Convents and Monasteries in Italy
With the euro strong against the dollar, finding a clean, safe, and cheap place to stay is getting more challenging, especially if you want to stay in the center of a major European city. Fortunately, budget-minded travelers to Italy have thousands of such rooms to choose from.
Convents and monasteries abound in Italy, and the budgets required to maintain such large establishments are inversely proportionate to the number of men and women choosing to enter holy orders. Enterprising monks and nuns have solved this problem in a way that benefits both the religious community and the budget-minded tourist—by opening their doors to paying guests.
Dozens of convents and monasteries throughout Italy are listed in Bed and Blessings Italy: A Guide to Convents and Monasteries Available for Overnight Lodging, written by the mother-daughter team of June and Anne Walsh . The descriptions are by region and include contact information and times of operation. Many operate during only part of the year, generally Easter through the late fall. Some have curfews. Only rarely do they accept credit cards. English is not always spoken (although Latin probably is).
But what bargains they offer in exchange for these minor inconveniences. I stayed at the Villa Maria Elizabeth on Lake Garda—playground of the rich and famous. Expansive grounds in a park-like setting were lavishly planted with flowers. The room was simple but clean and the bed was comfortable. A blissful calm pervaded the entire site. The price included a hearty breakfast and dinner in the dining room where I was served by smiling nuns. The price for this slice of heaven on earth was a mere 40 Euros each night—and this is one of the more expensive properties features in Bed and Blessings. I wanted to retire on the spot so I could just stay until the end of my days. The financial advantages of staying at the Villa were surpassed only by the peace and beauty it offered. Staying anywhere else would be a sin.
Booking ahead is recommended, but easier said than done. I wrote to four convents and monasteries, using the Italian phrases in the back of the book. Only one responded. In Italian of course.
For more information on monasteries and convents throughout Italy see those listed by InItaly Online:
Patricia Gilbert traveled to Italy with her daughter and husband.