Monday, April 11, 2011

Homeward bound - JSerra is returning to LAX after singing in the Castelli Romani Region

After a finale formal concert in the beautiful town and cathedral of Monteporzio Catone and a fun farewell at a local agriturismo, the members of the 2011 JSerra Catholic HS Italy Pilgrimage and Performance Tour are now on their way home to California. We very much enjoyed the opportunity of working with and for the choir under the direction of Mr. Andrew Alvarez.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

First recording from the joint concert of the JSerra Catholic and San Marino HS Chamber Choirs: "Battle of Jericho"

Fourth concert added to the JSerra Catholic Tour: Chamber Choir performs together with SMCC on Saturday, April 9 at 7:45 PM at SS Nomi Gesu e Maria al Corso in Rome

Incantato Tours proudly presents the JSerra Catholic High School Chamber Choir under the direction of Mr. Andrew Alvarez in concert at SS Nomi Gesu e Maria al Corso in Rome at in Maiori at 7:45PM on Saturday, April 9, 2011 together with San Marino Chamber Choir directed by Mr. Howard Cheung - a former student of Mr. Alvarez.

Santissimi Nomi Gesu e Maria al Corso, or the Church of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary, is a 16th century church in the central Via del Corso , in the Campo Marzio. It is known for its sumptuous baroque interior, vaulted ceiling, paintings by Giacinto Brandi, and an austere facade meant to invoke the plight of the beggar. The church is home to the cardinals title "Holy Names of Jesus and Mary in Via Lata," established by Pope Paul VI, June 7, 1967.
The church features one nave, whose ceiling is decorated with a painting of the Glorification of the Virgin with the Four Evangelists by Giacinto Brandi, and three chapels on each side.
On the left are chapels dedicated to St. Thomas of Villanova, St. Joseph, and Our Lady of Divine Help, as well as memorials to members of the Bolognetti family. On the right are chapels dedicated to the Crucifixion, St. Nicholalas of Tolentino, and Saint Anne. (The memorial to Mario Bolognetti on this side is said to be one of the most characteristic examples of baroque funeral sculpture.)

Friday, April 8, 2011

High Mass at Saint Peter's Basilica (Vatican City) on Friday, April 8 at 5 PM

Under the direction of Mr. Andrew M. Alvarez, the JSerra Catholic High School Chamber Singers will sing High Mass at Saint Peter's Basilica in Vatican City on Friday, April 8, 2011 at 5:00 PM.
The Papal Basilica of Saint Peter is located within the Vatican City. St. Peter's Basilica has the largest interior of any Christian church in the world, holding 60,000 people. It is the symbolic "Mother church" of the Catholic Church and is regarded as one of the holiest Christian sites. It has been described as "holding a unique position in the Christian world" and as "the greatest of all churches of Christendom".
In Catholic tradition, it is the burial site of its namesake Saint Peter, who was one of the twelve apostles of Jesus and, according to tradition, first Bishop of Rome and therefore first in the line of the papal succession. Tradition and some historical evidence hold that Saint Peter's tomb is directly below the altar of the basilica. For this reason, many Popes have been interred at St Peter's since the Early Christian period. There has been a church on this site since the 4th century. Construction of the present basilica, over the old Constantinian basilica, began on April 18, 1506 and was completed on November 18, 1626.
St. Peter's is famous as a place of pilgrimage, for its liturgical functions and for its historical associations. It is associated with the papacy, with the Counter-reformation and with numerous artists, most significantly Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni (1475-1564), an Italian Renaissance painter, sculptor, architect, poet, and engineer. Michelangelo took over a building site at which four piers, enormous beyond any constructed since the days of Ancient Rome, were rising behind the remaining nave of the old basilica. He also inherited the numerous schemes designed and redesigned by some of the greatest architectural and engineering brains of the 16th century.
Incidentally there are over 100 tombs within St. Peter's Basilica, many located in the Vatican grotto, beneath the Basilica. These include 91 popes, St. Ignatius of Antioch, Holy Roman Emperor Otto II, and the composer Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina. Exiled Catholic British royalty James Francis Edward Stuart and his two sons, Charles Edward Stuart and Henry Benedict Stuart, are buried here, having been granted asylum by Pope Clement XI. The most recent interment was Pope John Paul II, on April 8, 2005.

City Facts about Vatican City

Vatican City, officially the State of the Vatican City, is a landlocked sovereign city-state whose territory consists of a walled enclave within the city of Rome, the capital city of Italy. It has an area of approximately 44 hectares, and a population of just over 800.
Vatican City is a city-state that came into existence in 1929. It is distinct from the Holy See, which dates back to early Christianity and is the main Episcopal see of 1.147 billion Latin and Eastern Catholic adherents around the globe. Ordinances of Vatican City are published in Italian; official documents of the Holy See are issued mainly in Latin. The two entities even have distinct passports: the Holy See, not being a country, only issues diplomatic and service passports; the state of Vatican City issues normal passports. In both cases the passports issued are very few.
Vatican City is an ecclesiastical or sacerdotal-monarchical state, ruled by the bishop of Rome - the Pope. The highest state functionaries are all Catholic clergymen of various nationalities. It is the sovereign territory of the Holy See (Sancta Sedes) and the location of the Pope's residence, referred to as the Apostolic Palace. The Popes have resided in the area that in 1929 became Vatican City since the return from Avignon in 1377.


