CMDA 2020 Italy Tour #1: May 2020

May 3, 2020 – May 15, 2020

An invitation from Gene and Gay Rudd

“All roads lead to Rome.”

This ancient proverb not only reflects the influence that Rome had at the time of Christ, it also reflects the significant influence the Italian culture has had on shaping the world we know today.

Roman culture influenced the life of Jesus and the Apostles. Paul’s road also led him to Rome. Sharing the Gospel in the city of Rome was perhaps his most ambitious logistical goal—bringing “good news” to the capitol of the world! Rome was where he was imprisoned and later martyred. The church in Rome is where Paul sent his most comprehensive theological treatise.

Not only did the story of salvation come to us through Rome, much of our culture, language, arts, and science are rooted with that Mediterranean nation. We still marvel and benefit from its inventions, art, and music.

Come join us on the road that leads to Rome. We begin the journey in the north at Venice and travel south through Florence to Rome. And for those staying for the optional extension, we will go further south to visit Naples, Pompeii, Castel Gondolfo, and more.

We will immerse ourselves in the sights, sounds, and tastes of Italy. We will enjoy outstanding accommodations and savor amazing cuisine. And along the way, our guide will inspire and educate us on how the Body of Christ was birthed, struggled, met opposition, and yet grew within this culture.

The lasting impressions of what we see and hear will be enhanced by fellowship with other CMDA families and friends. We intentionally limit the size of the tour to make the experience more intimate and memorable.

Won’t you register today and join Gay and me on the road that leads to Rome?

Registration Information

Tour includes the following

  • Lodging – 9 nights (12 if staying for extension)
  • Hotel city tax and porterage at hotels
  • Breakfast and dinner at hotels or local restaurants
  • Entrance fees to museums and other sites
  • Bus transportation throughout tour
  • Individual headsets to hear the tour guide

Rates do not include

  • Airfare to Venice and from Rome
  • Handling of baggage at the airport
  • Insurance
  • Lunches
  • Beverages (other than water)

Registration Cost 

Main Tour

  • Double Occupancy – $2,895.00 per person
  • Single Occupancy – $3,750.00 per person

Optional Extension

  • Double Occupancy – $780.00 per person
  • Single Occupancy – $891.00 per person


  • Fly IN TO Venice (Venice Marco Polo – VCE) no later than Sunday, May 3, 2020
  • Fly OUT OF Rome (Rome – Fiumicino “Leonardo da Vinci”- FCO) no earlier than the morning of Tuesday, May 12, 2020 (Main Tour) or Friday, May 15, 2020 (for extension). If departing on May 15, please book flights for 10 AM or later.

Recommended Travel Agency 

  • World Travel Service, Inc.
  • Agent: Judy Rouse
  • Direct Number: 865-777-1622
  • Email:

Visas and Passports
No Visa is required for U.S. citizens to enter Italy as a tourist. G3Visas ( and Passports can assist with passport procurement.

Click here for a day-by-day itinerary.

Activity Level 
This tour is considered “moderately strenuous.” You should be able to walk 2-miles on uneven terrain without difficulty.

Cancellation Fees
Cancellations and requests for refund must be submitted in writing to the Christian Medical & Dental Associations at the address below or by email. Cancellation charges will be assessed as follows:

Before or on January 1, 2020 – Full Refund, minus $100 administrative fee
January 2 – 31, 2020 – $600 per person
February 1 – March 15, 2020 – $1,000 per person
On or after March 15, 2020 – No refunds

Contact Kim at


Sunday, May 3
Upon arrival at Venice’s airport, transfer to hotel located in Meste. Some time at leisure to rest.

Dinner and overnight at Hotel Antony.


Monday, May 4
Soon after breakfast, transfer to central Venice by private motorboat and meet your local guide. Enjoy a tour of the magnificent Piazza and Basilica of St. Mark’s, its marvelous Byzantine-style architecture studded with colored marbles and glittering gold mosaics and housing the tomb of the Evangelist Mark. Visit also the elaborate Doge’s Palace, sumptuous home of the former Venetian rulers with its famous Bridge of Sighs, where prisoners crossed before being led to the dungeons.

