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.