Wednesday, April 6, 2011


JSerra High School continues their performance tour with a visit to the Pope! They found themselves singing right in front of him! Great way to begin their tour of Rome.

An Extra-ordinary Day with J Serra: Rieti & a Monastery

Just a normal day on the amazing choral tour of JSerra High School.
The Piazza 

Stores closed during this time of the day? Normal for Italia.

After a wonderful singing experience in the Theatre of Rieti, JSerra students pose for the camera.

Don't forget the chaperones! 

Hanging at the monastery, about to sing for the friars! 

Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho...

Matching attire...setting the trend!

Ending dinner with a nice view 

JSerra Chamber Singers attend Papal Audience on Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The JSerra Catholic High School Chamber Singers are currently participating in the Papal Audience at the Vatican at 10:30AM on the morning of April 6, 2011.
Papal Audiences are held on Wednesdays if the Pope is in Rome, giving pilgrims and visitors the chance to "see the Pope" and receive the Papal Blessing or Apostolic Blessing from the successor of the Apostle Peter during their visit.
The Audience with the Pope consists of small teachings and readings mainly in Italian but also in English, French, German, Spanish, Polish, Portuguese and sometimes other languages depending on groups visiting.
The Pope will offer a greeting in each language and specially mention any visiting group such as choirs from various countries.
At the completion of the Audience, the Pope will join with the attendees in praying the Lord’s Prayer in Latin.
At the end of the Prayer, as Head of the Catholic Church, he will impart his Apostolic Blessing upon the crowd, which extends to loved ones who are sick and suffering, and also blesses any religious articles such as rosary beads that people have brought with them for the purpose of the blessing.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

JSerra visits and sings at Fonte Colombo near Rieti in Umbria

Fonte Colombo is located around three miles away from Rieti in Umbria. The Franciscan Monastery there is known as the Sinai, where Saint Francis wrote the "Rule" of the Franciscan order. There you truly have a sense of walking in the steps of the Catholic friar and preacher. It marks the place where Saint Francis wrote the Later Rule of 1223, confirmed by Pope Honorius III on 29 November. The name Fonte Colombo derives from the Latin "fons columbarum" (the fountain of doves). Fonte Colombo was consecrated in 1450 by Cardinal Nicolò di Cusa. It is dedicated to St. Francis and St. Bernardine of Siena. The JSerra Catholic HS Chamber Choir is presenting a unique concert here today at 5 pm for the few Franciscan Friars that remain at Fonte Colombo.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Special add-on to the JSerra Catholic HS Choir Tour - Exclusive Recital at Teatro di Rieti

The Theatre Flavio Vespasiano is the main theater of Rieti, a town in the commune of Lazio in central Italy. The current structure dates back to December of 1883 but was not officially inaugurated until September 20, 1893, featuring productions of Goethe’s Faust and Pietro Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana. The theater, named for the Roman Emperor Vespasian, required ten years of construction under the direction of Milanese architect Achille Sfondrini.The theater underwent complete restoration from 2005 through 2009. A grand re-opening celebration commenced on January 10, 2009 featuring conductor Marcello Rota, and soloists Karina Grigoryan, Jessica Pratt, Anna Gorayacheva, and Roman Burdenko. The Secretary to the Prime Minister as well as Senator Franco Marini were in attendance. The restoration efforts totaled more than 3.3 million Euro. 
The reopening of the theater also fostered the formation of the Flavius Vespasian Foundation, aiming to promote international artistry and music. The Rieti Theatre also annually hosts the Rieti Dance Festival, the International Competition for the New Opera Voices of Mattia Battistini, and the National Competition for Young Actors. The theatre is well known for its excellent acoustics, a characteristic that earned the structure the very first National Award for the Acoustics. In referring to the acoustics, Professor Bruno Cagli, president of the National Academy of Saint Cecilia, once called the theatre “the world’s best in that respect”.

Next stop for the travelers from JSerra Catholic High: Assisi

is a town and comune of Italy in province of Perugia, in the Umbria region and on the western flank of Monte Subasio. It was the birthplace of St. Francis, who founded the Franciscan religious order in the town in 1208, and St. Clare (Chiara d'Offreducci), the founder of the Poor Clares. Saint Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows of the 19th century was also born in Assisi.
The Basilica of San Francesco d'Assisi (St. Francis) is a World Heritage Site. The Franciscan monastery, il Sacro Convento, and the lower and upper church of St Francis were begun immediately after his canonization in 1228, and completed in 1253. The lower church has frescos by renowned late-medieval artists Cimabue and Giotto; in the upper church are frescos of scenes in the life of St. Francis previously ascribed to Giotto and now thought to be by artists of the circle of Pietro Cavallini of Rome.