Some time at leisure for an optional gondola ride or for shopping. In the afternoon you might have a visit to the permanent historical exhibition called: “The Waldesian: Eight centuries of history” in the centrally located “Palazzo Cavagni”. The Waldesian Church of Italy is the oldest protestant Church of the world.

Or walk on your own throughout the “calle” (streets) and squares where the Italian Reformer Paolo Vergerio used to make speeches against the Church of Rome.

Return to hotel. Dinner and overnight at Hotel Antony.


Tuesday, May 5
Early morning departure towards south. Reach Ravenna in approx. 1.5 hour drive and meet the local guide for a walking tour.

Within its ancient walls it keeps the richest heritage of mosaics dating from the 5th and 6th centuries. For this reason its early Christian and Byzantine religious buildings have been acknowledged as world heritage by Unesco. See the Mausoleum of Galla Placidia, which hides a ceiling of infinite stars, and the refined composition that decorates Neonian Baptistery, which is inspired by a cultured Hellenic tradition.

Some time at leisure for lunch before continuing south to reach Florence in the late afternoon.

Dinner and overnight at Grand Hotel Mediterraneo in Florence


Wednesday, May 6
Your guide will meet you at hotel this morning and stay with you for a full day guided tour of the city.  Discover the cradle of the Renaissance where one breathes art in the medieval streets, in the craftsmen’s workshops, and in the Renaissance Palaces.

Here the memories of the Medici family are united with the splendor of the works of illustrious artists such as Michelangelo, Da Vinci and Botticelli.

You will see the famous “Gates of Paradis Doors” of the Baptistery of St. John (entrance excluded), the religious essence of the city, the remarkable Duomo, the Basilica of San Lorenzo, Piazza della Signoria, and the Basilica of Santa Croce, a masterpiece of Gothic art and the pantheon of famous Italians such as Michelangelo and Machiavelli. The tour ends at the Accademia Gallery, which hosts Michelangelo’s famous David.

The rest of the day is at leisure to explore additional treasures of Florence and shop on your own. The outdoor Market of San Lorenzo boasts leather products, and the Ponte Vecchio, covered since medieval times with goldsmith shops, is a must for Florence’s other specialty, gold jewelry.

Dinner and overnight at Grand Hotel Mediterraneo.


Thursday, May 7
Depart Florence soon after breakfast. Drive through the scenic Tuscan countryside to reach Siena in a 1.5 hour drive. Famed for the rich red color of its cityscape, Siena is home of the Palio, a horse race dating from medieval times and which takes place each July in Siena’s central square! Enjoy Siena’s major treasures, including its fabulous marble gothic cathedral.

After lunch you will board your bus and continue towards south to reach Assisi in approx. 2.5 hour drive.

Dinner and overnight at Grand Hotel Assisi.


Friday, May 8
After a short bus ride, your group will meet your local guide and start an unforgettable walk through the narrow streets of the ancient town, which sweeps the flanks of Monte Subasio. You will visit the Church of Santa Chiara, the site where St. Francis was born and then on to see the house where he spent the first years of his life. You will then reach the very heart of the town, the Piazza del Comune (Town Hall square), with its Roman and medieval buildings. Then, near the ancient city walls, you will visit the Basilica of St Francis, which houses the tomb of the Saint. The interiors are decorated with frescoes from the 12th and 13th centuries.

Some time at leisure for lunch before transfer by bus to the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli to visit the small Portiuncola chapel and the site where St. Francis died in 1226.

Return to hotel. Dinner and overnight at Grand Hotel Assisi.


Saturday, May 9
Early morning departure towards south to reach Rome in 2.5 hours drive.

