Accommodations at
Convents & Monasteries in Italy

Ever since the Roman Empire condemned Christ's early followers as criminals and outlaws, devout Christians have considered it their duty to offer shelter to friends and strangers alike. For literally two millennia, the monasteries and convents of Italy, some of which were actually founded by saints, have been opening their doors, providing a bed and a piece of bread to anyone who knocked. Many of these petitioners were pilgrims, but no one ever asked them to state their religion. They were required only to respect the atmosphere of the monastery and obey its simple rules.
This tradition is very much alive today. Hundreds of convents offer hospitality in the cities, but mostly to university students (who have not acquired the American habit of sharing apartments with their friends). All over the countryside, usually in the most beautiful, pristine and panoramic locations, you will find ancient and modern foresterie (guesthouses) that fill with lively church groups on weekends and holidays and empty out to offer heavenly solitude during the week. Occasionally these facilities are managed my monks or nuns, but as their numbers dwindle rapidly (many monasteries are now home to less than a handful of monks), that is becoming more and more unusual. Nowadays you're more likely to find that your hosts are laymen, volunteers, professional cleaning services and caterers. A few of the hermitages founded personally by St. Francis are now being managed most ardently and joyously by tiny communities of reformed drug addicts.
If you are planning to stay in a monastery or convent, it's a good idea to be aware of the general "routine." First of all, if the casa religiosa you have your eye on does not have a structure called a foresteria, you will need a letter of introduction (or better yet, a telephone call) from your parish priest. Unless the rooms or celle are already all taken, you will be graciously received – in a convent if you're a woman and in a monastery if you're a man. Couples should not always expect to find double beds or even to sleep in the same room, although in recent years these rules are being relaxed a bit, especially in the "tourist"-oriented establishments which are more like hotels. Families are welcome in the foresterie, where they are usually assigned a separate room or rooms. Everyone is subject to the rhythms of the house: there is almost always an evening curfew, and meals are served exactly on time with no exceptions.

The ideal sojourn is one week; shorter stays can be arranged but it is highly unlikely you'll be accepted for less than three nights. Many foresterie are closed during the winter because they are unheated; these re-open at Easter. Inversely, those located in beautiful countryside are extremely popular in the summer months. The best time to enjoy the monastic experience (like almost every other experience in Italy, for that matter) is in spring or fall.
Except at the "hotel-convents," you will not be presented with a bill when you check out. A donation is customary. It can range anywhere from 10 to 25 Euro/person/day depending on the type of facilities and whether you eat any meals. One thing to bear in mind is that as church attendance has dipped radically, hospitality has become the main source of income for many religious orders. In this sense, no donation will ever be considered too generous. Still, as desperately as the donation may be needed, it is always secondary to the main goal of religious hospitality: providing a tranquil haven where today's world-weary souls can in turn become a receptacle for true Christian spirituality. In this issue we offer you a wide range of opportunities to join the countless pilgrims who have tried this experience through the ages. Our newsletter issue offers a few illustrious examples of monasteries, as well as a long list of the places where you can sleep. Throughout, you will find general instructions, which we urge you to read and follow to make the most of your experience.

The Abbey Of Monte Oliveto Maggiore
Historically, monasteries and convents have been places of refuge in Italy. They offered asylum for all peoples, from humble pilgrims to the popes and princes of the Italian and European states. Even during times of war, they gave sanctuary to those who had been turned away and ignored by the rest of the world. Today they offer hospitality for all who wish to experience the monastic way of life and perhaps explore the paths of spiritual awakening.
One of the main ways that monasteries and convents have been able to keep themselves financially stable is by opening their doors to tourists weary of the beaten path, tired of continuously moving about in unknown surroundings. Perhaps one of the reasons travelers find these quiet surroundings so appealing is because of the strong monastic belief that all who knock on the door should be treated as if they were Christ himself, so that the respectful traveler knows he is likely to find safe and comforting surroundings.
This overwhelming feeling of asylum from our fast-paced world is often reinforced by the panoramic settings of the monasteries. One such complex is the Abbey of Monte Oliveto Maggiore. Located about 30 km from Siena, it is a lush oasis in the midst of a barren, often bleak region. As you approach this island of green, you have a good chance of glimpsing a stunning sight: the white habits of the monks as they stroll in meditation among the ancient cypress and fir trees.
This is a Benedictine monastery, founded by Bernardo Tolomei in the 14th century. Very little, if next to nothing, remains of the original structure. The abbey itself is Gothic in style and built using the terra-cotta-colored bricks that are typical of southeastern Tuscany. There are several Monte Oliveto abbeys in Italy, notably in Naples, Florence and San Gimignano, but this is the most illustrious, so it bears the title Maggiore (most important). Many monks receive their training and instruction here, after which they are sent to another Monte Oliveto to teach, pray, and live out their monastic life.
Monte Oliveto Maggiore is also rich in art and culture, and houses an amazing library as well as some exquisite art works. Among the highlights of the Abbey are the fresco cycles of St. Benedict's life, painted by Luca Signorelli and Antonio Bazzi or "Sodoma" in 1498 and 1520. The church itself is mostly 17th century in style, and has choir stalls that are noted for their exceptional inlaid wood. The monks eat in a 17th-century refectory covered with glorious frescoes. The humble men produce liqueurs and remedies based on herbs, honey, and olive oil and displayed in their ancient pharmacy along with an exceptional collection of vases. They are also famous for their restoration of antique books: the library contains over 40,000 priceless volumes.
During most of the year, visitors are usually guided by a monk through the church. However, during high season, when the church is filled with throngs of visitors, one is more likely to be left to one's own devices. Those who wish to experience the monastic type of inward reflection are invited to stay in the guest quarters, open from Easter through to October. They vary in size, from single to triple rooms. It is even possible to integrate further into the monastic life by staying in a cella, a small room with a cot and washbasin. There the visitor can pray at dawn, have silent meals, and join in chant with the monks. (Permission must be requested of the Abbey, and is usually given only to men who are presented by their church.)

