Monastery. I am sure not many of you have typed that into Google when searching for accommodation in Italy.
Well, 2016 is approaching and you are telling yourself that in the new year, you need to visit Italy – as with all the other 50 million odd other visitors. Whether it’s been on your bucket list since forever or you are a seasoned traveler to ‘The Boot’, you will have a lot of things to think about! ‘Where to Stay’ is one of the fundamentals.
If you have not heard, 2016 in Rome, the Extraordinary Jubilee (Jubilee of Mercy) will start on 8 December and with all the buzz going around in the city, I thought it would be good to write about a certain experience that for me always seemed normal, however, for many visitors seems like something ‘unreal’.
Now, I am sure you have heard many friends, that have either gone and experienced, agriturismi, b&b’s, hotels and possibly living with Italians.
BUT – how many of you have ever thought of staying in a Monastery? Yeap, you read correctly, a Monastery.
I have a feeling that many of you have not even thought that this option was even available!
I personally have had the pleasure of experiencing monastery and convent guesthouses, throughout Italy.
I have had many positive stays and sure there were the ‘particular experiences’ but all in all, they all lead to great stories for family and friends.
While I was raised Roman Catholic, keep in mind that I am not a bible preacher, as you might be imagining, nor is that the type of people that are expected to go. Sure, you will come across a couple of funny people along the way, but the same could be said about shared housing or hostels or even hotels! Us locals use monasteries all the time and I believe that as unique experiences go, this is certainly up there.
Why a Monastery?
Now, doing your research is important because you will find some venues have curfews (after a day of walking around, you will be in your room well before curfew in many situations), many will not have a TV in the room, some are still not offering Wi-Fi, and breakfast is not always included (I find this to be a positive – cappuccino & brioche for 2.00EUR at a nearby ‘bar’ is the real Italian breakfast anyway!).
One thing you can be assured of is: very clean rooms (CHECK); private bathroom (CHECK); good price (CHECK); and most importantly, central locations (CHECK, CHECK!).
The hosts will be happy to see you and while most do not have English speakers on site, I have seen many tourists have a blast using gestures and just chilling with a friendly nun. Or if you are lucky, you come across a local like me that acts as your translator for the day 😉 (that too has happened more often than not!).
So where to find these Monasteries and detailed info on each?
I have used MonasteryStays.com (link) every time! It is reliable, offers detailed information on each guest house and the customer service is outstanding.
You could say that this is the hotel.com or booking.com for monastery accommodations in Italy. I discovered it back in 2008 and while they do charge a booking fee (don’t they all?), I am happy to pay for something when it’s worth it and in all these years, I have had great experiences using the site.
The best part is that you can find a monastery in most regions, from north to south, each offering a unique experience!
I am big on staying in monasteries because I (and many friends) have had some pretty average experiences in hotels, as many of you could relate, and I’m all about ‘off the beaten track’ things to do in Italy – believe me, you will enjoy it more than you think! Oh and relax, you won’t have to go to mass with the Sisters every morning but if you want, at least you have that option 😉
Please note, this is not a paid post, nor is this ‘advertising’. We are highlighting a new way to sleep in Italy and a trusted website, used on various occasions.
MY TOP PICKS:
Casa Per Ferie Istituto Piccole Ancelle Di Cristo Re (CAC109) – Great views, comfortable rooms but what makes this a top pick, is the food the Sisters prepare – Buonissimo and fresh from their garden!
Casa Santa Lucia Filippini (LAR254) – the more expensive option but incredible location, no curfew and all the amenities of a hotel, just run by nuns.
Casa per Ferie Centro Santa Giovanna Antida (LAR150) – midnight curfew, this option is still great for its easy access to metro and it’s on the Vatican side of town. Has been a favorite of friends and family.
Casa per Ferie Regina Del Santo Rosario (TOF132) – centrally located, some rooms with shared bathroom but the Sisters are great. Easy walk to the Duomo and central Florence.
Casa per Ferie Patronato Pio IX (VEV118) – On the quite side of town and the Father there is a great host. Easy access from the airport and cool local restaurants nearby.
Casa Papa Giovanni (UMA121) – Location, the food, the beautiful breakfast room and the frescos throughout the house. Only downer is the 10:30pm curfew but this is a common thing for the venues in Assisi.
Have you been to a Monastery before? What did you love most or least about it? Let us know by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org and will be happy to add your comments to the post!