Upon arrival meet your local guide and have a walking tour through the real core of Ancient Rome. This tour will show you the great “power” of Rome and Emperors who demanded divinity for themselves. This was mainly what Paul preached against in Roman 1:25 …. and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed forever.

From the Trajan’s Column, jewel of architecture and sculpture made by Apollodorus of Damascus, our guide will show you along the Via dei Fori Imperiali (street of the Imperial Fora), the ruins of the fori that the great emperors built as lasting memory of their power. You will see the Forum of Trajan, the biggest and most splendid of all, whose markets, true forerunners of the modern commercial centers, offered to the Roman citizen any goods to be found at that time. On foot you will reach the Capitoline Hill, once political and religious center of the town, which today is the seat of the Municipality. The stairway will lead you to the Piazza del Campidoglio, the magnificent result of a single project by Michelangelo, with a copy of the most famous equestrian statue in the world, the statue of Marcus Aurelius, in the middle. Behind Piazza del Campidoglio you will find a natural terrace providing the best panoramic point over the valley of the Roman Forum and the Palatine Hill.

Walking through the valley of the Roman Forum the great Rome with its important buildings will revive before your eyes; the Curia, seat of the Roman Senate, the State Archive, the basilicas, palaces of justice, the temple of Vesta, and the House of the Vestals, the virgins in charge of keeping the sacred fire always alive, and all around temples and columns and arches of triumph erected to commemorate gods of Roman history.

Romans 1:23…and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man…

From the Forum the guide will show you to the place linked to the fabulous origins of Rome: the Palatine. Here Romulus founded the town in the year 753 B.C. and starting with Augustus the great emperors settled here. From the valley of the Roman Forum you will admire the Domus Tiberiana only partially explored and the ruins of the Imperial Palaces. Leaving the Roman Forum you will find the Arch of Constantine, erected to commemorate the victory of the emperor over Maxentius in the 4th century A.D. (tradition says that before the battle the Emperor saw a brilliant cross in the sky and said the famous words “in hoc signo vinces”).

The tour ends at the Colosseum, the everlasting symbol of the greatness of Rome and the stage for the historical fights of the gladiators.

Transfer to your hotel located in central Rome. Some free time to relax or to discover the city on your own.

Dinner and overnight in Starhotel Metropole.


Sunday, May 10
This tour is a combination of the most interesting sites, which are linked, with the life of the Apostle Paul in Rome.

The place of Paul’s martyrdom, where tradition has it that three different springs gushed out at each spot touched when Paul’s head fell down.

Located on the Ancient Appian Way, this is the place where the bodies of Apostle Paul and Apostle Peter where kept during the Christian persecution of Valeriano (253 – 260 AC) which gave the first Christians the opportunity to venerate the tombs of the two Apostles.  This is the reason why this place is still today called MEMORIA APOSTOLORUM. To prove this, there are a lot of “grafiti” in Latin and Aramaic in the catacombs and in the Basilica of San Sebastian, as well.  The Basilica itself was built over the catacombs during the “Costantinianum Peace” in the name of the two Apostles.

St. Paul Outside the Walls is a Benedictine Abbey, which shares its name, origins and centuries of history, both joyful and sorrowful, with the adjoining basilica. Visit the Basilica where the bones of Paul have recently been found. You will leave Rome with the real spirit of first Christians in your mind and in your Heart.

The rest of the day is at leisure to have the opportunity to discover the Baroque center of Rome on your own. You can see the Trevi Fountain and Spanish Steps. Relax in a coffee bar or do shopping in the fashion district around via Condotti.

Return to hotel. Dinner and overnight at Starhotel Metropole.


Monday, May 11
Meet the guide at your hotel and transfer to the Vatican Museum.