In our turbulent times, many people are in quest of spiritual enlightenment. Whether you take a day trip to visit the grounds or choose to stay on and pray with the monks, monasteries such as the Abbey of Monte Oliveto Maggiore make a perfect spot to find refuge for introspection.

Jacqueline Gomperts, Los Angeles

Monte Oliveto Maggiore: The Facts

The monastery is south of Siena, on route 451 between Buonconvento and Asciano. Its foresteria (guesthouse) has 20 single rooms and 10 doubles with private bathrooms. There is no meal service, although there is a privately-owned restaurant on the property. Closed in winter. For details and reservations, visit their website.

Get Thee To A Nunnery

An alternative form of lodging in Rome, hailing back to a tradition which far outdates the modern concept of 3-, 4- or 5-star hotels, is available. Religious orders have been putting up pilgrims (forerunners to present day tourists) to the Holy City in their monasteries or guesthouses for centuries. One will find neither porters to carry the bags, room service nor, in many cases, even an elevator on the premises. On the other hand, one can stay in a place that is quiet, clean, often in a charming setting and generally much, much cheaper than anything comparable to be found in a traditional hotel.

There are, however, several important conditions which one should keep in mind when considering this form of lodging. A curfew is a rule rather than an exception. One is expected to be back by a certain hour, usually around 11 p.m. but sometimes a bit later. Only a few of these institutions give the guests a key to the front door. The life of a convent or monastery has a certain rhythm which must be maintained and the nuns or lay people cannot be up until all hours of the night waiting for guests to come straggling in, nor be disturbed by noisy late-night revelers. There is also another reason why they do not give their guests a front-door key. Almost every one of these institutions makes it a point to emphasize that hospitality is offered to visitors for ecumenical reasons, not for profit but to provide a serene, harmonious and friendly atmosphere in which one can relax, reflect, and, if so inclined, discuss and exchanges ideas with one's hosts. Opening the door, handing over the key with a friendly "good evening" and the like are little ways that establish contact between host and guest and are conducive to developing conversation.
Another important feature of these institutes is the presence of a chapel available for anyone who wishes to make use of it. Obviously, no one is forced to take part in religious services or even discuss his or her beliefs if they do not so desire, but the religious orders running these institutions like to make a place of worship available, perhaps their own chapel or a connecting church, for the guests. Some of these convent-run guesthouses also have wonderfully tranquil, green-filled courtyards (perhaps ex-cloisters) where the guests can sit and commune with nature, plan their day, daydream or whatever.
Room furnishing varies from place to place but, except for the rare exception, it is rather basic. Most, but not all, have rooms with their own bathroom. None of them have televisions in the room but a TV can usually be found in a common room. Some have telephones in the rooms, sometimes only to receive incoming calls, and some do not. Air-conditioning is a rarity; this should be kept in mind particularly when booking for summer months. All of them have heating and they all include breakfast in the cost of the room. It is, however, usually served rather early. Do not expect to saunter down for brunch at a quarter to 10 because in the kitchen they are probably already beginning to prepare lunch. Many of the guesthouses provide half board (breakfast and lunch or dinner) or full board (breakfast, lunch and dinner), which can be decided on a day-to-day basis. The food is usually delicious, plentiful (a pasta first course, meat and vegetable second course followed by fruit or dessert) and offered for a price which is infinitely cheaper than anything of comparable quality (quite high) that one could find outside. Wine and coffee are also usually available for an extra charge. The only possible disadvantage with convent dining is that mealtime is usually early. Dinner is often served at 7:30, which is early by Roman standards but perhaps perfect for American habits. Rooms that look onto the inner courtyard, just like in the majority of Italian hotels, are generally better than those that face out. They may have a beautiful view and are decidedly quieter. Families with children are welcome. If none of the above conditions create problems for your particular life style, a convent may be the place for you (for a few days at least).

A recent survey indicated that religious institutes in Rome have about 14,000 beds available for tourists and pilgrim visitors. Most of the larger religious institutions that let rooms are located on the outskirts of the city or clustered in areas behind the Vatican. They are however a number of smaller ones tucked away here and there throughout the historic center. Some of them are in surprisingly central locations – little oases of quiet and calm in the midst of the metropolitan hustle and bustle. Four of the latter are described below. They vary in style from exceedingly Spartan lodgings in which bathrooms are shared to almost deluxe accommodations. They adequately represent the entire gamut. Obviously prices (just like for hotels) vary depending on what is offered.