JSerra Catholic High School Chamber Choir performs at Duomo di Siena on Monday, April 4 at 10 AM

On Monday, April 4 at 10 AM the JSerra Catholic High School Chamber Choir from San Juan Capistrano, California, will sing Mass at the Duomo di Siena as part of the group's 2011 Italy Performance Tour and Pilgrimage lead by Father Vincent and choir director Mr. Andrew Alvarez.
The Cathedral of Siena (Italian: Duomo di Siena), dedicated from its earliest days as a Roman Catholic Marian church and now to Santa Maria Assunta (Most Holy Mary of Assumption), is a medieval church in Siena, central Italy. The cathedral itself was originally designed and completed between 1215 and 1263 on the site of an earlier structure. It has the form of a Latin cross with a slightly projecting transept, a dome and a bell tower. The dome rises from an octagonal base with supporting columns. The lantern atop the dome was added by Gian Lorenzo Bernini. The nave is separated from the two aisles by semicircular arches. The exterior and interior are constructed of white and greenish-black marble in alternating stripes, with addition of red marble on the façade. Black and white are the symbolic colors of Siena, etiologically linked to black and white horses of the legendary city's founders, Senius and Aschius.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Impressions from Mass and Concert in Florence at the Church of San Lorenzo

A special visitor joins the JSerra Catholic HS Chamber Choir in Siena this morning

What a wonderful surprise for the students currently touring Italy with the Chamber Choir, their family and friends. Frank Talarico, JSerra Catholic High School President and CEO will be joining the group this morning at the Duomo di Siena. The singers under the direction of Mr. Andrew Alvarez are the featured guest choir for Mass at the stunning cathedral on Monday, April 4 at 10 am.

JSerra in Tuscany

Tuscany is a region in Central Italy. It has an area of 22,990 square kilometres (8,880 sq mi) and a population of about 3.6 million inhabitants. The regional capital is Florence.
Tuscany is known for its beautiful landscapes, its rich artistic legacy and vast influence on high culture. Tuscany is widely regarded as the true birthplace of the Italian Renaissance, and has been home to some of the most influential people in history, such as Petrarch, Dante, Botticelli, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Galileo Galilei, Amerigo Vespucci and Puccini. Due to this, the region has several museums, most of which (such as the Uffizi and the Pitti Palace) are found in Florence, but others in towns and smaller villages. Tuscany has a unique culinary tradition, and is famous for its wines (most famous of which are Chianti, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, Morellino di Scansano and Brunello di Montalcino). Six Tuscan localities have been designated World Heritage Sites: the historical center of Florence (1982), the historical center of Siena (1995), the square of the Cathedral of Pisa (1987), the historical center of San Gimignano (1990), the historical center of Pienza (1996) and the Val d'Orcia (2004). Furthermore, Tuscany has over 120 protected nature reserves. This makes Tuscany and its capital city Florence very popular tourist destinations, attracting millions of tourists every year. Florence itself receives an average of 10 million tourists a year by placing the city as one of the most visited in the world.

JSerra Catholic High School Chamber Choir sings twice at San Lorenzo Church in Florence on Sunday, April 3

Only a day after landing in Italy, the JSerra Catholic High School Chamber Choir will be singing today and not just once, but twice. First, the singers under the direction of Mr. Andrew Alvarez will be the featured guest choir for Mass at the stunning church of San Lorenzo in Florence (starting at 6 pm) and then present along with the La Canada High School Concert Choir and Chamber Singers a feature concert at 7 pm on Sunday, April 3, 2011.
The Basilica di San Lorenzo stands as one of Florence, Italy’s largest churches, situated in the center of the city’s main market district. It is one of several churches claiming to be Florence’s oldest, having been consecrated in the year 393. The Basilica di San Lorenzo served as the city’s cathedral for 300 years until the Bishop’s official seat was moved to Santa Reparata.
In 1419 parishioner Giovanni di Bicci de Medici offered to finance a new church to replace the Romanesque building. Filippo Brunelleschi, the leading Renaissance architect of the first half of the fifteenth century, was commissioned to design the new structure, although the new building did not reach completion until after the architect’s death. The church is part of a larger monastic complex that boasts numerous additional important architectural works including the Laurentian Library by Michelangelo and the New Sacristy based on Michelangelo’s original designs. The sanctuary’s left aisle displays a large fresco by Bronzino depicting the Martyrdom of Saint Lawrence, and the marble choir loft was designed by Donatello, as were the two bronze pulpits.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

JSerra Catholic High School Choir and Family arrived safely in Italy

Just a quick note that the singers under the direction of Mr. Andrew Alvarez, their family and friends, arrived safely in Florence on Saturday, April 2. Incantato Tourmanager Barbara welcomed the group at the airport. She reported: "All are well and even all the luggage made it." Isn#t that great news?