Passing through the Court of the Pigna, designed by Bramante in the 16th century, you will enter the Belvedere Palace to reach the heart of the museum, the Belvedere Courtyard. Proceeding with the visit you will quickly pass the secondary galleries to reach the Greek Cross Room where the splendid Sarcophagi of St. Helene and St. Constance are housed. Walking through the Galleries of the Candelabra, of the Maps and of the Tapestries you will reach the Apostolic Palace, the oldest section of the complex of the Vatican Palaces. Your guide will show you the Apartments of Julius II, splendidly decorated by Raphael and his assistants, and then the Sistine Chapel, where you will admire one of the highest masterpieces of art: the Genesis and the Last Judgment by Michelangelo, that have gained their original splendor after the latest restorations. Leaving the Sistine Chapel and going down the Royal Stairway, projected by Bernini, the guide will conduct you to the Basilica of St. Peter, the most important temple of Christianity, which gathers inside 2000 years of history and famous works of art such as the Pietà by Michelangelo.

The visit ends at St. Peter’s Square, which is embraced by the colonnade, an architectural masterpiece by Bernini, under the symbolic protection of the “Cuppolone”, as the Romans call Michelangelo’s dome.

The afternoon is dedicated to the visit of two of the most important Christian Churches of Rome, San John di Lateran and the Holy Cross of Jerusalem. These churches are symbolic of the importance that Constantine placed on his adopted new faith. The properties for both were donated by Constantine’s family, signifying that importance.

You will visit also the Santa Scala, the Holy Steps, which are reputed to be the steps that Christ went up when he was called for a meeting with Pontius Pilate. A visit to these steps was recorded as one of the sites that Martin Luther visited when he was called by the Pope to Rome.

Return to hotel. Farewell Dinner and overnight at Starhotel Metropole.


Tuesday, May 12
For those not staying for the extension, you will check out of the hotel and transfer to the Rome airport for your return flight home.


Option Extension:

Tuesday, May 12
After breakfast at the Hotel departure to Pozzuoli. Known today as Pozzuoli, Puteoli was the main harbor for the Roman Empire. Here, we will have the opportunity to view the third largest Flavian Amphitheater in Italy before visiting the port area to see the church and plaque commemorating Apostle Paul. Proceed to Naples for enjoy a lunch with a wonderful Pizza. After Lunch departure to Sorrento for enjoy the afternoon at leisure.

Dinner and overnight at your hotel in Sorrento.


Wednesday, May 13
After breakfast depart for legendary Pompeii for a walk through archeology of an ancient city. Pompeii was buried under a layer of lava by a sudden eruption of Mount Vesuvius in the year 79 A.D. This was a town whose daily life has been petrified. It appears as if the inhabitants were under a spell with gestures, secrets and panic felt during their last moments. Visiting this “frozen city” may be similar to what Paul felt when he walked through similar streets from this Roman world. Walk through the houses, shops, temples, squares, streets and also the “Lupanare” (a house of prostitutes with frescoes showing erotic scenes) and the “Termae Suburbane ” (i.e. Suburban Baths, with erotic frescoes) among which are the only saffico-pictures of the Roman world. In his letter to the Romans, Paul expressed his anger by shouting aloud against the corruption and perdition of the Romans (Rom. 1:26). Depart for Minturno to visit the ruins of a well-preserved Roman village located on the Appian Way. St. Paul would have traveled on this ancient road on his trip to Rome. The dinner tonight is at Foro Appio Mansio Hotel, where you can enjoy a special dinner with the menu of St. Paul.

Overnight in Foro Appio.


Thursday, May 14
After breakfast in Foro Appio , drive to the very picturesque town of Castel Gandolfo. The town for the summer residence of the Pope located on the Alban hills and overlooking the volcanic Lake Albano. Castel Gandolfo is considered one of Italy’s most scenic towns. Day at leisure in Castel Gandolfo for enjoy one day around the city or some relax on the shores of the Lake.

Dinner and overnight at Hotel Castel Vecchio.


Friday, May 15
This morning depart from Castel Gandolfo to FCO Airport for your flight back home.


Kim Hodge
PO Box 7500
Bristol, TN 37621