Trip Experiences for our 11 Day Biblical Greece Tour (with optional extension to Pompeii & Rome!)


September 10-20, 2023 


(NOTE: This trip is now updated through FRIDAY, September 22nd)


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Parthenon on Acropolis

"Life transforming Israel tours & teaching in the context of the land of the Bible"

Group Photos

Philippi Theater Greece Tour 2023 John DeLancey
Berea Group 2023 Greece Tour John DeLancey
Mykonos Group Sept 2023 Greece Tour John DeLancey
Patmos Group 2023 Greece Tour John DeLancey
Corinth Acropolis Group 2023 Greece Tour John DeLancey
St. Peter's Rome Italy Tour 2023 John DeLancey
Meteora Group 2023 Greece Tour John DeLancey
Meteora Group 2023 Greece Tour John DeLancey
Ephesus Group 2023 Greece Tour John DeLancey<br />
Crete Group Sept 2023 Greece tour John DeLancey
Acropolis Athens Group 2023 Greece Tour John DeLancey
Appian Way 2023 Italy Tour John DeLancey
Thessaloniki White Tower 2023 Greece Tour John DeLancey
Delphi Group Temple of Apollo Greece Tour 2023 John DeLancey
Ephesus Group 2023 Greece Tour John DeLancey
Corinth Apollo Temple Group 2023 Greece Tour John DeLancey
Rock of Areopagus Athens Group 2023 Greece Tour John DeLancey
Roman Forum Italy Tour group Sept 2023 John DeLancey

360 Photos



Days 1 & 2 – Sunday-Monday, September 10-11: Depart the US, Arrive in Thessaloniki, Greece


The day of departure finally came! God called together a total of 39 for this “Footsteps of Paul” biblical journey in Greece, Turkey, and for about half in the group, Italy (Naples, Pompeii, and Rome). Using various flights, most of us experienced on-time flights, while unfortunately, a few encountered flight delays. We hope and pray that everyone arrives in a timely manner!



The final destination of our flights here in Greece was Thessaloniki (ancient Thessalonica). It is Greece’s second largest city (besides Athens). Sunny skies and temps in the 80s greeted us. Arriving at the airport, we were met by an Expedition / Imagine Tours agent, who escorted us to our hotel. Some of us enjoyed a buffet dinner at 7, while  most in the group had a dinner plate delivered to our rooms after 9 p.m. We are here at this hotel for two nights. We are looking forward to our first full day here in Greece tomorrow!

Greece Coastline near Thessaloniki Sept Greece 2023 Greece Tour John DeLancey
Greece Coastline near Thessaloniki Sept Greece 2023 Greece Tour John DeLancey
White Tower Thessaloniki Sept Greece 2023 Greece Tour John DeLancey

Day 3 – Tuesday, September 12:, Philippi, Kavala, Amphipolis, Thessaloniki


Today was our first full day here in Greece. The weather was perfect, with a cool start in the morning (around 60), and partly sunny skies and afternoon highs in the mid 80s. We left the hotel at 7:40 a.m. following a great breakfast. We read from 1 Thessalonians 1 as we headed north to Philippi



About a two hour drive (we stopped on the way for rest rooms) took us to Philippi. We were blessed to be able to secure a special entrance into Philippi since the site was officially closed due to archaeologists working on the site. We saw the theater, the Late Roman basilicas, the forum (marketplace), and the Praetorium (judgement hall, the most likely place of Paul and Silas’ imprisonment). From this location we read from Acts 16 about God’s miraculous intervention on behalf of Paul and Silas. The jailor placed his faith in Christ that night. Leaving the site, we also got a quick glance of the traditional location for the prison of Paul and Silas (although this is a 2nd century structure and used as a cistern).

Following lunch just just outside the site of Philippi, we visited the river outside the city. It was somewhere along the Zygaktes River where Lydia (from Thyatira) heard and received the kingdom message of Christ from Paul and Silas (Acts 16). She and her household also received Christ and were baptized. Paul also confronted a pythia, or future teller. She may have been  one who gave oracles at Delphi.



Driving further north and following a panoramic of the city of Kavala, we descended down to the harbor of the city once called Neopolis in Paul’s day. Paul sailed into this port following his Macedonian vision at Troas (Acts 16).Today, only the Late Roman aqueduct and the Byzantine (later Ottoman) fortress can been seen archaeologically. Outside a Greek Orthodox Church a modern monument is erected honoring Paul’s journey here.


Amphipolis/Acropolis of Thessaloniki

From here we returned back to Thessaloniki. We made a brief stop to see the lion statue of Amphipolis. The city was established in the 4th century BC and was visited by Paul (Acts 17).  Before arriving back at our hotel in Thessaloniki, we made a brief stop to see the ancient Late Roman fortress walls at the Acropolis of the city. The view was incredible of the city below, the second largest city in Greece today (1.2 million). E read from 1 Thessalonians 4 about the return of Jesus as King! We returned to our hotel for a late dinner, a free evening, and what we hope will be a good night’s rest to catch up on jet lag.

