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Advent in Rome

In association with The Tablet

With all the baroque churches, nativity scenes, the highest Christmas tree contest and luxury (decorated) shops, Rome belongs to Christmas. Yet, the city still reminds of the reason for the season with less kitsch and more tradition. Join us for six days in the heart of Classical Rome, just a short 500 metre stroll from St. Peters Square and 25 minutes to the Trevi Fountain to explore its famous as well as local kept secret churches and be surrounded by festive settings of colorful lights, beautifully spruced-up trees, and cheerful carols. The best Christmas markets in Rome are a triumph of artisan products, regional foods, intoxicating scents, fashion clothes, and toys.

Our guide will take you through the streets of 'The Eternal City' from a guided tour of St. Peters, with its sculptures by Michelangelo, through the Medieval Quarter to the magnificent Piazza Navona and the outrageously large and ornate Trevi Fountain. Enjoy tours of the ancient Roman road the Via Appia to the Catacombs of Domatilla and the stunning basilicas of Saint Mary Major (Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore), a Major papal basilica as well as one of the Seven Pilgrim Churches of Rome and the largest Catholic Marian church in Italy. Also, visit the huge and opulent Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls, Rome’s second-largest church after St. Peter’s in the Vatican. Even though one of the most beautiful churches in Rome and boasts a long history, it’s much less visited than it would deserve so an intimate experience.


  1. Travel to Rome – St. Peters Square (D, DR)

    Morning: meet your fellow group and Tour Leader and check-in for your direct flight to Rome. On arrival meet your local Tour Manager and check-in at your hotel for a five-night stay. Time permitting, and as you will be situated just a stroll from the Vatican City and St. Peter's Square join together for a walk to see the magnificent Christmas tree in St. Peters Square just 400 metres from your hotel and take in the atmosphere of being in Rome at this special time.

    Evening: welcome drinks get-together followed by three-course dinner your hotel. A nice opportunity to get to know your fellow travellers.

    Key to symbols: B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner, DR = Drink

  2. St. Peters Basilica, the Vatican City – Riverbank Christmas market (B, D)

    Morning: a guided tour of St. Peter's Basilica. Consecrated in 1626 several renowned architects designed the temple, highlighting the works of Bramante, Michelangelo and Carlo Maderno. Study extremely impressive pieces of art, including St. Peter’s Baldachin, a large bronze baldachin designed by Bernini, The Pietà, a sculpture by Michelangelo and the statue of St Peter on his throne. St. Peter has his right foot worn down due to the touches of the devoted. You will also see the tombs of several popes including John Paul II.

    Afternoon: free time to visit the Christmas Market along the river at Lungotevere dedicated to Arnaldo da Brescia, the excommunicated monk hanged for heresy in 1155. The riverbanks of the Tiber transform into a Christmas village with anything from handmade crafts to food.

    Evening: enjoy an included dinner in an atmospheric local restaurant.

    Key to symbols: B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, AT = Afternoon Tea, D = Dinner, DR = Drink 

  3. Secret churches of Rome – Campo dei Fiori Christmas street party (B, L, D)

    Morning: travel by coach to the Basilica of Santa Maria in Ara Coeli and see the statue of the Santo Bambine, which was carved from a piece of olive wood from the garden of Gethsemane. Continue to visit the Church of St. Cosma and St. Damiano, one of Rome’s better kept secrets. The ornate high altar (1637), which partly obscures the mosaics, was designed by Domenico Castelli (1582-1657); the image of the Virgin and Child dates back to the 13th century. Santi Cosma e Damiano was originally entered from the Forum, which we can see through the large plate glass window at the back of the church.

    Afternoon: we include lunch in Rome’s Jewish ghetto Campo dei Fiori followed by a walking tour. Here you will attend the big Hanukkah street party and see the large menorah erected in the Piazza Barberini. There is often dancing and music and a truly wonderful atmosphere.

    Evening: relax and enjoy your included dinner in the hotel.

    Key to symbols: B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, AT = Afternoon Tea, D = Dinner, DR = Drink 

  4. The Appian Way, Catacombs of Domatilla and Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls (B, D)

    Morning: drive part of the Via Appa Antica, one of the most famous ancient roads. It was built in 312 B.C. by Appius Claudius Caecus. In its entirety it spanned 350 miles(563kms) stretching from the Roman Forum to modern day Brindisi. Large stones made up the bulk of its construction. It allowed trade and access to the east, specifically Greece and is the route Peter and Paul would have taken to enter Rome. Then visit The Catacombs of Domitilla, the underground cemetery developed between the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD. a semi-underground basilica built at the end of the fourth century during the pontificate of Pope Damasus.