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Three Movies, two Meals and lots of Snacks

We wish all the travelers of the JSerra Catholic High School 2011 Italy Performance Tour a save journey as they embark on Swiss Air from Los Angeles via Zurich to Florence. Swiss (now owned by Lufthansa) is the transportation partner for the group flights. As the students, chaperones, their families and friends cross the ocean overnight from the US to Europe, plenty of movies will be played and the board restaurants will be serving dinner, snacks and breakfast. We wish all of you a very safe and relaxing journey and arriverderci a Firenze - we see you soon in Florence. Your Incantato Tours Team - Barbara (on tour) - Ellen, Marti, Sandra and Ted to name just a few of us ; )

Why less is more when it comes to luggage - detailed information on checked bags and carry

Dear Participants of the 2011 JSerra Catholic High School Italy Performance Tour,
please remember that when traveling in such a large group and on a coach full of fellow travelers, luggage space is limited. As explained during the presentations, we recommend that you bring only what is really necessary, namely 1 checked bag per person.
Here are the checked bag dimensions for Swiss and the weight limit for that one checked suitcase is 44 pounds. Swiss: the permitted size, which is the total of the height, width and length, may not exceed 62.2 inches (158 cm)
In addition, due to limited space on the bus, Incantato Tours allows one small carry-on, ideally a backpack, plus a personal item (small purse, camera bag, laptop bag). Carry-on weight limit from the airlines is 17 pounds (8 kilos) which we advise not to max out again as space on the bus is very limited. Your carry-on items may not be accommodated in the luggage compartment of the coaches, but have to be fit into the overhead compartments on the bus, the seat in front of the travelers or people's laps. We thank you for your understanding and compliance with the above instructions for tour luggage. With such a large group traveling together, we advise again to keep both checked and carry-on luggage to an absolute minimum as that will make everyone's journey easier.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Travel Tips: Know the Weather

In a few days, you'll be on the other side of the world, checking into a hotel in one of the most beautiful areas of Italy. Hard to imagine, isn't it? Facing the unknown is part of what makes travel so exciting. But that doesn't necessarily apply to weather. In the case of climate, it can actually be helpful to have some idea of what to expect where you're going, if only so you can decide which outfits you want to pack closest to the top of your bag.

The good news for you JSerra students is that the weather in the part of Italy you'll be touring isn't that different from San Juan Capistrano. Both areas are considered Mediterranean climates, which means mild, wet winters and dry, warm, sunny summers. You'll notice a lot of the trees, shrubs, flowers, and even the way the clouds hang in the sky look familiar.

The main difference, though, is that the climate where you're headed is slightly more extreme than where you're coming from: a little hotter in the summer and a little colder in the winter. This time of year, Italy will be a tad colder than you're used to - according to forecasts, maybe as much as 10 degrees chillier than San Juan Capistrano. So make sure you pack a light jacket or windbreaker or keep an extra hoodie handy, especially to account for seaside breezes in Amalfi and potential rainfall in Rome. Because there's nothing more annoying than being distracted from a beautiful view by your goose-bumpy arms.

(Bonus tip: Italians use Celsius to measure temperature rather than Fahrenheit. You can use this site to make conversions. Or, for a general sense of the difference, keep in mind that 20 Celsius is about room temperature, 0 is freezing, and 10 is cold enough to need a sweater and a jacket.)

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

New additions to your Incantato Tour Blog!

Dear JSerra travelers,
We have added new important and exciting information to your blog. Please click on the links below to learn more about your upcoming journey. Be sure to check back regularly for further updates and browse the rest of the blog for fun destination information.

Travel information:
Confirmed performance venues:
Hotel accommodations:

Enjoy the JSerra Catholic High School Chamber Choir tour blog? Then become a follower and never miss an update

Dear Members, Family and Friends of the JSerra Catholic High School Chamber Choir, we sure hope you enjoy the blog and recommend that you become a follower by clicking on the respective option in the right side bar of this webpage. As a follower, you will never miss an update and once the group heads over to Europe there should be lots of news coming your way. You can also leave comments which are like virtual greetings. Our tour team will pass those messages to the travelers on tour whenever possible. Everyone at Incantato Tours wishes you well as you prepare for this exciting journey under the leadership of Mr. Andrew M. Alvarez.

Highlights of Bella Italia - Updated Itinerary

Welcome to the Incantato blog for the 2011 JSerra HS Performance Tour to Italy! This is the updated itinerary and still a work in progress. Details are still subject to change as this journey becomes more and more your tour and to enhance the overall experience. Enjoy!

DAY 1 Friday, April 1, 2011
Overnight flight to Italy
SWISS flight LX41 leaves LOS ANGELES (LAX) at 7:25PM.