Philippi Theater Greece Tour 2023 John DeLancey
Philippi Lydia Chapel Greece Tour 2023 John DeLancey
Philippi agora Greece Tour 2023 John DeLancey
Kavala - Neopolis Greece Tour 2023 John DeLancey
Philippi Via Ignatia Greece Tour 2023 John DeLancey
Thessaloniki Acropolis Greece Tour 2023 John DeLancey

Day 4 – Wednesday, September 13: Downtown Thessaloniki, Berea, Vergina, Meteora, Kalambaka


Today we traveled west and then south to our day’s final destination, Kalambaka. We were so thankful that our one missing couple (delayed one day because of a canceled flight) arrived last night. Our group is now 39 in number. The weather was once again perfect, with crisp blue skies and temps in the 80s. As we checked out of our hotel following breakfast, we read from Philippians 1 and 4 to begin the day.



Our first stop in Thessaloniki was to the the White Tower, a 15th century structure (although previously built during the earlier Byzantine Period) once used as a prison during there Ottoman/Turkish period. A statue of Alexander the Great is also in this area of the coastline of the city.

Next, we drove to the Roman Forum (marketplace) in the heart of the city. This was the marketplace mentioned in Acts 17 where Paul was. The text mentions a man named Jason who helped Paul and Silas. We also remembered certain believers mentioned by name (Aristarchus and Secundus) who were from this city (Acts 20:4, Romans 16). They served as later companion travelers with Paul. A one block away is the Church of St Demetrius. This was an ancient church dedicated after Demetrius, a martyr who died in 303 AD. Today this well-used Greek Orthodox Church is a landmark in the city.



Driving about 45 minutes south from here, we came to Berea. It is called Verea in Greek. While there is no archaeology here to see dating to the time of Paul, we read the Acts 17 passage in front of a small modern monument constructed in the heart of this city. We recalled about how the believers here searched the Scriptures diligently. Sopater, a believer from the city of Berea (as well as Aristarchus and Secundus from Thessalonica) was a new believer who eventually became traveling companion with Paul as well towards the end of his third missionary journey (see Acts 20:4 again). God transformed and called others to join Paul in ministry! 



About 20 minutes away is Vergina. We first walked to the archaeological ruins of the royal tomb of Philip II and Alexander IV.  Discovered in 1977, these tombs were quite impressive! While there are actually four tombs to see here, the tombs of Philip and Alexander IV (or the “Prince”) are amazingly well preserved even after more than 2,300 years! These two tombs were found intact. In the museum we also saw many of the items found in these tombs, including many incredible gold pieces, armory and weaponry of Philip II, among other personal items. In the small town of Vergina we enjoyed a very usual Greek lunch including traditional dishes such as moussaka, lamb, and Greek salad. It was a great meal! 



Following lunch, we continued our scenic drive south to Kalambaka. This is the heart of the country of Greece. We traversed up and over the Pindos mountain range. At about 4:30 p.m., we arrived to the area of Meteora. Six Greek monasteries are still active here (of a total of 24), the earliest dating back to the early 1,300’s. We entered the monastery of St. Stephen’s. Aliki took us into the chapel area. Monks for 100s of years have dedicated their lives in carefully building these with such precision. The view from the area and these monasteries was stunning. Upon leaving the one called St. Stephen’s, we drove to a few panoramic views of the area and Kalambaka far below. After checking in to our hotel, we enjoyed a great buffet dinner once again and a free evening!

Thessaloniki Demetrius Greece Tour 2023 John DeLancey
Meteora St. Stephens 2023 Greece Tour John DeLancey
Vergina Greece Tour 2023 John DeLancey
Meteora St. Stephens crosses 2023 Greece Tour John DeLancey
Vergina Philip II Gold 2023 Greece Tour John DeLancey
Meteora Greece Tour 2023 John DeLancey

Day 5 – Thursday, September 14: Thermopylae, Delphi, Athens


Today was another beautiful day, with full sun and comfortable temps in the 80s. We drove south with a final destination in Athens. Again, the beauty of the high mountains (80% of Greece is mountainous), valleys, and plains of inland Greece was incredible behold. We read from various verses about “running the race” from Paul’s letters as we left the hotel at 7:40 to begin the day.



The mooning drive took us to the area of Thermopylae. It was here in the famous battle that took place in 480 BC where King Leonidas, along with 300 Spartan greeks (and incidentally along with 700 Thespian greeks) were defeated by the Persians. These Persians would be later defeated in a sea battle at Salamis shortly after. Today, only a monument stands in honor of the courage of these brave greek warriors.



Continuing southward, we drove towards Delphi. Before climbing the final stretch of mountains, we first enjoyed lunch at Itea, a small quaint town along the Ionian (Adriatic) Sea coastline.

