Cinque Terre – Bocca di Magra
Located in Liguria at the southern end of the Cinque Terre, the Monastery of Santa Croce opens its doors to tourists during the summer months. At most other times the monastery operates as a house of monastic retreat for pilgrims. Run by the Carmelitani Scalzi Fathers the monastery is in a spectacular position on a small hill which leads down to a beach on monastery property. Many of the guestrooms have magnificent views (as in the photo) and most have modern en suite facilities. All meals as well as a take away picnic lunches are available if required. A car is needed to access this monastery which is situated 10 kilometres from the nearest railway station on the Genoa-Rome line.
Photo courtesy Monastery of S. Croce.
Lombardy – Milan
The wonderfully well-located Monastery Hotel is one for the young or the young at heart. The hostel forms part of a lovely convent run by Franciscan Friars and is situated in the centre of the ‘designer fashion’ area of the city. The interior of the hostel has recently been renovated in a modern, contempory style. Guestrooms are equipped with Wi-Fi, air-conditioning and heating, ‘fridge, personal locker and an ensuite bathroom. Ultra-modern dormitory style accommodation is also available and is a cheaper option. Breakfast is included in the price. A kitchen is available for the use of guests and a laundry, mini-market, souvenir shop and a communal lounge with wide-screen TV are a feature. The Monastery Hostel is a 2-minute walk from Milan’s Turati Metro Station
Domus Australia is the latest religious guesthouse to open in Rome and is centrally located not far from Termini Rail Station.Tourists and pilgrims from all over the world are welcome to stay in this totally renovated ex seminary but the centre has a distinctly Aussie flavour having been an initiative of the Catholic Church in Australia. Visitors can choose to stay in single, double and triple guestrooms, all with airconditioning, mini-bar, telephone, TV and Internet access. A hot breakfast is included in the room rate and other facilities include a comfortable lounge room and rooftop bar, lift, chapel and a guest laundry. Rooms are available with wheelchair/disabled access.
© Domus Australia
This lovely guesthouse is located near the Vatican and was established by Carmelite nuns during Rome’s Jubilee Year in 19 . Many of the guestrooms have wonderful views over nearby Castel Sant’ Angelo. Over the years the guesthouse has been renovated and modernised and the well equipped guestrooms are large, most with ensuite bathrooms. Public facilities include indoor and outdoor sitting areas, restaurant, bar, Wi-Fi, 24 hr reception and a rooftop terrace. Restaurants and sidewalk cafes line the nearby Borgo Pio.
Domus Carmelitana is located near the Ponte Umberto I (bridge) which leads to the main central tourist area.
If you are going to Rome and want to stay near the Vatican, the Hotel Domus Aurelia is just a 15 minute walk away. There is also a bus stop nearby. The hotel is owned by the Ursuline Sisters of Sacred Mt. Varello but is run by the Catholic Charismatic religious group, the Community of Emmanuel. The hotel is clean, cheap and well-located with double or twin rooms at less than €40.00 pp per night including breakfast. At certain times of the year discounts apply for stays of more than one night. Undercover parking is available. Pets welcome.
Photo: Breakfast at the Hotel Domus Aurelia – ©Hotel Domus Aurelia
Since the 10th century the building housing the Domus Sessoriana has been part of the (still existing) Monastery of Santa Croce which is occupied by monks of the Cistercian order. The complex is run along hotel lines with rooms ranging from single, double and triple through to spacious suites. Room facilities include TV, Internet connection, mini-bar and air-conditioning. Each guestroom is en suite with hair dryer provided. Some rooms have balconies which overlook ancient Roman ruins and archaeological sites. The hotel is located near the San Giovanni Metro station on Line A and within walking distance of the Colosseum. A (pay) parking area is nearby and a shuttle service operates to and from the airport.
Photo: Guestroom Domus Sessoriana – ©Hotel Sessoriana
Rome – Rocca di Papa
Once a Francisccan monastery, the Villa Palazzola is stunningly located on the slopes of Monte Cavo and overlooks placid, blue Lake Albano. The Pope’s summer residence at Castel Gandolfo can be seen on the opposite side of the lake. The centre is owned and run by the Venerable English College, a Catholic seminary in Rome as a hotel/guesthouse for holidaymakers, pilgrims and for anyone looking for spectacular surroundings in which to rest and relax. Most of the guestooms are equipped with ensuite bathrooms and all meals are available. Groups are welcome as are individuals, couples and families. Ensuite rooms can be had from €68.00 (low season) with all meals (with wine) included. A large swimming pool is located in the grounds.
Rocca di Papa
Convento di Palazzola
Via dei Laghi km 10.800
00040 Rocca di Papa Rome
Tel: +39 (0)6 94 74 91 78
Fax: + 39 (0)6 94 74 91 66
Photos: courtesy Villa Palazzola
Sicily – Cefalù
Cefalu is situated on the northern Sicilian coast between Palermo and Messina. The Sisters of the Collegio di Maria offer hospitality to tourists in a splendidly located guesthouse on the Cefalu beachfront with stunning views over the bay from the windows and balconies of the front facing guestrooms. The accommodation section was once part of a 15th century convent. The rooms are not 5 star but they are comfortably furnished and all have ensuite facilities, heating and air-conditioning. The building has a lift and shops, cafes and waterfront restaurants are just steps away. The sisters offer single through to quadruple rooms and a 6-10 bed apartment is also available. A double room is approximately €45 per person per night in high season.