Fraterna Domus is in the very heart of downtown Rome, a short distance from the Spanish Steps and the Pantheon. It is run by the Volontari del Servizio Sociale Cristiano (Volunteers of Christian Social Service), an Italian order. The sister that I met was extremely friendly and simpatica. The "domus" has 18 rooms distributed over 3 floors. There are no elevators and, as the building dates from the 13th century, the stairwells are somewhat narrow (hint: do not come with several enormous suitcases which you will have to carry upstairs yourself). All the rooms have private bathrooms with either a tub or shower. Everything is spotless and appears to have been recently renovated. There are no televisions nor phones in the rooms but there are two public phones (phone cards necessary) on the premises. Besides breakfast, lunch and dinner are also served, usually at 1:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. respectively, in the two dining areas. Curfew is 11 p.m. The guesthouse is right next door to a lovely little church called S. Lucia della Tinta (open on Sunday mornings and on request).

The Casa di Santa Brigida is probably one of the best-known guesthouses run by a religious order. The location is right off of the famous Piazza Farnese in the historical center of Rome, a few minutes walk from St. Peter's Basilica, Piazza Navona and the Pantheon. The building originally dates from the 1300's and includes the three rooms where St. Bridget lived and where she died in 1373. A sculpture of The Ecstasy of St. Bridget by Gian Lorenzo Bernini is housed in one of them along with various other works of art and artifacts relating to the saint. There are 23 guestrooms, all on the 2nd and 3rd floors, and all have private baths and phones. They are quite spacious compared to many others and very well appointed. There is an elevator, sitting room on the ground floor, small TV in a common room upstairs, a beautiful and well-furnished library (divided into sections by language) and a lovely roof terrace (with table and chairs set out in good weather), which affords a breathtaking view of the Piazza. There is no air-conditioning for the moment but there may be soon. Guests receive their own key to the front door and there is no curfew. On arrival day, however, they must arrive by 8 p.m. Meals are served in the dining room on the ground floor. Breakfast is between 7 and 9 a.m. Lunch and dinner are served at 1 and 7:30. Lunch and dinner are optional for individual guests but groups must take half board. The guesthouse is right next door to the lovely little church dedicated to St. Bridget, Sweden's patron saint. Every afternoon at 4:30 the sisters from the convent sing Vespers in the church from a hidden adjacent chamber: a delightful surprise. The sisters speak excellent English.

The Casa di Santa Francesca Romana in the center of the very popular Trastevere area now belongs to Vicariate of Rome, but it was once the property of the noble Ponziani family which the saint married into. She lived in this house for 40 years and died here on March 9, 1440. There are 36 guestrooms in the three-story building. Everything is extremely well kept and the people at the front desk are very helpful and friendly. The 3rd floor has recently been completely redone and has air conditioning. All rooms have private bathroom and telephone. Telephone charges here (as in the other guesthouses which provide phones in the room) are obviously extra. Rooms range in size from singles to 5 beds to a room, with all those on the 2nd floor having single beds. There is a charming courtyard which is a nice place to sit out in good weather. The building is also furnished with a chapel, an elevator, a TV in one of the common rooms and several sitting rooms. Guest have their own key to the front door; however, they must be back by 1 a.m. when it is locked. No other meal except breakfast is served in the dining room on the ground floor off the courtyard.

The last of our four guesthouses is in Trastevere as well, on a lovely tree-lined street just across from the Botanical Gardens. As it is on a side street and surrounded by gardens, the guesthouse is extremely quiet. It is called the Centro Diffusione Spiritualità and is staffed by very friendly lay pro sanctite volunteers. It is the most spartan of the four but also the most inexpensive. Furnishings are very basic. There are 60 beds in all, mostly singles and doubles with two triples. The guest rooms are located on the 2nd and 3rd floors only and there is no elevator. None of the rooms have private bathrooms nor phones. There are phones placed in the corridor, a wonderfully green courtyard (filled with trees and flowers), a pretty chapel near the entrance, a dining room and very small common sitting room with a TV. Guests do not receive a key and curfew is at 11 p.m. Breakfast is served at 8, lunch at 1:00 and dinner at 7:30.

One last comment: it is a good idea to book all of the above guesthouses as early in advance as possible. They cater to both individual and group travelers and have a vast number of fond clients who come back year after year, so they tend to get booked early. English is generally spoken but some speak it better than others, therefore it is probably wiser to send an email or fax when making a reservation rather than calling on the phone – the written word is easier to understand than a strange voice on the phone.

Michael Brouse, Rome

Fraterna Domus
Via Monte Brianzo 62, 00186 Roma
Tel. 39-06-6880-2727, email, fax 683-2691
Web site; Email:
44-74 Euro/night (both prices include breakfast). Meals (lunch and dinner) are extra.