Following lunch, we arrived in Delphi. Following a classic Greek lunch once again, we arrived at the archaeological site. First, we walked through the museum. Many impressive artifacts are displayed here, including the famous bronze charioteer (dating to 476 BC), and the Gallio Inscription. This was written by a scribe named Claudius who mentions “my friend Gallio the proconsul of Achaia.” Luke mentions him as well as the one who listened to Paul at Corinth (Acts 18:13).

The archaeological site nearby was quite impressive. We ascended through the site, complete with the famous Temple of Apollo, a theater, and a stadium. The Pythian Games were held here in Delphi every four years in honor of Apollo. Paul used the image of “running the race” often (i.e. 1 Corinthians 9, Philippians 3, etc…).

Delphi was known in this classical period of Greece as the place of oracles. The women who shared oracles were call pythia. Acts 16:16 uses the same word. Paul and Silas preached that accepting Christ as spoken in the very Word (e.g. oracle) of God and trusting in God’s Spirit is what gives purpose and direction for our lives! Paul would also say that we are there “temple of God” with God’s Spirit indwelling within us (1 Corinthians 3:16f).



Following the visit of this incredible classic Greek site, we drove to Athens. We arrived about 2.5 hours later. We checked into our hotel and enjoyed dinner together. Following dinner, some walked to Constitution Square to see the changing of the guard. We are all looking forward to our three-day cruise that begins tomorrow.

Thermopylae Greece Tour 2023 John DeLancey
Delphi Temple of Apollo Greece Tour 2023 John DeLancey
Delphi Group Bronze Charioteer Greece Tour 2023 John DeLancey
Delphi Temple of Apollo Greece Tour 2023 John DeLancey
Delphi Gallio Inscription Greece Tour 2023 John DeLancey
Delphi Stadium Greece Tour 2023 John DeLancey

Day 6 – Friday, September 15: Start our 3-night Aegean/Mediterranean Cruise, Mykonos


Wake-up call was a bit later today (7:30 am), with a later departure time of 9:15 as well. We enjoyed a relaxing breakfast. Some went to the top of there hotel for an amazing view of the Acropolis and Parthenon (we will visit this on Tuesday morning next week). Then we tagged our bags for the cruise boat and loaded the bus for the drive to the Laurion port of Athens (not the usual port of Piraeus). The drive to the port took a little over an hour.

Following the standard procedures of boarding the ship, the ship pulled out of the port in the early afternoon. We enjoyed the standard life-jacket drill and then lunch on the ship. The rest of the afternoon was a leisurely one as we sailed about 66 miles to our first Greek island, Mykonos. The deep blue waters of the Aegean was beautiful! Today’s weather also made it perfect, with full sun once again and highs in the 80s.



We arrive at the island of Mykonos about 6 p.m.  We disembarked the ship and then took tender boats towards the main part of the harbor. We then strolled through the maze of walkways and white-washed buildings before arriving at the famous windmill area. We enjoyed the waterfront (called Little Venus) lined with shops and cafes. After time walking around on our own, we returned to the ship on our own for a late dinner. While we sleep tonight we will travel to Kusadasi on the western coastline of Turkey.

Mykonos Sept 2023 Greece Tour 2023 John DeLancey
Mykonos Sept 2023 Greece Tour 2023 John DeLancey
Mykonos Sept 2023 Greece Tour 2023 John DeLancey
Mykonos Sept 2023 Greece Tour 2023 John DeLancey
Sunset Mykonos Greece Tour 2023 John DeLancey
Windmills Mykonos Greece Tour 2023 John DeLancey

Day 7 – Saturday, September 16: Kusadasi, Patmos


Following sailing through the night to Kusadasi (on the western coastline of Turkey), today was another bright sunny day, with blue skies and highs in the 80s again. It was a day of connecting to Paul’s ministry once again (at Ephesus), but also John’s ministry as he authored Revelation (from Patmos). The day started early, with a 7:10 departure from the ship following breakfast.



Here at Kusadasi (it means “bird island” in Turkish) is where we met our bus and local guide (Isa). Located on the western coastline of Turkey, this port city is a vacation and retirement locations for many Brits and Europeans. From here we drove directly to Ephesus.



We arrived in Ephesus at about 8 a.m. This was a massive port city back in the days of Paul. Today the water’s edge is about 4-5 miles away! Paul spent about three years here during his 3rd mission journey.

Starting from the upper part of the city and walking on the ancient 2nd century BC stone pavement (used by Paul later) towards the port, we past by a vast number of archaeological ruins. This included the odeon (small theater), statues, pillars, arches, inscriptions, public latrenes, and the Celsus Library. Sitting together in the agora, we read from Acts 19 about the dramatic event that took place in the grand theater. It held about 22,000 people! Seeing the city and knowing about the Temple of Artemis (Diana) that once stood here helped us understand the challenges Paul faced in sharing the kingdom message. We also read from Revelation 2 about what John would write about the church established here (e.g. losing one’s ‘first love’…).