    Afternoon: after time for lunch (at own cost) drive back to Rome passing the Church of Domine Quo Vadis to the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls, marking the spot where Paul was buried. Finally, visit one of the earliest churches in Rome Santa Maria in Trastavere. Found in the third century and located on the beautiful piazza in the famous Trastevere district, the church contains 12th-century mosaics.

    Evening: included dinner in the hotel.

    Key to symbols: B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, AT = Afternoon Tea, D = Dinner, DR = Drink 

  5. Classical Rome and Piazza Navona Christmas Market (B, L, D, DR)

    Morning: we enjoy a guided visit of The Basilica of Saint Mary Major (Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore), a Major papal basilica as well as one of the Seven Pilgrim Churches of Rome and the largest Catholic Marian church in Italy. From here we stroll down to the Coliseum set beside the Palatine Hill, the Via Sacra, the Roman Forum and the Arch of Titus. This was at the heart of the Roman Empire.

    Afternoon: after an included lunch we continue the walking tour in the Mediaeval Quarter to explore sites such as the magnificent Piazza Navona, built on the site where the Stadium of Domitian (86 AD) once stood, with its three ornate fountains. Also see the Pantheon, the best-preserved ancient building in the city, this former Roman temple is a marvel of architectural harmony and proportion. It was entirely rebuilt by the emperor Hadrian around AD 120. Enjoy free time in Rome’s most beautiful Christmas market.

    Evening: farewell drinks gathering followed by dinner in a local restaurant.

    Key to symbols: B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, AT = Afternoon Tea, D = Dinner, DR = Drink 

  6. Depart for the UK (B)

    A final morning to stroll Rome and St. Peters Square before the journey to the airport for your flight home after a wonderful Advent experience in Rome.

    Key to symbols: B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, AT = Afternoon Tea, D = Dinner, DR = Drink 

Essential Information

Included excursions

  • Guided tour of St Peter's Basilica and the Vatican
  • Guided tour of the Medieval Quarter with Piazza Navona, Pantheon and the Trevi Fountain
  • Travel the Appian Way
  • Guided tour of the Catacombs of Domatilla
  • Guided tour of the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls
  • Guided tour of the Basilicas di Santa Maria Maggiore
  • Visit the secret churches of Rome
  • Christmas market in Campo dei Fiori and Jewish Quarter street party
  • Christmas market on the banks of the river
  • Christmas market in the Piazza Navona

Optional excursions

None! – all excursions and extras as listed above and below are included!

Included extras

  • Hotel porterage
  • Personal audio guiding system
  • Qualified local guide/Tour Manager
  • All entrance fees
  • All hotel and restaurant gratuities
  • All Local Guide and coach driver gratuities

Included meals & drinks

Meals: a full buffet breakfast each morning, two lunches and all evening meals. Three dinners are in the hotel, both lunches and two dinners are in atmospheric local restaurants with the dinners being just a short walk from your hotel.

Drinks: welcome and farewell drinks. Water and tea or coffee with all evening meals and both lunches. All other drinks are at your own expense.

Our team in Italy

Our dedicated McCabe Tour Manager is there solely for our guests. They will escort all excursions and be available in the hotel for any queries and offer local advice, hints and tips for you to get maximum enjoyment of your time with us. Also, this tour will be accompanied by a dedicated faith leader.

Your journey

The flight is direct to Rome with British Airways from London Heathrow. Flight upgrades, for that extra comfort and ease through the airport, as well as regional connecting flights from some UK airports can be arranged at a supplement. An overnight stop at Heathrow may be required which we can assist you with. Please enquire at time of booking.

Outbound journey

Flight BA0554 departs Heathrow: 08:55           Arrives Rome 12:40

Return journey

Flight BA0559 departs Rome: 17:15                 Arrives Heathrow: 19:00

Length of flight to Rome: two hours and 40 minutes

Flight times maybe subject to change and are confirmed with your final paperwork.

Your accommodation

Five nights in a four-star hotel in the heart of Rome. This location could not be better for being close to the core of the Eternal City and a stroll to the Vatican.

Your hotels


The Hotel della Conciliazione is in “Borgo Pio”, one of the oldest and most characteristic districts in Rome. This district is a beautiful pedestrian zone with an extraordinary atmosphere, just a short walk from St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican. Completely renovated, the hotel has just 67 rooms and thanks to its exclusive location you can walk through the city’s picturesque streets to reach Rome’s most beautiful attractions, such as: Castel Sant’Angelo, the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel, the Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain and the Pantheon.