Casa di Santa Brigida
Piazza Farnese 96, 00186 Roma
Tel. 39-06-6889-2596 or 6889-2497, fax 6882-1926
Web site; Email:
95 Euro/night for a single room, 170 Euro/night for a double room (both prices include breakfast). Meals (lunch and dinner) cost extra.

Casa di Santa Francesca Romana
Via dei Vascellari, 61, 00153 Roma
Tel./Fax: 39-06-581-2125 or 588-2408
From 72 Euro/night for a single room to 190 Euro/night for a quadruple room.

Centro Diffusione Spiritualità
Via dei Riari, 43/44, 00165 Roma
Tel. 39-06-6880-6122 or 686-1296, fax 6830-7975
31 Euro/night for a single room, 42 Euro/night for a double room. Meals cost 11 Euro extra.

Many More Convents In Rome

Near St. Peter's and the Vatican

Casa Beata Margherita Caini
Via Fabio Massimo 26, 00192 Roma
Tel. 39-06-324-2984, fax 324-2914
Very near St. Peter's
Elevator; no English spoken
Curfew: 10 p.m.
Web site; Email: 
Singles, doubles and triples, all with private bathrooms, some with telephone.

Casa Mater Immacolata
Via Monte del Gallo 38, 00165 Roma
Tel. 39-06-630-863
Up the hill from St. Peter's
Villa with quiet central garden; recently remodeled; no English spoken. Closed in January
24 singles and doubles, all with private bathroom.

Casa Mater Ecclesiae
Via Monte del Gallo 25A, 00165 Roma
Tel. 39-06-637-4653
Up the hill from St. Peter's
Elevator, some rooms have balconies with view of the Basilica; no English spoken
Curfew: 11 p.m.
Singles, doubles and triples, all with private bathrooms, full board available sometimes.

Casa Nostra Signora dell'Atonement
Via Monte del Gallo 105, 00165 Roma
Tel. 39-06-630-782, fax 638-6149
Up the hill from St. Peter's
Garden terrace, TV room, snack machine, washer and dryer, parking, elevator; English spoken
Curfew: 11 p.m.; closed December 22-January 7
20 singles, doubles and triples, all with private bathroom, including breakfast; half or full board is available.

Casa Tra Noi
Via Monte del Gallo 113, 00165 Roma
Tel. 39-06-3938-7355, fax 3938-7446
Web site; Email:
Up the hill from St. Peter's
Well-managed, parking, elevator, TV room, restaurant, bar
Singles, doubles and triples, all with private bathroom, full and half board on request.

Casa per Ferie Santa Maria alle Fornaci
Piazza Santa Maria alle Fornaci 27, 00165 Roma
Tel. 39-06-3936-7632, fax 3936-6795
Web site
Up the hill from St. Peter's
Founded in 1198; elevator, TV room; English spoken
Singles, doubles and triples, all with private bathroom and telephone.

In the Historical Center

Istituto Santa Giuliana Falconieri
Via Calasanzio 1, 00186 Roma
Tel. 39-06-6880-3344, fax 687-1471
Near Piazza Navona and the Pantheon
Former aristocratic palazzo; elevator, TV room, English spoken
Curfew: 11 p.m. (11:30 on Friday and Saturday); closed in August
Singles, doubles and triples with telephones, most with private bathrooms.

Suore di Nostra Signora del Buon Soccorso
Via degli Artisti 38, 00187 Roma
Tel. 39-06-488-5259
Near the Spanish Steps
Elevator; some English spoken
Singles and doubles, all with private bathroom

Nostra Signora di Lourdes
Via Sistina 113, 00187 Roma
Tel. 39-06-474-5324, fax 474-1422
Atop the Spanish Steps
Rooftop terrace, elevator, TV room; limited English spoken
Curfew: 10:30 p.m.
Singles, doubles and triples, most with private modern bathroom

Casa Il Rosario
Via Sant'Agata dei Goti 10, 00184 Roma
Tel. 39-06-679-2346, fax 6994-1106
Near the Coliseum
Nice roof garden, elevator and TV room; some English
Curfew: 11:15 p.m.
Singles, doubles and triples, all with private bathrooms

Casa Soggiorno Sant'Elisabetta
Via dell'Olmata 9, 00184 Roma
Tel. 39-06-488-5229, fax 488-4066
Near Santa Maria Maggiore
Recently renovated; elevator; English spoken
35 singles, doubles and triples, all with private bathroom

Suore del Buon Salvatore
Via Leopardi 17, 00185 Roma
Tel. 39-06-446-7147, fax 446-1382
Between Santa Maria Maggiore and the Coliseum
Garden, elevator; English spoken
Curfew: 10 p.m.; closed in August
Singles, doubles and triples, all with private bathroom and some with balcony

San Giuseppe di Cluny
Via Angelo Poliziano 38, 00184 Roma
Tel. 39-06-487-2837, fax 487-2838
Between Santa Maria Maggiore and the Coliseum
Garden, parking, elevator, TV room; English spoken
Curfew: 10 p.m.; 10:30 in summer
Singles, doubles and triples, some with private bathroom

