santa Chiara would be an acceptable substitute if the Basilica of San Francesco is not available.  The guided tour shall include but is not limited to:  the Basilica of San Francesco, the Basilica of Santa Chiara and Transportation to the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli and the Porziuncola. The Provider will provide lunch for the Participants. Participants shall arrive back in Rome no later than 8:30 P.M. The Provider will provide for dinner at or near the Tour Hotels.
  • Wednesday, September 27: Participants will be provided with a buffet breakfast at Tour Hotels. The Provider will provide Transportation to the Wednesday Morning General Audience with the Holy Father (tickets will be provided by the College). The Provider will offer afternoon excursion(s) and round-trip Transportation thereto. The Provider will provide Transportation for the Participants from the Tour Hotels to an evening prayer service at a Roman church to be designated by the College. The Provider will provide Transportation for the Participants from the designated church to restaurant(s) within Rome chosen by the College in coordination with the Provider. After dinner, Transportation for the Participants from the restaurant(s) to the Tour Hotels will be provided by the Provider.
  • Thursday, September 28: Participants will be provided with a buffet breakfast at Tour Hotels. In the morning, Transportation for the Participants from the Tour Hotels to St. Peter’s Basilica for the diaconate ordination ceremony will be provided by the Provider. After the ordination ceremony, Transportation will be provided for the Participants by the Provider from St. Peter’s Basilica to the College for a reception.  After the reception, Transportation for the Participants from the College to Tour Hotels will be provided by the Provider.
  • Friday, September 29: Participants will be provided with a buffet breakfast at Tour Hotels. The rest of the morning will be free for individual Masses of Thanksgiving.  In the afternoon a guided tour of the Vatican Museums with round-trip Transportation shall be provided by the Provider.
  • Saturday, September 30: Participants will be provided with a buffet breakfast at Tour Hotels. In the morning, the Provider will provide round-trip Transportation to, and guided tours of, the Basilica of St. John Lateran, the Holy Stairs and the Basilica of the Holy Cross in Jerusalem. The afternoon will be free for last-minute shopping. Round-trip Transportation in the evening shall be provided by the Provider for the Participants from the Tour Hotels to the College for a Mass and reception. The Provider shall then provide round-trip Transportation from the College to the restaurant Cecilia Metella for a closing dinner.
  • Sunday, October 1: Participants will be provided with a buffet breakfast at Tour Hotels. The Provider will provide Transportation for Participants to Leonardo da Vinci Airport, including full-service baggage-handling assistance. Participants will board departing flight to home city. Participants who do not purchase their air transportation through the Provider will be provided information for car service transportation to Leonardo da Vinci Airport.

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Popular Travel Websites

  • TripAdvisor
    • Good for checking reviews on restaurants and hotels.
  • Skyscanner
    • Good for finding flights.
  • Airbnb
    • For “vacation rental” as a hotel alternative.
  • Booking.com
    • For hotel and vacation rentals.
  • Expedia and KAYAK
    • For flights, hotels, and car rentals.

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Bus Companies in Rome

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Getting Around Rome

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Popular Sites in Rome

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Top Ten Churches to Visit in Rome

  • Peter’s Basilica (Piazza San Pietro)
    • The greatest church in Christendom. Too much to say and describe without writing at least a few paragraphs, but suffice to say that it is a masterpiece of architecture and under the iconic high altar rest the bones of the Prince of the Apostles.
  • John Lateran (Piazza di San Giovanni in Laterano, 4)
    • The official title of the church is Papal Archbasilica of the Most Holy Savior and Saints John the Baptist and the Evangelist in the Lateran, and such a chain of honorifics is justified for the Cathedral of Rome. Notable are its beautiful Cosmatesque floor, the high altar that contains the skulls of Saints Peter and Paul in twin reliquaries, and the connected Baptistery—the first in the world—and the Holy Stairs and Sancta Sanctorum, formerly part of the (now destroyed) Lateran Palace.
  • St. Paul Outside-the-Walls (Piazzale San Paolo, 1)
    • Originally founded by Constantine over the burial place of Saint Paul, its current form is the result of a nineteenth-century reconstruction that was necessary because of a catastrophic fire in 1823. Nevertheless, it retains the rather primitive character of a Roman basilica, with a grand central nave and unadorned columns. The mosaics that survived the fire date from the 400s.
  • St. Mary Major (Piazza del Esquilino, 34)
    • One of Rome’s five papal basilicas, Santa Maria Maggiore is the largest church dedicated to Mary in Rome, and houses an important relic under its high altar: the crib in which the Child Jesus rested in Bethlehem. A side chapel contains an icon beloved of the Roman people, “Salus Populi Romani.”
  • Santa Maria in Trastevere (Piazza di Santa Maria in Trastevere)
    • Santa Maria in Trastevere is one of Rome’s oldest churches and believed to be the first church in the world where Mass was publicly celebrated after the legalization of Christianity in 313 AD. It originally dates from the late third to the early fourth century but was rebuilt in the twelfth century. The church is famous for a Byzantine mosaic behind the altar and a number of medieval mosaics. The piazza has a beautiful octagonal fountain.
  • San Clemente (Via Labicana, 95)
    • San Clemente, near the Coliseum, is a perfect example of how history still exists in layers in Rome’s churches. The current twelfth century church features probably the most beautiful mosaic in Rome, and sits on top of a fourth century church built over a first century Christian meeting place that’s above a first century BC Mithraic temple and school.
  • Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri (Piazza della Repubblica)
    • This church was constructed (according to plans drawn up by Michelangelo) inside the ruins of the Baths of Diocletian. The layout is unique, in that the transept, which runs crosswise to the nave, is longer. It also houses a fascinating solar median that was formerly used to calculate the time in Renaissance to early modern Rome.
  • Sant’Agostino (Piazza di Sant’Agostino)
    • One of the first Roman churches built during the Renaissance, it holds the tomb of Saint Monica, Saint Augustine’s mother. There is also a very popular devotional statue inside, Nostra Signora del Parto, a devotion to Our Lady as protectress of pregnant women and mothers.
  • Sant’Ignazio (Via del Caravita, 8a)
    • Another example of the exuberant Baroque style that the Jesuits popularized throughout Europe, Sant’Ignazio is a worthy companion of the nearby Gesù. The bodies of Jesuit saints John Berchmans and Aloysius Gonzaga are entombed under side altars inside.
  • Santa Maria sopra Minerva (Piazza della Minerva, 42)
    • Santa Maria sopra Minerva is one of Rome’s only Gothic style churches. It was built in the thirteenth century over what was believed to have been the Temple of Minerva (actually the Temple of Isis). Inside is a sculpture by Michelangelo and the tombs of Saint Catherine, Fra Angelico, and some of the Medici popes. Outside is a Bernini sculpture of an elephant with an obelisk on its back.

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[This page was last modified on January 29, 2017.]

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