Hotel facilities: restaurant and bar with an elegant and comfortable seating area terrace. Complimentary WiFi is available throughout the hotel.

Your hotel room: double or twin rooms furnished in the local style with heating/air-conditioning. Safe, minibar/fridge, tea and coffee making facilities, desk and TV come as standard in all rooms. There will slippers provided as well.

Hotel bathrooms: bath or shower on request. All bathrooms are equipped with a hairdryer, shaving/make up mirror and complimentary soap, shampoo and shower gel is also provided.

Practical information

Entry requirements

British Citizen and EU Citizen Passport holders can currently enter Italy freely with no restrictions or other documentation required. Stays within the EU can be up to 90 days (can be spread over multiple visits) within any 180-day period.

Please note your passport must be valid for three months after your return from Italy.

Full details of entry requirements and any required vaccinations will be detailed in your final paperwork 14 days before departure.

For the latest and most up to date travel advice including entry requirements please consult the Foreign & Commonwealth Development Office travel advice website.

Health & wellbeing

For travel within the EU you should ensure that you have the Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) which is free of charge.  You can apply for the GHIC card by calling 0191 218 1999 or applying on line at…

The level of cover offered by the GHIC card varies by country visited and is only applicable in state-run health facilities. In some countries coverage may just be a partial contribution.

Adequate insurance cover will be required for all hospital emergencies and doctors’ visits.


In Rome in December the average daily maximum temperature during your stay should be around 14 degrees centigrade and early mornings and late evenings temperatures can drop to 08 degrees.  Rainfall is usually a short shower on just a few days of the month.


Dress is casual throughout the holiday. You may wish to take one or two smarter items for the evenings. Warm casual clothing is recommended in the day-time with evenings being smart/casual. As the sightseeing visits require a certain amount of walking, we suggest you take a pair of comfortable shoes with a good sole for the cobbled streets.


There is a certain amount of walking (and stairs) involved on a daily basis on this holiday so please make sure you pack comfy footwear for this so that you are prepared. Your Local Guides will keep you updated on a daily basis with what to expect the following day. If you are finding it difficult to keep up, then please make sure you tell your Local Guide and Group Leader who can help you to find places to rest and relax and then you can re-join the group at a later stage.

Some streets in towns and villages that you will visit will be cobbled. We suggest you take a pair of comfortable shoes with good grips or trainers. For your guided walking tours in Rome you must be prepared to be on your feet for up to 90 minutes without the need to sit down and walk two to three flights of stairs unaided.

The McCabe Educational Trust

The McCabe Educational Trust is an independent registered charity with the aim of helping inspiring people we meet on some of our pilgrimages. As ‘the haves’ encounter the ‘have nots’ the Trust has become a practical tool for one to help the other.

McCabe Pilgrimages invite all travellers to become partners in this work. A £20 voluntary donation to the Trust’s work is added to every pilgrim’s invoice and all money raised in this way is given in full to the projects the Trust supports. This scheme is voluntary and confidential with nobody put under any pressure to participate.

Travel insurance

Ensuring that your holidays are appropriately protected is one of our main priorities. That’s why we have specifically chosen Holiday Extras as our *preferred travel insurance provider to ensure that you are protected before and whilst you are travelling. Holiday Extras offer McCabe Travel guests favourable rates for single trip, multi-trip and annual policies.

For more information or to obtain a quote click below for their website

Or call them on 0800 083 3551 to speak to a friendly advisor.

Please quote AG628 upon calling to receive the best rates

Full financial security

All money paid to McCabe is fully secure. Holidays including flights are covered by our ATOL license from the Civil Aviation Authority, and holidays without flights are protected by our membership of the ABTOT bonding scheme. If a pilgrimage is cancelled, for instance through lack of numbers or for political considerations, McCabe will promptly refund all monies paid.

AITO Quality Statement

McCabe Pilgrimages is a member of the Association of Independent Tour Operators. The Association represents Britain’s leading independent tour operators and encourages high standards of quality and service. McCabe abides by the Association’s Code of Conduct and adheres to the AITO Quality Charter.

You can read McCabe reviews on the AITO website here

Read reviews


Our Programme Tour Leader Tour Dates Availability
Advent in Rome in Association with The Tablet Advent in Rome Departing From Heathrow Prices from £1999 pp Sr Dr Gemma Simmonds SJ 08/12/2023 for 6 days

Limited Availability

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