Other locations

Villa Rosa
Via delle Terme Diocleziane 5, 00153 Roma
Tel. 39-06-574-3793, fax 574-5275
On the Aventine Hill, above the Circus Maximus
Garden terrace with views of Rome; parking, elevator, TV room; English spoken
Closed at Christmas and in August
Singles, doubles and triples, all with private bathroom

Casa Domitilla
Via delle Sette Chiese 280, 00147 Roma
Tel. 39-06-513-3956, fax 513-5461
Near the Ancient Appian Way and Catacombs, with good bus access to the center
Parking, elevator, TV room, restaurant, bar; English spoken
Web site; Email:
Singles and doubles, all with private bathroom and telephone

Casa per Ferie Madre Maria Eugenia
Viale Romania 32, 00197 Roma
Tel. 39-06-8448-2300, fax 8448-2302
In Parioli, 20-minutes by bus to the Spanish Steps
In a large park with security gate; parking, elevator, snack machines, some English spoken
58 singles, doubles and triples, all with private bathroom and telephone; breakfast costs $1.50; full board and bag lunch on request

Villa Lituania
Piazza Aste 25, 00182 Roma
Tel. 39-06-701-7467, fax 701-7468
Web site; Email:
In the Appio Nuovo district; take the subway to the center
Parking, elevator, bar; English spoken
Curfew: 11 p.m.
57 singles, doubles and triples, all with private bathroom and telephone; board on request.

A Cistercian Abbey In Latium

Whenever I visit my family in Isola di Liri, about halfway between Rome and Naples, I always make a trip to the abbey in Veroli called Casamari. This name is probably Latin for the very mundane "Mario's house," because a Roman consul called Caio Mario once built his villa on this spot. By 1036 it had become a Benedictine abbey, which passed to the Cistercians in 1152. Perhaps because it has always been a very powerful religious center, it has remained one of the few perfect examples of Cistercian-Gothic architecture found in central Italy. It has functioned continuously for 900 years with the exception of one very brief period. The monastery has farmland, a printing press, a distillery, and a laboratory to make chocolate. Luckily for visitors, the monks still sell their exquisite liqueurs and chocolates. There is a small museum on the premises, with works by Caracci, Guercino, Solimena and students of Caravaggio and Raphael, and the building also houses a theological institute. Even if you are not a religious person, I really recommend you come here for the beautiful architecture of the monastery.

The abbey, which was rebuilt in the 18th century, features intense vertical lines, high pointed arches and simple stone walls, perfectly exemplifying the medieval period. As you walk towards the abbey you pass under the Gothic arches into a large stone square in front of the church. The walls enclose you and focus your eyes directly forward onto the church (not onto the cemetery, which is to the left). Inside, you immediately notice the simplicity of the architecture and the almost total lack of ornate decoration. The stained-glass windows are so old that the colors seem to bleed into each other, making one realize the age of this structure. It's not hard at all to conjure up the image of people visiting this church in the twelfth century. You can almost hear the Gregorian chant music in the background: it would have been performed in the beautiful wooden choir stall that took one man sixteen years to carve.

After you walk through the church, take a stroll through the gardens, which are enclosed in a courtyard. The colors of the flowers stand out against the beige stone walls. Sometimes if you are there at the right time, the monks are willing to give you a tour throughout the rest of the buildings.

It is possible to spend the night at the monastery, if you write ahead very far in advance. There are four single rooms with private bathrooms, six single and six double rooms that share bathrooms, and a dorm for groups. Meals are also available. There is no fixed cost; you make a donation to the abbey. In surroundings like these, it shouldn't be hard to enjoy the experience of staying at a monastery while traveling through Italy!

Cynthia Lambakis, Los Angeles

Abbazia di Casamari
Monaci Cistercensi di Casamari
Loc. Casamari, 03020 Veroli (FR)
Tel. 39-0775-282-371, 282-800, fax 283-430
Visit their web site here.

If you are planning a visit to Italy, you will find pictures, descriptions and prices for all our accommodations in apartments, hotels, B&Bs and countryside villas on this web page.

More monasteries in Latium.

Here is a very partial list of monasteries and convents with accommodations that should be suitable to most American travelers. Unless otherwise noted, all offer breakfast included in the price.


Casa San Domenico
Via Roma 87, 17021 Alassio (SV)
Tel. 39-0182-64201 or 645198, fax 64201
Parking, elevator, TV room; English spoken
Curfew: 11 p.m.; closed mid-October through December
15 singles, doubles and triples, most with private bathroom; full board required

Villa Charles Garnier
Via C. Garnier 11, 18012 Bordighera
Tel. 39-0184-260-449, fax 260-449
Very beautiful setting; some parking; no English spoken
Open Christmas through mid-October
30 singles, doubles and triples, all with private bathroom; full board required

Soggiorno Padre G. Semeria
Viale P. G. Semeria 35, 19016 Monterosso al Mare
Tel. 39-0187-817514 , fax 39-0187-818-192
Parking, elevator, TV room; some English spoken
Curfew: 10:30 p.m.
Web site; Email:
Singles and doubles, most with private bathroom, plus 14 bungalow apartments; half and full board on request

