0 Items
Generic selectors
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content
Search in posts
Search in pages

The weeks leading up to August 2, 2021, were filled with news of variants and ever-changing travel requirements. In the midst of the unknown, a group of 18 faithful pilgrims waited to see if their trip would actually be able to travel. There were a lot of thoughts and questions floating around, and answers were difficult to come by.

“Fear, anxiety, and not-knowing were all a part of it, but we had been waiting for this for so long, that we thought, Well, if we go and something happens, so be it. We just put it in God’s hands and said, ‘If it’s your will, we’ll go. If it’s not, we won’t go.’” said Deacon Syler.

Lisa Morris and Father Mike Nolan watched the news and kept in close contact with Select International Tours and Cruises’ Travel Account Manager, Jane Allison, as the departure date came closer and closer. “The requirements for entry into Italy were relatively stable during this time,” according to Jane. “And our partners overseas were in contact with us regularly, advising us with new information as soon as it became available. We were confident that this group was going to Italy, and the excitement in our office was palpable.”

Italy required that travelers from the USA were either vaccinated, could show proof of recovery from COVID-19, or had a negative COVID test within 48 hours of travel. Travelers who were vaccinated or recovered were allowed to skip additional testing upon arrival, while those with negative tests were required to test every 48 hours while in Italy. Select worked with the local guide to make sure that testing locations were identified and confirmed ahead of travel, so the itinerary was intact and no one else on the trip was impacted.

First Pilgrimage to Italy

Pilgrims take advantage of a group photo on the less crowded streets of Italy.

Jane, Lisa, and Father kept everyone in the know as the departure date arrived, so the group was as prepared as possible before arriving at the airport on August 2, 2021, ready to set off on the first Select International Tours pilgrimage since March of 2020! There were still some unknowns, and most of them surrounded the travel days, but everyone was prepared to be patient and learn as they went.

The check-in process required more documentation than Lisa–who has led 13 pilgrimages with Select–had ever encountered before. So there was some concern that the process would be complex. “It was a lot easier than I thought it was going to be,” says Lisa.

The process was simple and well thought out. “Just a couple of extra checks, but nothing cumbersome. It was pretty much the same as traveling before,” according to Deacon Syler In fact, the airport proved to be less of a concern than anticipated and far less crowded than normal, making for a very streamlined travel day.

When the group arrived in Italy, the checkpoints were similarly smooth, and since everyone was prepared with all the documentation they needed, there were no hiccups at all. Upon entering the country, the group was delighted to find just how welcome they were.

Pilgrims were treated to an intimate Papal Audience with Pope Francis due to less than normal visitors.

 

“We definitely went at the right time.” -Donna

“The guides were really kind of tearful, [they] were so happy to see us.” -Linda

“There were no crowds, no lines…it was just easy getting around.” -Greg

No crowds is an understatement. The Wednesday audience with the Pope usually fills St. Peter’s square, but on this visit, everyone fit into a small auditorium. Moving around the city was far easier than usual, bus parking was abundant, and there were hardly any lines. And what about the service at hotels, restaurants, and tourist sites? “Everyone fell all over themselves to help us,” says Donna.

First trip to San Giovanni

The San Giovanni guide presents pilgrims with the guest register that has been blank since March 2020.

But it was the joyful tears of the guide in San Giovanni that really brought the reality of the last year and a half into focus. She presented Father Nolan and the group with the guest register. The last entry was from March of 2020. So many people around the world rely on tourism for their income, but more importantly, many rely on tourism because they are servants at heart. While the global pandemic has been difficult for most people, it has hit these people in a very unique and powerful way. Their enthusiasm to serve and welcome our group is evidence of how wonderful the people we work with are. Their joy made this trip even more rewarding.

But what was it like walking around Italy? Were there more restrictions than in the US? Did anyone feel uncomfortable or anxious while traveling there?

“I thought it was going to be a lot different in another country, but it was just like it is here.” -Greg

“You won’t have to do anything different than you do when you’re [in the USA]. You wear a mask when you’re in a crowd. And they will ask you to wear a mask in certain places, but out on the streets, you don’t have to.” -Donna

The United States is requiring a negative COVID test before travelers return. Select International was able to arrange group testing in the hotel, so everyone was able to have their test at the same time. “We were kind of joking about how terrible it would be to be stuck in Sorrento for two weeks,” says Deacon Ratterman. The group had followed all the protocols throughout the entire trip and were rewarded with negative results all around.

Our pilgrims enjoying a rooftop dinner in Rome.

And what would the pilgrims from this first pilgrimage trip to Italy since the pandemic say to you?

“Be open to what’s going on. Trust in the Lord. But once we started with the travels, there were no issues. It was just getting over that first hurdle of anxiety and fear of the unknown.” -Deacon Syler

“You’re as safe there as you are anywhere…and you’re never going to find a better time–in my opinion–to go.” -Deacon Ratterman

“Go for it. Until they shut you down, go for it!” -Linda

“Let go of the stress about what I am going to do. Trust in God. If the pilgrimage is going to go, just know that it’s going to be good and okay. If it’s not meant to be, then it won’t go. Just leave the anxiety and say, ‘It’s in God’s hands. If the pilgrimage goes, then I’m going to go and it’s going to be great!’” says Lisa Morris.

If you are ready to see Italy, we have more trips leaving soon! Click HERE to see what’s available or give us a call at 1-800-842-4842 to find the trip that’s right for you.

Happy pilgrims enjoying the first trip back to Italy after 18 months!

The weeks leading up to August 2, 2021, were filled with news of variants and ever-changing travel requirements. In the midst of the unknown, a group of 18 faithful pilgrims waited to see if their trip would actually be able to travel. There were a lot of thoughts and questions floating around, and answers were difficult to come by.