DAY 2 Saturday, April 2
Arrival & Welcome Dinner
Arrive in ZURICH (ZRH) at 3:45PM. Clear customs and immigration. Your luggage will be checked through. SWISS flight LX1680 leaves ZURICH (ZRH) at 5:45PM and arrives in FLORENCE (FLR) at 7:00PM.
Benvenuti in Bella Italy. After meeting your tour manager, Barbara Holl, transfer to your Florence hotel and enjoy a traditional Italian welcome dinner. The group will be staying in Hotel Leonardo da Vinci on the nights of April 2 and 3.

DAY 3 Sunday, April 3
Florence Visit - Mass & Concert
After breakfast this morning, enjoy a guided city tour including entrance to the Accademia Museum. Lunch at a local restaurant. Afternoon at leisure for exploring and shopping followed by mass participation at San Lorenzo Church and a joint concert with the La Canada High School Concert Choir and Chamber Singers. Stop for ice cream on the way back to the hotel after dinner on your own.

DAY 4 Monday, April 4
Siena & Assisi High Mass
Visit Siena, where the choir will be the featured guests for mass at the Duomo. Then transfer to the hilltop town of Assisi and sing for a special High Mass at Saint Francis Basilica, led by Father Vincent. Transfer to Magliano Sabina for dinner at Hotel La Pergola and overnight. The travelers will stay at either Hotel Pergola or Hotel Sabina for the nights of April 4 and 5.

DAY 5 Tuesday, April 5
Orvieto Excursion or optional trip to Art Monastery & Concert
Depending on today's program, don't forget to pack your concert attire before leaving the hotel this morning. Transfer to Orvieto today for a guided city tour, including the magnificent Duomo. The group may also opt to travel to Labro this morning to visit the Art Monastery for a private tour, pizza-making workshop, lunch, and master classes before continuing to nearby Calvi dell'Umbria for a concert at the Parish Church. The concert is then followed by a special mayor's reception and an exchange with local youth.

DAY 6 Wednesday, April 6
To Rome - Papal Audience & Concert
Travel South to the Eternal city of Rome and attend the general Papal Audience followed by lunch on your own at Piazza Navonna and an afternoon at leisure. The group has the option to attend the La Canada High School Concert Choir and Chamber Singers concert this evening in Rome. The JSerra High School Chamber Choir will stay at the Hotel Casa Domitilla Roma from April 6 through 11.

DAY 7 Thursday, April 7
Rome in-depth
Enjoy a guided sightseeing tour of “Ancient Rome” featuring the Coliseum, Roman Forum, and Domitilla Catacombs. Free time for lunch followed by exclusive JSerra activities with Father Vincent. Dinner in a local restaurant near Piazza Popolo.

DAY 8 Friday, April 8
Vatican City & High Mass

Meet your local guide this morning for a guided tour of the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel. The afternoon is at leisure to grab lunch on your own and tour the Vatican with Father Vincent before preparing for mass participation. Sing High Mass at
Saint Peter's Basilica in the Vatican at 5:00PM. Dinner this evening in a local restaurant.

DAY 9 Saturday, April 9
Sight-seeing & High Mass
Enjoy a day at leisure for sightseeing with Father Vincent. Incantato Tours suggests stopping in the nearby town of Castelgandolfo, where the Pope's summer residence is located. Lunch together with the San Marino Chamber Choir at Agriturismo Iachelli. Sing and participate in Mass at Santa Maria Maggiore Basilica at 6:00PM. Dinner on your own.

DAY 10 Sunday, April 10
La Dolce Vita Romana
Visit former JSerra teacher Mr. Andrew Young this morning at the Pontifical North American College in Rome where you will participate in Sunday Mass and enjoy brunch. The early afternoon is at leisure to explore and grab lunch before likely transferring to the Frascati Region for a special mayor's reception and highlight concert with the San Marino Chamber Choir. A farewell dinner with Roman specialties and live music concludes the tour.

DAY 11 Monday, April 11
Flight to USA
After breakfast, transfer to the airport for your return flight to Los Angeles.
SWISS flight LX1727 leaves ROME (FCO) at 9:35AM and arrives in ZURICH (ZRH) at 11:20AM. SWISS flight LX40 leaves ZURICH (ZRH) at 1:10PM. Arrive in LOS ANGELES (LAX) at 4:40PM.

JSerra Catholic High School 2011 Italy Performance Tour- flight schedule

Those of you who chose the air-land package will be flying the friendly skies on the long-hauls with one of the world's premier airlines, Swiss International Air Lines, on the 2011 JSerra Catholic High School Performance Tour to Italy. For more information on your on-board experience, please visit the Swiss Air website. The Incantato Tours team wishes you a safe and relaxing flight.