On the way back to the ship we made a stop at a local rug shop/store (it’s an unavoidable part of the excursion deal). It was very interesting to learn how Turkish rugs are made, whether from cotton, wool, or silk. Shortly after noon we re-boarded the ship and enjoyed lunch and some free time. It was fun being on the deck as the islands past by.



As we set sail out of Kusadasi for the southwest, we past by the narrowest opening, with the coastline of Turkey on our left and the island of Samos on our right (Acts 20:15). Paul stopped here on this mountainous island at the end of his 3rd mission journey en route back to Jerusalem.

Later in the afternoon we gathered on the top deck as we approached the island of Patmos. This island is another one of the picturesque Greek islands. While imprisoned on this island, the Apostle John wrote the Book of Revelation from here. To get to the island, we had to use tender boats.

Upon arriving on the island, we skipped the guided tour to the Grotto of the Apocalypse (a very traditional stop where John supposedly was imprisoned and received his vision) and drove straight to the top of the island. Here, we read from Revelation 4,5 and 19, remembering that Revelation is a victory book written by John who was exiled here, that honors Christ! About a five minute walk higher took us to a Greek Orthodox monastery. It is called St. John’s and it has been active for a little over 900 years! In the museum here we saw some manuscripts of texts that date back to the 6th century AD! The view from here of the harbor below was incredible.

We returned back down to the water’s edge for some free time (and a few went swimming!). At our leisure, we took the tender boats back to the ship. We enjoyed a wonderful dinner, a Greek barbecue on the open deck! Some in the group also enjoyed the Greek show that was offered later. During the night hours while we sleep we sail to the island of Crete.

Ephesus Turkey 2023 Greece Tour John DeLancey
Patmos Greece Tour 2023 John DeLancey
Theater of Ephesus Greece Tour 2023 John DeLancey
Patmos Monastery Greece Tour 2023 John DeLancey
Theater of Ephesus Greece Tour 2023 John DeLancey
Patmos windmills Greece Tour 2023 John DeLancey

Day 8 – Sunday, September 17: Heraklion, Crete / Santorini


Today was another perfectly sunny day, with temps once again around 75. The Greek islands are known for its blue skies and beautiful islands. This would include a visit to both Crete and at the end of the day to Greece’s most famous island at the end of the day, Santorini.



Following breakfast, we disembarked the ship at around 7:30 for the first excursion of the day on the island of Crete. We read from Titus 3 as we boarded our bus. After a short ride through the town of Heraklion, we arrived at the Knossos excavations. Here we saw the archaeological discoveries of the Minoan civilization. They were probably one of the forerunners of the Philistines. Some suggest Caphtor (in Jeremiah 47:4, Amos 9:7) is the ancient island of Crete, while they were called the Sea Peoples by the Egyptian Pharoah, Ramses III in the late 13th-12th century BC.

As for the Minoans, this people group dates back to about 2,000 BC (about the time of Abraham). Here we saw the restored palace area, with many frescoes and other ruins. Biblically in the New Testament, it was Paul who left Titus here on this island, giving instructions on appointing church leaders in the towns (Titus 1:5ff). Also, Paul himself would have sailed around the lee of Crete (Acts 27:7) on his way to Rome.

Before leaving the island we enjoyed some free time walking around the shops and stores near the modern port. Many bought olive oil (since Crete is well known for having the best!). Many also enjoyed the beautiful blue waters down at the port area.



After re-boarding the ship, we enjoyed lunch and some free time before gathering once again on the top deck. The approach into the port of Santorini was incredible. Most of the city is perched high on the edge of this ancient volcano. It most likely erupted around 1550 BC (some suggest 1453 BC) and brought an end to the Minoans living here. After taking our turn taking the tender boats once again in order to get to the port, some took the cable car to the top while others walked up the steep donkey path. It is about a 1,000 foot climb.

The view from the top was breathtaking! No words can adequately describe  it!  Santorini is the most picturesque islands! From the top, most in the group explored on their own. Some enjoyed dinner on top, with spectacular views of the sunset and the “bowl” of the volcano below (now all water).

We returned back to our tender boats on our own by 9 p.m. Once back on board the ship, during the night we set sail back to the Laurion Port of Athens. We anticipate docking tomorrow morning by the time we wake up.