Villa Adriana
Via IV Novembre 5, 19016 Monterosso al Mare
Tel. 39-0187-818-109, fax 818-128
Web site; Email:
Parking, elevator, TV room; English spoken
Curfew: 11 p.m.; open March through October
54 singles and doubles, all with private bathroom and telephone; half and full board on request

Istituto Orsoline di Maria Immacolata
Via Aurelia Levante 54, 16035 Rapallo
Tel. 39-0185-232-014, fax 270-919
Elevator, TV room; limited English spoken
Curfew: 10:30 p.m.; open in summer
Web site; Email:
Singles and doubles, most with private bathroom; full board required

Monastero di Santa Croce del Corvo
Via Santa Croce 30, 19030 Bocca di Magra (SP)
Tel. 39-0187-60911, fax 609-1333
Web site; Email:
Occupying a 17th-century castle with spectacular views of the sea
Curfew: 10:00 p.m.
88 rooms that can be singles, doubles or triples; 80 have private bathroom; meals are available

Oasi Regina Pacis
Via Pellerano 6, 16038 Santa Margherita Ligure
Tel. 39-0185-286-842
13 singles and doubles, most with private bathroom; full board required

Santuario di Nostra Signora di Montallegro
Salita Santuario 18, 16035 Montallegro (GE)
Tel. 39-0185-239-003, fax 239-003
There's a very steep road to get up to this exquisite 16th-century sanctuary, which is next to the 20th-century guest house
70 beds in single, double, triple and quad rooms, most with shared bathrooms; full board required

More monastery and convent lodgings in Liguria


Villa Maria Elisabetta
Viale Zanardelli 156, 25083 Gardone Riviera
Tel/fax: 39-0365-20206
On Lake Garda, parking, TV room; some English spoken.
Closed mid-October through November
Singles, doubles and triples, all with private bathroom; half board or full board required

Albergo Villa Ferretti
Via Magone 15, 25080 Moniga del Garda (BS)
Tel./Fax 39-0365-502-681
Web site; Email:
In a very lovely setting on the shores of Lake Garda, parking, swimming pool, garden, sports area
110 beds in single and double rooms with private bathroom; meals are available

Monastero del Santissimo Salvatore
Via Giovanni Paul II 1, 22070 Grandate (CO)
Tel. 39-031-564-823
Web site
Very near Lake Como, closed in October, welcoming women only
20 single rooms with private bathrooms; full board required

Villa Fonteviva
Via delle Vittorie 12, 21026 Luino
Tel. 39-0332-532-506, fax 510-775
On the shores of Lake Maggiore, parking, closed in January and February
60 single and double rooms with private bathrooms; half board required

Monastero Suore Orsoline dell'Unione Romana
Via Don Silvio Gallotti 2, 28822 Cannobio (VA)
Tel./Fax 39-0323-70157
In a beautiful historic building that has been restored, 50 yards from Lake Maggiore, parking, welcome women, or men as part of a family group, open July and August
40 beds in single and double rooms, most with private bathroom; full board required

Hotel Il Portico
Piazza Santuario, 28052 Cannobbio
Tel. 39-0323-71255, fax 72289
Also at Lake Maggiore, parking, elevator, TV room, restaurant, bar
Web site; Email:
38 singles and doubles, all with private bathroom and telephone; breakfast costs extra


Istituto Oblate dell'Assunzione
Borgo Pinti 15, 50121 Florence
Tel. 39-055-248-0582 or 248-0583, fax 234-6291
Elevator, TV room; some English spoken
Curfew: 11 p.m.
30 singles, doubles and triples, some with private bathroom; board on request

Convito Ecclesiastico della Calza
Piazza della Calza 6, Florence
Tel. 39-055-222-287, fax 223-912
Web site; Email:
Set in the heart of Florence in a beautiful location near Pitti Palace and a fifteen-minute walk to Piazza Duomo
12 singles, 17 doubles, 2 triples with private bathrooms

Istituto Dell'Immacolata
Via del Ghirlandaio 40, 50121 Florence
Tel. 39-055-62300, fax 623-0282
30 singles, 6 doubles with private bathrooms; breakfast is included

Casa Santo Nome di Gesù
Piazza del Carmine 21, 50124 Florence
Tel. 39-055-213-856 or 214-866, fax 281-835
Web site; Email: or
In the center of Florence, no parking available
60 beds in single, double and triple rooms, some with private bathroom; breakfast included and dinner is available

Istituto San Giovanni Battista
Villa Merlo Bianco
Via Ripoli 82, 50126 Florence
Tel./Fax 39-055-680-2394
25 beds in single and double room with private bathroom; breakfast is included and dinner is available

Istituto Suore di Sant'Elisabetta
Viale Michelangelo 46, 50125 Florence
Tel./Fax 39-055-681-1884
Telephone in the room, TV room, chapel
35 singles, doubles, triples and quads, some with private bathrooms; breakfast is included

Villa Agape
Via Torre del Gallo 8/10, 50125 Florence
Tel. 39-055-220-044, fax 055-233-7012
Web site; Email:
Curfew 10:30 p.m., parking
30 beds in singles, doubles, triples and quads with private bathrooms; breakfast is included and other meals are available