Departure to Europe:
Friday, April 1, 2011
SWISS flight LX41, leave LOS ANGELES LAX at 7:25PM
Arrive in ZURICH ZRH at 3:45PM on Saturday, April 2, 2011
SWISS flight LX1680, leave ZURICH ZRH at 5:45PM
Arrive in FLORENCE FLR at 7:00PM

Return to USA:
Monday, April 11, 2011
SWISS flight LX1727, leave ROME FCO at 9:35AM
Arrive in ZURICH ZRH at 11:20AM
SWISS flight LX40, leave ZURICH ZRH at 1:10PM
Arrive in LOS ANGELES LAX at 4:40PM

Travel Insurance

Incantato Tours strongly recommends getting travel insurance for your upcoming journey.
Not only are you covered medically should anything happen when traveling, but with TravelGuard's policies, you also protect your investment should you have to cancel or interrupt the trip. Last but not least, there is also coverage for delayed and lost luggage, etc.
Here is a direct line to purchase travel insurance online, and you can do so with your credit cards and also select the option that is best for you:

In the meantime, have a look at the most comprehensive coverage option The Protect Assist Gold below.

Protect Assist (Gold) -
Comprehensive Travel Protection for the World Traveler
  • Trip Cancellation
  • JUST ADDED! - Trip Cancellation due to employment loss or layoff
    if employed with the same employer 1 year or longer
  • Trip Interruption and Travel Delay
  • Emergency Medical and Emergency Medical Transportation
  • Baggage and Travel Document Protection
  • Baggage Delay and Lost Baggage Tracking
  • NEW - Cancel For Any Reason option now available
  • NEW - Cancel For Work Reasons option now available
  • NEW - Children age 17 and under covered at no additional cost
  • IMPROVED -Trip Cancellation limit increased to $100,000 (from $15,000),
  • IMPROVED - Trip Interruption coverage increased to 150% of Trip Cost
  • IMPROVED - Travel Delay required hours reduced to 5 hours (from 12)

ProtectAssist special features:
  • Best coverage for Weather Related Cancellations
  • Pre-existing Condition Exclusion Waiver*
  • Default/Bankruptcy Protection*
  • $50,000 Flight Accident Insurance*
  • 24-Hour "LiveTravel" Travel Agency
  • Emergency Cash Transfers
  • Identity Theft Restoration

* These additional benefits apply If you are purchasing within 15 days of making your initial trip deposit or payment, however, coverage may still be purchased at any time up to 24 hours prior to departure.
Increase your coverage with these valuable additions to your Protect Assist Plan:
Cancel For Any Reason – 50%
reimbursement of nonrefundable expenses if you cancel your trip for any reason, up to 48 hours prior to your departure. Only available when this plan is purchased within 15 days of initial trip payment.
Cancel For Work Reasons –
Offers additional work-related reasons for cancellation or interruption. Also includes our exclusive “Business Assistant” services if you have work obligations during your travels. Only available when this plan is purchased within 15 days of initial trip payment.
Umbrella Package – Medical Expense limits are doubled and coverage is upgraded to primary. Emergency Medical Transportation limits are doubled and benefits upgraded to take you home or to the hospital of your choice. $25,000 Accidental Death & Dismemberment coverage will be added.

Car Rental Collision Coverage – $35,000 in primary coverage. Covers cost of repairs for covered collision damage to a rental car for which the car rental contract holds you responsible. Subject to $250 deductible.

Optional coverages cannot be purchased separately. Must be purchased with base ProtectAssist plan.

Comprehensive non-insurance travel services* automatically included with plan!With the ProtectAssist plan, every customer also has access to these valuable travel services when they travel:· Arrangements for last-minute flight changes· Hotel finder and reservations· Rental car reservations· Emergency medical assistance· BagTrak® -- lost baggage tracking· Pre-trip health and safety advisories· Live e-mail and phone messaging to family and friends· Cash transfers· Airport transportation· Golf course reservations· Event ticketing· Floral services· Identity Theft restoration
Business Assistant* (available when Optional Cancel for Work Reasons coverage is purchased)

*Non-Insurance services are provided by AIG Travel Assist.

Citizenship: All Nationalities
Residency: United States
New York, Oregon, and Washington residence please call to purchase
Some rider options are not available and other restrictions may apply

Destination: Worldwide
Ages: All Ages
Max Trip Length: 365 Days

Saturday, March 5, 2011

JSerra Catholic High School Chamber Singers performance venue for Monday, April 4 at 4 PM: Saint Francis Basilica in Assisi

The JSerra Catholic High School Chamber Singers will sing High Mass at Saint Francis Basilica in Assisi at 4:00PM on Monday, April 4, 2011 under the direction of Mr. Andrew M. Alvarez.
The Papal Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi, better known as the St. Francis Basilica, is the mother church of the Roman Order of Friars Minor, or the Franciscan Order. Assisi is the birthplace of St. Francis, a Catholic deacon, preacher, and founder of the Franciscan Order. The Catholic Church also recognizes St. Francis as the patron saint of animals, the environment, and one of the two patron saints of Italy along with St. Catherine of Siena. Serving as the final resting place of St. Francis, the Basilica remains one of Italy’s most important destinations of Christian pilgrimage.
Founded in 1228, St. Francis Basilica is built into a hillside and comprises two separate churches known as the upper and lower basilicas and the crypt of the interred saint. The interior of the upper church exemplifies early Gothic architecture, and both churches flaunt intricate frescoes by late medieval painters from the Roman and Tuscan schools. Along with the accompanying friary, the basilica is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and valuable landmark in the Assisi community.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Special Visit: JSerra Catholic High School at the Pontifical North American College in Rome on Sunday, April 10