Knossos Crete Greece Tour 2023 John DeLancey
Santorini Greece Tour Sept 2023 John DeLancey
Santorini Greece Tour Sept 2023 John DeLancey
Crete Greece Tour 2023 John DeLancey
Santorini Greece Tour Sept 2023 John DeLancey
Santorini Greece Tour Sept 2023 John DeLancey
Santorini Sept 2023 Greece tour John DeLancey
Santorini Greece Tour Sept 2023 John DeLancey
Santorini Sunset Sept 2023 Greece tour John DeLancey

Day 9 – Monday, September 18: Corinth, Mycenae, Cenchrea, Athens


Today we disembarked from the cruise ship following breakfast. It was a great 3-day cruise! We met the smiling faces of Aliki and Angelos (our driver) at the Laurion port of Athens. Again, the weather was perfect, with sunny skies and highs around 80. We read from 2 Corinthians 11 & 12 as we left the port.


Corinthian Canal

Directly from the port we drove south to the Peloponnese of Greece. First we stopped at the famous Corinthian Canel. It was built over a 11 year span (1882-1893) and is 3.8 miles long, 75-85 feet wide (the width varies at each ends), 280 feet deep, with the water level around 26 feet. It is really a quite incredible engineering feat!


Ancient Corinth

We then traveled another 20 minutes to the ancient site of ancient Corinth. We first visited the archaeological site. we walked down to the area of the theater where we saw the important Erastus Inscription (he donated his own money for the public works, see Romans 16:23). Then we saw the museum, with an image of the Menorah and many clay sculptures of the body parts represented (see 1 Corinthians 12), Temple of Apollo (one of 14 total pagan temples), the forum (agora in Greek), and the bema (judgement seat where Paul shared his defense/testimony before Galllio, Acts 18). Paul was here for a year and a half during his 2nd mission journey. From here he wrote letters to the Thessalonica church in the north. During his brief stay here at the end of his 3rd mission journey, we wrote Romans. It was delivered by Phoebe (Romans 16).

Before leaving the area of Corinth, we drove up to the Acropolis for a peak of the Temple of Aphrodite and a spectacular view of the plain of Corinth 1800 feet below. The massive walls and gates date from between the the time of the Crusaders, Ottomans, and Venetians.



From here we drove about 30 minutes to Mycenae. Much of what we saw dates from 1,350 – 1,200 BC. After eating lunch at a local restaurant in modern Mycenae, we visited the site. We walked under the famous Lion’s Gate (1,250 BC). We also saw the shaft tombs (where over 30 pounds of gold was found in the 1870s excavations), the palace area, and the cistern. We also saw the Bee Hive tomb of King Agamemnon (or the Treasury of Atreus). We enjoyed singing a few worship songs in the tomb.



Leaving Mycenae, we started our way back to our hotel in Athens for a late dinner. But before leaving the area of Corinth we made a brief stop at Cenchreae (Acts 18) on the way. This was the harbor Paul used to sail to Ephesus and eventually back to Caesarea. Here Paul cut his hair because of the Nazarite vow he had made (Numbers 6:18). Phoebe also served the church established here (Romans 16:1).

We arrived back at the hotel in Athens for a late dinner and a free evening.

Corinthian Canal 2023 Greece Tour John DeLancey
Corinth Acropolis 2023 Greece Tour John DeLancey
Erastus Inscription Corinth Greece Tour 2023 John DeLancey
Mycanae 2023 Greece Tour John DeLancey
Corinth Bema 2023 Greece Tour John DeLancey
Corinth Cenchrea 2023 Greece Tour John DeLancey

Day 10 – Tuesday, September 19: Athens


Today was our last full day in Greece and was another great day. We once again enjoyed sunny blue skies, with temps in the 80s. Perfect! We would spend the entire day in Athens, the capital of Greece. We read from 1 Corinthians 3 as we left the hotel at 7:40 am.


Athens – Acropolis

We drove a short distance to the Acropolis. As we arrived, we began our climb up past the odeon (small theater that held 5,000) and the Temple of Nike, and through the Propylea (“gate-way” marked with huge pillars today). Reaching the top we saw the Erechtheum (a temple built in 421-406 BC honoring Athena, Poseidon, and Erechtheus a local goddess) and the Parthenon (built between 447-432 BC). Looking down on the top from the Acropolis in all directions we could see the Temple of Zeus, the Agora (the center of economic and public life) the Stoa of Attilos, and Mt. Lycabetus.

Leaving the Acropolis we stood at the base of the Rock of Areopagus (“Mar’s Hill) where Paul delivered his testimony. We read this speech he gave (recorded in Acts 17). In the context of the pagan customs and culture of the day, Paul was quite bold in proclaiming Christ here. Praise God for those who heard and responded to Paul’s message that day!

Leaving this area, we boarded back on the bus and enjoyed a brief city tour of Athens. We Past by the Temple of Zeus, Hadrian’s Arch, and the old Olympic stadium of Athens (made of all marble and restored for the 1896 Olympic Games).



About 12:30 we said goodbye to Aliki. We enjoyed lunch and some free time the rest of the afternoon in the Plaka, Athen’s marketplace/shopping area. Some in the group even hiked up to the top of Lycabetus. This is the highest hill around Athens. The view was a bit hazy but you can see all of Athens from here, including the Acropolis and the port of Piraeus!

