My Monastery Stays in Italy
by Debbie Wehking
View From My Room in Venice
The last time I was in Italy, in 2011, I stayed in four different monasteries. I loved all of them. One was in Venice - my room overlooked a lovely canal, and was a 10 minute walk to the boats of the Grand Canal. I learned that I was expected to leave my room key hanging in the lobby when I was out - that's how they know it's OK to close up at curfew (11:00 P.M). If all the keys are gone, then everyone must be in for the night.
The next one was in Monterossa al Mare in Cinque Terre. The room was bigger than the other places I stayed - almost like a hotel room. It was in a separate building and opened to the outside, so there was no curfew. I still had a lovely view overlooking a hill and the water in the distance. It was within walking distance of the train, but I used a taxi to get there since it was almost at the top of the hill. To walk downhill into town, I was shown how to take a charming stairway that meandered through neighborhood backyards as I made my way down the hill.
The third one was in Assisi. Oh my goodness, what a find! Just up the hill a little ways from the Basilica of St. Francis, the accommodations were modern, the food was excellent (not only breakfast, but dinner too), and the building I was staying in connected with a beautiful stone chapel that was built about the year 1000. So special!
The last one was in Rome, within walking distance of the Vatican. It lacked the views of the others, but was quiet and pleasant.
In all four places the people were warm and welcoming. These wonderful accommodations were a large part of what made my trip special.
I spent a little extra because I booked them through an organization called Monastery Stays. You can find them online. You use the internet to look at hundreds of monasteries available throughout Italy. Then you create your travel plan online and submit it to Monastery Stays. They communicate with the monastery for you. They have the advantage of being in the same time zone and speaking Italian. Once your reservations are confirmed, they email you a confirmation letter. I received one letter for each place I was staying. It was addressed to the monastery, stating I had a reservation for such and such a date, and such and such type of room, for a specific price. Here's the best part - it was written in both Italian and English, so there was no misunderstanding. Often there will be someone at the monastery who speaks English, but not always.
I highly recommend Monastery Stays. Wish I could find something comparable in other countries. Can't wait to do it again!