On Sunday morning, April 10, 2011 the JSerra Catholic High School travelers will enjoy a special visit to the Pontifical North American College in Rome to meet Andrew Young, a former teacher at JSerra and now studying to be a priest in Italy. The travelers get a tour of the College, attend Mass and will have brunch.
The Pontifical North American College is a Roman Catholic educational institution in Rome, educating seminarians for the dioceses in the United States and providing a residence for American priests studying in Rome. It was founded in 1859 by Blessed Pope Pius IX and was granted pontifical status by the Holy See in 1884. The formal incorporated name for the College is The American College of the Roman Catholic Church of the United States. Oversight of the College is given to the Catholic bishops of the United States, as well as the Holy See's Congregation for Catholic Education.

Visit the Art Monastery - fostering creativity through monasticism

The Art Monastery Project, founded in 2007, is a community of artists dedicated to fostering creativity through commitment to a disciplined, contemplative, and sustainable monastic lifestyle.
Established by American, San Francisco-based artists Betsy McCall and Christopher Fülling, the project works to transform an historic Italian monastery into an international arts production center. The project investigates what the Art Monks refer to as “social sculpture,” developing a diverse variety of visual and performance art in a manner which focuses just as much on the creative process as the final product.
In striving to meld historical tradition with contemporary culture, the Art Monastery presents on-site exhibitions and performances as well as collaborations with the surrounding communities. However, work created within the monastery premieres locally before ever touring internationally.
Previously located in the small Italian town of Calvi dell’Umbria, the Art Monastery relocated to the hilltop town of Labro, approximately seventy minutes north east of Rome. The San Antonio monastery, a former 17th century Franciscan abbey, now serves as the official home of the Art Monastery Project. The site holds a state-of-the-art 150 seat theater for performances and exhibits. Hotel Colle di Costa and Ristorante Ulisse are also located within the structure.
A radical contemporary experiment in “social sculpture,” the Art Monastery is “ready to indulge visitors without hesitation…”
In addition to Labro, the Art Monastery hosts chapters in Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, Reno, Bloomington, Chicago, Buffalo, and New York City.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Home away from home: Hotel Leonardo da Vinci, Florence

 The JSerra Catholic High School Chamber Choir performance tour will stay at the Hotel Leonardo da Vinci in Florence on April 2 and 3, 2011. 
Recently renovated and refurbished to enhance character, comfort, and taste, the Hotel Leonardo da Vinci is located in a modern palace bordering Florence’s historical center. All tourist, cultural, and commercial attractions are a brief ten-minute walk away. The hotel's 71 guest rooms come equipped with air conditioning, direct-dial telephone, satellite television, safe, and private bathroom with shower/tub combination.  
Recent reviews note the wonderful condition of the spacious, comfortable and quiet rooms, the convenient location near all the local attractions, and the friendly and helpful staff who all speak English very well. 

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Home away from home: Hotels La Pergola and Sabina, Magliano Sabina

The JSerra Catholic High School Chamber Choir performance tour will be split between Hotel La Pergola and Hotel Sabina in Magliano Sabina on the nights of April 4 and 5, 2011.
One of Incantato's trademarks is to take our groups slightly of the beaten path for a day or two during their performance tours for a full immersion into the country they are visting. When the JSerra Catholic High School Chamber Choir stops for two nights in Umbria en-route from Tuscany to Rome, half of the group will stay at the country hotel "La Pergola" and the other half in the nearby Hotel Sabina, both near the charming hilltop towns of Orvieto and Calvi dell'Umbria. Standard guest rooms in both hotels come equipped with air conditioning, satellite television, telephone, iron and ironing board, and en suite bathrooms with shower/tub combination. Recent reviews complimented both hotels on their helpful service and comfortable accommodations.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Home away from home: Hotel Casa Domitilla, Rome

The JSerra Catholic High School Chamber Choir spend their nights in Rome, April 6 through 11, at the Hotel Casa Domitilla.

Hotel Casa Domitilla was founded by the Congregation of the Brothers of Mercy of Mary Help of Trier, and is open to all guests, both pilgrims and those traveling for business or pleasure. The hotel specializes in offering hospitality and assistance to guests planning their stay in the Eternal City.
Located near the Appian Way, Hotel Casa Domitilla offers double and single rooms in an
ideal location particularly suitable for tourists.
Guest rooms come equipped with satellite television, wireless internet access, hair dryers, and air conditioning. The Hotel Casa Domitilla also offers 24-hour access to their private chapel, as well as a tranquil flower garden.
The hotel’s restaurant offers both international and traditional Italian cuisine.