We all returned to the hotel for dinner at 7 p.m. Most of the group (25) fly early to Naples, Italy tomorrow (a 8 am flight), while 10 in the group fly home (a 7 a.m. flight). A few are staying longer in Athens.

It was a great Greece trip with many incredible sites and biblical connections!

Parthenon of Athens 2023 Greece Tour John DeLancey
Mars Hill Rock of Areopagus Athens 2023 Greece Tour John DeLancey
Acropolis Athens Parthenon 2023 Greece Tour John DeLancey
Acropolis Erecheteon Athens Parthenon 2023 Greece Tour John DeLancey
Acropolis Athens Parthenon 2023 Greece Tour John DeLancey
Athens Agora 2023 Greece Tour John DeLancey

Day 11 – Wednesday, September 20: Flight home or Naples, Pompeii, and Rome, Italy


Today was a transition and flight day. Ten in the group flew home on a 7 a.m. flight back to the U.S. (they are expected to arrive back in the States latter today), while four in the group stayed on in Athens for an extended visit of the city. Twenty five of us flew at 8 a.m. to Naples, Italy for our optional extension. We had our first overcast day here in Italy, although temps were around 80. We read from Romans 1 as we left the Athens hotel for the airport. 



We landed in Naples around 9 a.m. (with the time change). We met Daniella, our agent manager, and drove directly to see the spectacular archaeological ruins of ancient Pompeii. After meeting our local guide Teresa, our tour guide, we began our visit of this famous site.

The city of Pompeii was first established in the 6th century BC. It became a large Roman city about 25,000. In 79 AD, Mt. Vesuvius erupted, causing the entire city instantly. Excavations began as early back as 1748 (through about 1925). Our guide did a wonderful job leading us around this large 168 acre city preserved in time. Among the ruins we saw the theater, the Cardo and Decomanos (the two main streets of the city), numerous frescos, the bathhouse, ovens, fountains, mosiacs, the forum, and the Temples of Jupiter, Juno, and Minerva. Of course we also saw a number of casts representing the figures of humans who lost their lives suddenly due to the eruption. Following our visit of the site we enjoyed a late lunch (one fire/oven-baked pizza!) Before heading to Naples.



Our panoramic bus tour of Naples included a short orientation of the history of city, often known for its centuries of important art and architecture. The city’s cathedral, the Duomo di San Gennaro, is filled with frescoes. Other major landmarks include the lavish Royal Palace and Castel Nuovo, a 13th-century castle. We stopped on one of the seven hills of Naples to see Puteoli, a city mentioned in Acts 28. The Apostle Paul was greeted by fellow believers here when he topped by en route to Rome. It was humbling to see the open waters and bay used by Paul.

After saying goodbye to Teresa and escorted by Daniella, we drove to Rome. We took a road that paralleled the Appian Way, a section or Roman road used by Paul on his entrance into the city.  We arrived at our hotel. Following checking in, we enjoyed a very nice sit-down dinner at 8 p.m. We are looking forward to two full days in Rome. 

Theater Pompeii Italy Tour 2023 John DeLancey
Vesuvius Pompeii Italy Tour 2023 John DeLancey
Pompeii Italy Tour 2023 John DeLancey
Puteoli Italy Tour 2023 John DeLancey
Pompeii Italy Tour 2023 John DeLancey
Naples Italy Tour 2023 John DeLancey

Day 12 – Thursday, September 21: Rome, Vatican & Sistine Chapel, Appian Way, St. Paul’s Church Outside the Walls


Today was our first full day in Rome (the first of two). We got to sleep in a bit because of our later reservation at the Vatican. The weather was overcast again, with one light five-minute shower to begin the day, but partly sunny the rest of the day. Temps were around 80. As we left the hotel, we read from Romans 11:33-36.



Rome is a very large, with 6 million residents (3 million living inside the city limits, with 3 million living around the city). This means a LOT of traffic, everywhere! There are a total of 453 churches in Rome. The ancient Roman walls that we saw from time to time throughout each day (dating from 269-275 AD) are 19 kilometers (13-14 miles) long. 380 towers were incorporated into the wall as well as 14 gates.


Vatican City – Museum & Sistine Chapel

We left the hotel at 9:20 today. We drove directly to the area of the Vatican where we visited the museum and Sistine Chapel. About 850 people live in the “Vatican” today, the world’s smallest official “state.” Getting into the Vatican with special “VIP” status helped us avoid the hours-long lines.  