“Fear, anxiety, and not-knowing were all a part of it, but we had been waiting for this for so long, that we thought, Well, if we go and something happens, so be it. We just put it in God’s hands and said, ‘If it’s your will, we’ll go. If it’s not, we won’t go.’” said Deacon Syler.

Lisa Morris and Father Mike Nolan watched the news and kept in close contact with Select International Tours and Cruises’ Travel Account Manager, Jane Allison, as the departure date came closer and closer. “The requirements for entry into Italy were relatively stable during this time,” according to Jane. “And our partners overseas were in contact with us regularly, advising us with new information as soon as it became available. We were confident that this group was going to Italy, and the excitement in our office was palpable.”

Italy required that travelers from the USA were either vaccinated, could show proof of recovery from COVID-19, or had a negative COVID test within 48 hours of travel. Travelers who were vaccinated or recovered were allowed to skip additional testing upon arrival, while those with negative tests were required to test every 48 hours while in Italy. Select worked with the local guide to make sure that testing locations were identified and confirmed ahead of travel, so the itinerary was intact and no one else on the trip was impacted.

First Pilgrimage to Italy

Pilgrims take advantage of a group photo on the less crowded streets of Italy.

Jane, Lisa, and Father kept everyone in the know as the departure date arrived, so the group was as prepared as possible before arriving at the airport on August 2, 2021, ready to set off on the first Select International Tours pilgrimage since March of 2020! There were still some unknowns, and most of them surrounded the travel days, but everyone was prepared to be patient and learn as they went.

The check-in process required more documentation than Lisa–who has led 13 pilgrimages with Select–had ever encountered before. So there was some concern that the process would be complex. “It was a lot easier than I thought it was going to be,” says Lisa.

The process was simple and well thought out. “Just a couple of extra checks, but nothing cumbersome. It was pretty much the same as traveling before,” according to Deacon Syler In fact, the airport proved to be less of a concern than anticipated and far less crowded than normal, making for a very streamlined travel day.

When the group arrived in Italy, the checkpoints were similarly smooth, and since everyone was prepared with all the documentation they needed, there were no hiccups at all. Upon entering the country, the group was delighted to find just how welcome they were.

Pilgrims were treated to an intimate Papal Audience with Pope Francis due to less than normal visitors.

“We definitely went at the right time.” -Donna

“The guides were really kind of tearful, [they] were so happy to see us.” -Linda

“There were no crowds, no lines…it was just easy getting around.” -Greg

No crowds is an understatement. The Wednesday audience with the Pope usually fills St. Peter’s square, but on this visit, everyone fit into a small auditorium. Moving around the city was far easier than usual, bus parking was abundant, and there were hardly any lines. And what about the service at hotels, restaurants, and tourist sites? “Everyone fell all over themselves to help us,” says Donna.

First trip to San Giovanni

The San Giovanni guide presents pilgrims with the guest register that has been blank since March 2020.

But it was the joyful tears of the guide in San Giovanni that really brought the reality of the last year and a half into focus. She presented Father Nolan and the group with the guest register. The last entry was from March of 2020. So many people around the world rely on tourism for their income, but more importantly, many rely on tourism because they are servants at heart. While the global pandemic has been difficult for most people, it has hit these people in a very unique and powerful way. Their enthusiasm to serve and welcome our group is evidence of how wonderful the people we work with are. Their joy made this trip even more rewarding.

But what was it like walking around Italy? Were there more restrictions than in the US? Did anyone feel uncomfortable or anxious while traveling there?

“I thought it was going to be a lot different in another country, but it was just like it is here.” -Greg

“You won’t have to do anything different than you do when you’re [in the USA]. You wear a mask when you’re in a crowd. And they will ask you to wear a mask in certain places, but out on the streets, you don’t have to.” -Donna

The United States is requiring a negative COVID test before travelers return. Select International was able to arrange group testing in the hotel, so everyone was able to have their test at the same time. “We were kind of joking about how terrible it would be to be stuck in Sorrento for two weeks,” says Deacon Ratterman. The group had followed all the protocols throughout the entire trip and were rewarded with negative results all around.

Our pilgrims enjoying a rooftop dinner in Rome.

And what would the pilgrims from this first pilgrimage trip to Italy since the pandemic say to you?

“Be open to what’s going on. Trust in the Lord. But once we started with the travels, there were no issues. It was just getting over that first hurdle of anxiety and fear of the unknown.” -Deacon Syler

“You’re as safe there as you are anywhere…and you’re never going to find a better time–in my opinion–to go.” -Deacon Ratterman

“Go for it. Until they shut you down, go for it!” -Linda

“Let go of the stress about what I am going to do. Trust in God. If the pilgrimage is going to go, just know that it’s going to be good and okay. If it’s not meant to be, then it won’t go. Just leave the anxiety and say, ‘It’s in God’s hands. If the pilgrimage goes, then I’m going to go and it’s going to be great!’” says Lisa Morris.

If you are ready to see Italy, we have more trips leaving soon! Click HERE to see what’s available or give us a call at 1-800-842-4842 to find the trip that’s right for you.

 

Happy pilgrims enjoying the first trip back to Italy after 18 months!

Do You Want a FREE Guide to Discerning Pilgrimage?

Sign up here, and we will send you a beautiful ebook by author and Select International Tour Pilgrimage Group Leader Stephen J. Binz. Inside, you will learn about many of the sacred sites in the Holy Land with guided readings, prayers, and reflections. 

Please check your email to download your ebook. If it lands in your SPAM or PROMOTIONS folder, please move it to the inbox.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This