In recent reviews, guests praised the hotel's impeccably clean guest rooms, quiet and welcoming atmosphere, and friendly and reliable staff. 

Friday, February 25, 2011

Travel Tip: What to pack?

Dear members of the JSerra Catholic High School Chamber Choir, parents and guests,
As your departure for your 2011 performance tour comes closer and closer, Incantato Tours provides you with different travel tips to make it easier for you to get ready for your trip.

For most people, packing for a trip is the most difficult part. The solution for many is to just pack as much as you possibly can into your suitcase and backpack, but as a colleague explains it: "You'll be thanking me later when you don't break your back from having to carry everything on your own. Don't do it!" Her advice: "Pack as lightly as you can. The best way to get it all to fit nicely into your suitcase is to fold it nicely and then roll it tightly. It can all fit into your bag like a puzzle."
Keep in mind, however, that many cathedrals have a dress code and will not allow you to walk in if you are wearing tank tops or shorts. A scarf is a good solution to this code. And shorts should always go to your knees (both for Ladies and Gents).
Here are a few things that we think are essential to have to be comfortable with what the weather brings and with the weight of your bag - remember, we allow only one checked bag per person and a small carry-on such as a back pack or small duffel.

A sample packing list (just a suggestion!)
* Rain jacket, maybe with fleece insert
* Umbrella
* An adapter plug/converter (if bringing electronic devices)
* Camera and batteries or charger with adapter
* At least two pair of jeans/pants, ladies may want to bring a couple skirts or dresses too
* A sweater or two
* Plenty of shirts, including a polo or two, and at least two dress shirts (Europeans dress much more formal than Americans)
* Plenty of undergarments and socks for daily changes
* A watch, make-up and jewelry if applicable (carry on any valuables)
* Choir music and attire
* Don't forget shoes, we recommend a maximum of three pairs (tennis shoes, good everyday shoes, dress shoes). Bring nice concert shoes, but make sure that you will be able to walk long distances in them. Europeans do not wear flip flops other than to the pool or at the beach.
* Put all liquids that are in your carry-on into a zip-lock bag. And remember the 311 rules:
* All scissors, fingernail clippers, etc. are better packed in your check-in luggage along with liquids over 3 ounces. Bring enough contact lens solution and prescription medication that you may need for the whole duration of the trip.

If you forget anything there are plenty of shops where you can by shampoo, toothpaste, etc.

Travel Tip: Money matters

Dear travelers, Money is a delicate subject. The best way to use your money during your upcoming trip is to have a debit card; this allows you to withdraw money from any ATM machine with only being charged a small withdrawal fee. The fee differs between banks. Be sure to call your bank before your departure to tell them where you are going and for how long so they won't freeze your account. Debit cards given by banks have the compatibility of Visa, MasterCard, etc., however Visa is the most widely accepted worldwide. If you bring cash, you can exchange it but you will lose more money as they charge for their services. Most places in Europe won't accept traveler's checks anymore. Also, be prepared to pay for water and a little fee for restroom use. Last but not least, there are no free refills on soft drinks in Europe which is why most Europeans ask for little to no ice in their drinks.
We suggest you have some spending money available and our recommendation is around 20 dollars per day for the meals not included, snacks, drinks, postcards, and some souvenirs. It is not imperative that you have this amount of money. There are many ways to lower your expenses:
· Most restaurants have menus outside so you can check their price range.
· Venture off the main roads to find a restaurant. These usually have more character, better food, and better prices.
· Bring your own water bottle. Most places have safe tap water for refills.
· Buy food from the "convenient" stores. You don't have to sit down in the restaurant for every meal.
· Shop around for souvenirs; many stores have the same things on sale for very different prices.

Last but not least, remember that your Incantato Tour Manager is with you pretty much 24/7. The guide is there to help you make the right choices.

Travel Tip: Socket Adaptors

Dear travelers,
To charge your digital cameras, laptops, etc. in Europe during your Incantato performance tour, you will need an adapter. The U.S. plug (2 or 3 prong here in the U.S.) will not fit in a European socket. In most cases the European socket takes a plug with 2 round prongs.
The adapters allow an U.S. plug to plug in to the back of the adapter and the front of the adapter plugs into the European socket. You'll find adapters at stores like Radio Shack, Walmart or online at

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Incantato Restaurant: Ristró Roma San Pietro, Rome

Mediterranean and regional Italian cuisine awaits the travelers of JSerra High School on April 8 at the Ristró Roma San Pietro in Rome. The air conditioned restaurant is located in the heart of Rome, on the street that connects Castel Sant'Angelo and the Vatican City. In the historic building that houses the Auditorium of the Conciliation, guests are welcomed at any time of the day - from breakfast to dinner. The restaurant is part of the "Ristra Project" that started in 2005, when a small number of employees invented the brand and a new way of mixing gourmet foods, wine, art, music and entertainment.