Walking through the museum was packed with people. It was filled with ancient artifacts (i.e. Helena’s sarcophagus), tapestries, and maps that were all breath-taking. Even the ceilings of the hallways were amazing! Finally we arrived at the Sistine Chapel. The uncle of Pope Julius II built it in 1483 when Michelangelo was only five years old. So many of his teachers began painting the images in the chapel. The ceiling was left blue, with golden stars until Michelangelo began his masterwork in 1508. He was 37-38 years old at this time. It took him four years of painting the ceiling. Much later, we also spent another five years to complete the Last Judgment scene on the front wall of the chapel. The chapel is simply stunning! Michelangelo was 89 when he died in 1564. About 35,000 enter the Sistine Chapel every day (note: the photo of the Sistine Chapel is not mine).


St. Peter’s Basilica

Leaving the chapel we entered St. Peter’s Basilica. It is the largest in the world. The original church was built in 319-326 AD, but the present church was built in 1504. It took 120 years to complete! When Michelangelo was 73, he started designing the dome of the church, the largest in the world. As we walked through the church, we saw the famous Pieta sculpture of Mary holding the crucified Jesus. This was the only sculpture completed by Michelangelo. We also saw the remains of a few Popes who earned “sainthood” after their deaths. Leaving the church we entered Vatican Square. It is a large gathering place in front of the church itself. We enjoyed about an hour of free time here for lunch.


Appian Way

After getting back on our bus (at the cool underground bus depot), we drove outside the walls of Rome to the actual Appian Way. Paul would have used this ancient road that dates back to as early as 312 BC. Paul walked 170 miles of this road into Rome, beginning at Puteoli (where his ship landed after the shipwreck at Malta). We read from Acts 28 and consider the journey of Paul to Rome and the new and trying experiences that awaited him. Yet he was “not ashamed of the Gospel” (Romans 1:16) as we continued to serve out the last years of his life for Christ! From this ancient road, we walked back to the bus.


St. Paul’s Church Outside the Walls

Out last stop of the day was to the St. Paul’s Church Outside the Walls. The church originally goes back to 330 AD. It was rebuilt many times. A fire in 1823 destroyed it, but it was rebuilt shortly later in 1827. By tradition, Paul was buried here. The traditional hand cuffs that bound Paul are also displayed here. 267 Popes are also displayed here all around the sanctuary. The church is owned and maintained by Vatican City.

On our way back to the hotel we past by St. John’s Lateran Church (formerly called Church of our Savior). This was the very first official church, built in 313 AD (St. Peter’s Cathedral was built in 319-326 AD). Up through the 14th century AD, all the Popes lived in the adjacent building next to the church. The church was later redone in the 1500s. The new Pope always comes here and is appointed the Bishop of Rome here.  Because of the church being the bishop center, it is viewed as the most sacred of all Catholic Churches around the world. Twenty two Popes are buried here.

We also past by the Sacred Steps. As a monk, Martin Luther climbed these steps on his knees, trying to merit forgiveness. It is believed that Helena brought the 28 steps from Jerusalem. The steps are to believed to be used by Jesus went brought before Pontius Pilate.

We returned back to our hotel at about 6:15 p.m. Following another more fancy served dinner, many in the group walked to the see the Colosseum at night. It was a great first day here in Rome!

Vatican Rome Italy tour 2023 John DeLancey
Pieta St. Peter's Italy tour 2023 John DeLancey
Appian Way Italy tour 2023 John DeLancey
Sistine Chapel Italy Tour 2023 John DeLancey
St. Peter's Italy tour 2023 John DeLancey
St. Paul's Outside the Walls Italy tour 2023 John DeLancey
St. Peter's Italy tour 2023 John DeLancey
St. Peter's Italy tour 2023 John DeLancey
St. Paul's Outside the Walls Italy tour 2023 John DeLancey

Day 13 – Friday, September 22: Navona Square, Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, Mamertine Prison, Forum, Colosseum, Catacombs


Today was our second and last full day in Rome. The weather was overcast, but at least the predicted showers did not come. Temps were about 75 again. We walked most of the day, adding about 5 miles to our total for the tour. We read from Romans 3 & 6 as we left the hotel about 8 am.


Navona Square, Pantheon & Trevi Fountain

We began our day by visiting the Navona Square. This was once the large stadium of Domitian here. Today, three fountains and many shops stand in the place where the stadium once was. We then walked to the Pantheon, the largest dome built in the ancient world. Most confidently date the building to the Emperor Hadrian’s reign (although the first structure built here dates to 27 BC) and describe its purpose as a temple to all the gods. There is a hole in the middle of the roof. Passing by a large 2nd century AD temple (dedicated to the deified emperor Hadrian by his adoptive son and successor Antoninus Pius in 145 AD), we arrived at the famous Trevi Fountain. We enjoyed some good Italian gelato here as we took 30 minutes to rest from our morning walking. The place wasn’t too packed with people as it normally is.


Mamertine Prison

From here we walked to an area near the Victorinio Emmanuel Venezia monument (built between 1871-1911). Nearby we visited the Mamertine Prison. Here stands a Catholic Church called St. Joseph’s of the Carpenters. Beneath this structure are the remains of the traditional site of the imprisonments of the Apostle Paul and the Apostle Peter in Rome. This prison was simply known as “Carcer” (“prison”) in Paul’s day. The term “Mamertine” was attributed to the prison in the Medieval Period.