Villa I Cancelli
Via Incontri 21, 50139 Florence
Tel./Fax 39-055-422-6001
On the outskirts of the city, it occupies a 15th-century villa with beautiful views
47 beds in singles and doubles with private bathrooms; breakfast is uncluded and dinner is available

Monastero di Camaldoli
Loc. Camaldoli 14, 52010 Camaldoli (AR)
Tel. 39-0575-556-012, 556-013, fax 556-001
Web site; Email:
A very busy calendar of spiritual events make this 11th-century sanctuary less available than others to guests, but it is worth trying to stay there if you value history. The monks' pharmacy is renowned throughout the world, and the entire site is filled with artistic treasures
170 beds in 90 single, double, triple and quad rooms, 40 with private bathroom; full board required

Santuario della Verna
Loc. Chiusi della Verna, 52010 Chiusi della Verna (AR)
Tel. 39-0575-599-025 in summer, 534-249 in winter
One of the original monasteries of St. Francis, this exceedingly beautiful and historic site dates back to the 1200s
Web site
70 single, double or triple rooms with private bathroom; full board required

Istituto Santa Margherita
Via C. Battisti 15, 52044 Cortona (AR)
Tel. 39-0575-630-336, fax 630-549
In the heart of old Cortona, parking must be arranged beforehand
Single, double, triple, quad, family and dorm-style rooms with private bathrooms; breakfast only available

Monastero di San Girolamo
Via Folgore 26, 53037 San Gimignano (SI)
Tel./Fax 39-0577-940-573
In the center of town, occupying an ancient building with some very rare paintings
36 beds in double and quad rooms with private bathrooms; meals are not included

Alma Domus
Via Camporegio 37, Siena
Tel. 39-0577-44177, fax 47601
In the center of town
Curfew: 11:30 p.m.
30 double, triple and quad rooms with private bathrooms; breakfast costs extra

Seminario Sant'Andrea
Viale Vittorio Veneto 2, Volterra
Tel. 39-0588-86028
In the center of town
30 rooms, some with private bathroom


Casa Ca' Burlotto
Santa Croce 316, Fondamenta Rizzi, 30125 Venice
Tel: 39-041-710-877, fax 710-875
Near Piazzale Roma and the train station; no single men permitted
50 beds in singles, doubles, triples and quads with private bathrooms; breakfast is included

Istituto Ciliota
San Marco 2976, 30124 Venice
Tel. 39-041-520-4888, fax 521-2730
Web site; Email:
Near St. Marks Square; air-conditioning, telephone and mini-bar in the rooms; open only June, July and September
Curfew: midnight
72 beds in singles and doubles, some with private bathrooms; half board is included

Casa Cardinal Piazza
Fondamenta Contarini, Cannaregio 3539A, 30121 Venice
Tel. 39-041-721-388, fax 720-233
Closed at Christmas and Easter, disabled-accessible
Web site; Email:
25 beds in singles, doubles and triples, with private bathrooms; breakfast is available

Istituto San Giuseppe
Ponte della Guerra, Castello, Venice
Tel. 39-041-522-5352, fax 041-522-4891
Close to Piazza San Marco
15 rooms with private bathrooms

Istituto Artigianelli
Dorsoduro 919, 30123 Venice
Tel. 39-041-522-4077, fax 528-6214
Near the Accademia
90 beds in single, double, triple and quad rooms with private bathrooms; no meals available

Casa Padri Stimmatini del Santuario di Nostra Signora di Lourdes
Viale dei Colli 27, Verona
Tel. 39-045-830-1101
Singles, doubles, triples with private bathrooms


Convento Patriarcale San Domenico
Piazza San Domenico 13, 40124 Bologna
Tel. 39-051-640-0411 or 656-4811, fax 656-4812
Web site; Email:
In the heart of the city
Curfew: midnight
40 single and double rooms with private bathrooms; meals are available

Villa San Giuseppe
Via San Luca 24, Bologna
Tel. 39-051-614-2341
Web site; Email:
Not in the center of town, but has a panoramic view of the city
35 singles and 5 doubles with private bathrooms

More monastery and convent lodgings in Emilia Romagna


Basilica Patriarcale e Protoconvento della Porziuncola
Frazione di Santa Maria degli Angeli, 06088 Assisi
Tel. 39-075-804-0455, fax 805-1478
Not in town, but annexed to the church that houses one of the most important spots in the life of St. Francis
84 single, double and family rooms with private bathrooms; meals are available

Casa Maria Immacolata
Via San Francesco 13, 06081 Assisi
Tel. 39-075-812-267, fax 816-258
In the center of town next to the basilica
Curfew: 10:00 p.m.
35 beds in singles, doubles, triples and quads with private bathrooms; half and full board on request

Monastero di Santa Brigida di Svezia
Via Moiano 1, 06081 Assisi
Tel. 39-075-812-693, fax 075-813-216
Web site
Private house just outside town; parking, elevator, TV room, English spoken
18 singles, doubles and triples with private bathrooms; board on request

Monastero Ste. Colette
Borgo San Pietro 3, 06081 Assisi
Tel. 39-075-812-345, fax 813-489
Near the basilica; parking, TV room; English spoken
Singles, doubles and triples, most with private bathroom