Photo: View from the Convento di Cefalù – © Collegio di Maria, Cefalù
Sicily – Palermo
The Sisters of the Collegio di Maria have another guesthouse in Palermo. ‘Homely’ would best describe the guestrooms here but they do have the basic comforts and are simply furnished. Single and double guestrooms are available and all have an ensuite bathroom. Some guestrooms are air-conditioned and have views over the town, the centre of which is just a few minutes on foot. The building has a lift and rooms are a couple of euros cheaper than those at the convent in Cefalù.
Photo: Guestroom Collegio di Maria, Palermo – © Collegio di Maria, Palermo.
Sicily – Palermo
The sisters run another guesthouse in Palermo which is situated in the historical centre, near the Duomo di Palermo, the town’s cathedral. The guestrooms here are all ensuite with heating and air-conditioning. Views and private car parking are included in the price of approximately €45 per person, per night for a twin/double room. Sometimes it may be difficult to secure accommodation in this particular guesthouse as rooms here are often taken up by university students.
Photo: Duomo di Palermo – © ENIT Italian Govt.Tourist Board. www.enit.it
Tuscany – Florence
The convent guesthouse is run by the Oblate Sisters of the Holy Spirit and is open to students for most of the year. However, during August and September when the students are on holiday, the sisters accommodate tourists. A number of twin, triple and family rooms, all with private bathroom facilities are available. No meals are served but the convent is in a busy area not far from the Santa Maria Novella train station and with numerous restaurants and cafes outside the door.
Istituto Santa Zita
Via Nazionale, 8
Tel: +39 (0)55 2398 202
Photo: Santa Zita – Trish Clark
Tuscany – Florence
The Sanctuary B & B is in the heart of Florence (near the Duomo) and is run by an order of Catholic nuns, the Suore Oblate dell’Assunzione. The location is ideal for exploring the tourist sites of Florence on foot.
The convent building is a former 15th century palazzo and recently the ‘hotel’ has undergone a substantial facelift and the facilites for guests have been upgraded. Rooms with ensuite bathroom are available and cheaper rooms are offered on a share bathroom basis. The spotlessly clean guestrooms are roomy and well furnished and noise is not a problem as the street has recently undergone traffic restrictions. Guests will be pleasantly surprised by the large private garden to the rear of the building. Breakfast is served daily and facilities include elevator, internet kiosk and air conditioning in all rooms. Shops and restaurants are close by. Like many similar establishments religion isn’t spruiked here. However, guests are welcome to join the sisters in daily Mass if they so wish. The Sanctuary B & B is a comfortable, inexpensive base in Florence and with a brand new website up and running, bookings can be made online.
Tuscany – San Gimignano
Located in the medieval walled hill-town of San Gimignano, the San Girolamo monastery guesthouse is run by an hospitable group of Benedictine Sisters who offer simple, clean and well-located accommodation in guestrooms suitable for up to5 people. Most guestrooms have ensuite facilities and breakfast is available. The sisters run programs of spiritual retreats but tourists and travellers keen to explore the surrounding area are welcome for overnight stays and are free to come and go as they please whilst bearing in mind that the monastery is foremost a place of prayer and retreat.
Monastero di San Girolamo
Vallombrosa Benedictine Nuns
Via Folgore, 30
53037 San Gimignano (Si)
Tel: +39 (0)577 940 573
Fax: +39 (0)577 940 573
Photo: Single guestroom Monastero di San Girolamo – © Vallombrosa Benedictine Nuns.
Umbria – Perugia – Assisi
The kind and congenial Franciscan Sisters of Atonement run a delightful guesthouse attached to their convent in Assisi. St Anthony’s has been a welcoming home away from home for tourists and pilgrims from all over the world for many years. The rooms here are small, clean and comfy, all with ensuites and the Franciscan hospitality can only be called 5 star. Some guestrooms have a tiny balcony with views over the town. English and Italian are both spoken. Breakfast is available. Very, very popular, so book early. The Franciscan Sisters of Atonement (Graymoor Sisters) are based in Garrison in New York and in Washington DC. In the generous spirit of Franciscan hospitality, both these houses welcome overnight guests for spiritual retreats. Have a look at www.graymoor.org
St. Anthony’s Guest House
Franciscan Sisters of the Atonement
Via Galeazzo Alessi, 10
Tel: +39 (0)75 812 542
Fax: +39 (0)75 813 723
Photo: St Anthony’s Guesthouse
Veneto – Venice
This inexpensive convent guesthouse is run by the Catholic order of the Daughters of St Joseph and is well situated for exploring the sights and sounds of Venice. The sisters offer inexpensive accommodation in a prime location near the Piazza San Marco and the famous Basilica and close to the Rialto vaporetto stop.
The guestrooms are modestly furnished, clean and with en suite bathrooms. The complex is air conditioned and a 2230 curfew applies. No meals are available but cafes and restaurants are steps away. The sisters don’t speak much English so a faxed reservation using the free language translators on the internet is probably the best way to make a booking, if the language is a problem.
Istituto San Giuseppe
Ponte della Guerra
Tel: +39 (0)41 522 53 52 or 522 48 91
Fax: +39 (0)41 522 48 91
Photo: Istituto San Giuseppe – Ian Waters