The Carcer was the only prison in ancient Rome. When someone was sentenced to death, they were brought here to await execution. Below the upper chamber is a circular room called the Tullianum. Prisoners entered the Tullianum from the Carcer by being lowered through a hole in the Carcer’s floor. According to tradition, the apostle Peter caused the well-water to spring up so that he might baptize his jailors. It is debated, however, whether Peter was actually incarcerated here.

The state rarely incarcerated common criminals, but kept the Mamertine Prison for political prisoners doomed for execution by being thrown off the Tarpeian Rock. Enemies of the State were often strangled in the Tullianum. A door in the chamber offered access to the Cloaca Maxima (Rome’s sewer system), and it is thought that the bodies of executed prisoners may have been carried out through there Because of its association with Paul and Peter, the Mamertine Prison has been used as a place of worship since roughly the 7th century. (note: the above information about the prison is credited to Dr. Todd Bolen).


Roman Forum

Next, we entered the Roman Forum. We past by all kinds of Roman structures, pillars, and the open area of this ancient marketplace. Standing by the Basilica of Julia and the Temple of Castor & Pollux, we read from Acts 28 (28:11 mentions these two “twin gods” of Jupiter, gods of protection for sea-farers and warriors), and Romans 15 and 16. Flowing Paul’s successful ministry here in Rome (and probably in Spain), he comes back to Rome where he is tried most likely in the Basilica of Julia. He was beheaded in 67 AD. God used him in amazing ways to spread the Gospel to so many! It was special to stand nearby where he was condemned to death. He gave his life for the cause of Christ!

Also in the Forum we saw the Arch of Septimuis and Severus, the temples of Zeus (Jupiter), Vesta, and Romulus. These were later converted to churches. Finally, we saw the Arch of Titus. Inside the arch is an image of the Menorah of the Jerusalem Temple taken in 70 AD.  We exited the Forum where we enjoyed lunch (many had pizza again!).


The Colosseum

Following launch we walked to the famous Colosseum. It was built between 72-80 AD. The first few years was just to prepare the foundation and lower levels. In this area once stood a large colossal statue of Nero. Over 300 tons of iron (e.g. pins) was used to hold the structure together. The Colosseum held up to 50,000 people. Gladiators fought here for 450 years against both animals and other men. 16o statues lined the facade of the Colosseum. Eighteen brick factories in Rome were used to build it. It stood about 160 high. The last use of the Colosseum was 523 AD. Later, two earthquakes destroyed about half of this structure.

Going inside the Colosseum was amazing! We first went to the top for a panoramic view. We then descended down to the lower level. 54 lifts or trap doors were used to lift both animals and gladiators. By 1714, Pope Benedict proclaimed the Colosseum a holy place because of the number of Christian martyrs killed here. From the Colosseum we we had a good view of Constantine’s Arch. This was built in 315, primarily from re-used stone from previous emperors. It is one of seven arches still standing today.  (note: the night time picture of the Colosseum was taken the previous evening).



The bus picked us up outside the Forum and drove us past the Circus Maximus (a stadium that held 300,000 people). More Christians were actually killed here than at the Colosseum. We arrived at the Domitilla Catacombs. This is one of of three underground cemeteries in Rome open to the public (a total of 62 catacombs have been discovered). This one was the a Christian graveyard and it dates from about 200-500 AD. This catacombs here consist of 3 labyrinth layers of graves spanning about 8 miles. It is believed that there were 27,000 tombs here. It was incredible to see so many of them. It was a cool 60 degrees down below.

We ended the day by being driven back to the hotel for one last great dinner. After dinner, we retired to bed because of our early departure times for most of us tomorrow. It has been a wonderful trip and extension, following in the footsteps of Paul. (note: the photo down in the catacombs was from the internet).

The Pantheon Italy Tour 2023 John DeLancey
Marmentine Prison Italy Tour 2023 John DeLancey
Roman Colosseum Italy Tour 2023 John DeLancey
Trevi Fountain Italy Tour 2023 John DeLancey
Titus Arch Rome, Italy Tour 2023 John DeLancey
Colosseum Night Italy Tour group Sept 2023 John DeLancey
Roman Forum Italy Tour 2023 John DeLancey
The Colosseum in Rome, Italy Tour 2023 John DeLancey
Catacombs Rome Italy Tour 2023 John DeLancey

Day 14 – Saturday, September 23: Rome, Arrive Back Home

Mars Hill – Athens

Dr. John shares a live devotional video from Mars Hill. Also called the Rock of Areopagus, this was where Paul shared his bold testimony among the philosophers of the day (Acts 17). Mars Hill is located just below the Acropolis of Athens.

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