Istituto Santissimo Salvatore
Via del Popolo 1, 05018 Orvieto
Tel./Fax: 39-0763-342-910
One block from the cathedral; parking; elevator; no English spoken; closed in July
Curfew: 10:00 p.m.
14 singles and doubles with private bathrooms; breakfast is include and other meals are available

Istituto Maestre Filippini
Corso Garibaldi 100, 06024 Gubbio
Tel. 39-075-927-3768
In the center of this breathtaking medieval hill town; ancient but very recently renovated
1 single, 3 doubles, 2 quads with private bathrooms

Monastero di Santa Caterina
Loc. Castel Ritaldi, 06044 Castel Ritaldi (PG)
Tel./Fax 39-0743-51125
In a 13th-century castle outside Spoleto
8 double and quad rooms with private bathroom; no meals but you may use the kitchen to prepare your own


Casa di Preghiera Nostra Signora del Cenacolo
Via Manzoni 131, Naples
Tel. 39-081-769-2093
13 singles, 6 doubles with shared bathrooms

Eremo del Santissimo Salvatore
Via dell'Eremo 87, 80131 Camaldoli, Naples
Tel. 39-081-587-2591 or 587-5807, fax 587-6819
Web site
On a hillside overlooking the Bay of Naples, this is another convent managed by the Santa Brigida sisters 20 singles and doubles with private bathroom; full board required

Casa Santa Chiara
Via Santa Chiara 9, 84010 Ravello
Tel. 39-0189-857-145
Breathtaking view, but stairs required; some English spoken
Closed November through April.
15 doubles and triples, some with private bathroom

Villa Helios
Via Croce 4, 80073 Capri
Tel./Fax 39-081-837-0240
Close to town, but requires a moderately difficult walk, fabulous views, TV room; English spoken
Open Easter-October
45 beds in doubles and triples with private bathrooms; breakfast is available


Monastery and convent lodgings in Abruzzo


Monastery and convent lodgings in Apulia


Convento di Maria
Piazza Marina 5, Cefalu
Web site
A reader recommends this one, saying "it's delightful, has an elevator, rooms look straight down onto the rocks with the sea lapping against them and views to the Aeolian islands, about 40 Euros a night. No breakfast, but a cafe on the doorstep. A brilliant centre for visiting the island - coach trips to almost everywhere.  The nuns are charming - great characters.  I recommend it!"

Albergo Domus Mariae
Via V. Veneto 76, 96100 Siracusa
Tel. 39-0931-24854, fax 24858
Web site
A delightful old hotel in the center of town right in front of the sea
3 singles, 13 doubles and possible larger rooms, all with private bathrooms

Casa Diocesana Oasi di Badìa
Piazza Badia 1, 90136 Palermo
Tel./Fax 39-091-223-893
On the outskirts of the city in a private park; parking
50 beds in single, double and triple rooms, most with private bathroom, or in two-bedroom apartments with bathroom; meals are available

Monastero San Benedetto
Contrada San Giovanni 108, 96017 Noto
Tel. 39-0931-891-255, fax 894-382
Parking, TV room, garden; no English spoken
Women only accepted
10 singles and doubles, most with private bathroom; half and full board on request except at Easter and Christmas

Oasi Santissima Trinità
Contrada Schette, C.P. 59, Riesi
Tel. 39-0934-921-912; 368-364-0313; fax 921-141
Located in the hills 20 km from the sea
3 singles, 10 doubles, 4 quads with private bathrooms

Albergo del Bosco Emmaus
Via Cassone 75, 95019 Zafferana Etnea
Tel. 39-095-708-1888 or 335-755-1240; fax 708-3824
Panoramic location on the slopes of Mt. Etna and 20 km from Catalina
Web site; Email:
87 singles, doubles, triples, and quads with private bathroom

La Cittadella dell'Oasi Centro Congressi
Contrada San Michele, 94018 Troina
Tel. 39-0935-653-966, fax 653-660
A large modern hotel on a historical site in the mountains
90 singles and 76 doubles with private bathrooms

Istituto P. Francesco Spoto
Via Pineta Antica 14, 90040 San Martino delle Scale
Tel. 39-091-418-670, fax 418-142
In Sicily's only Benedictine abbey, offering much art and history; organ concerts are offered in summer months
20 single, double and triple rooms, most with private bathroom; full board required


Soggiorno Don Orione
Via Liguria 73, Fluminimaggiore, Cagliari
Tel. 39-0781-61340, fax 62439
Very close to the sea, surrounded by trees, near the grotto of "Su Mannau"
Singles to quads with private or shared bathrooms

Pensione Torre Salinas
Lungomare Torre Salinas, Muravera
Tel. 39-070-999-122, 999-080, 403-383, fax 402-984
Situated directly on the sea. Also ideal for excursions into the interior
22 doubles with private bathrooms

La Scogliera
Loc. Solanas, Via Su Portu 56, Villasimius
Tel. 39-070-750-614
Singles, triples and quads
7-day minimum stay required

Oasi Regina Apostolorum
Loc. Melanu, Desulo
Tel. 39-0784-619-215
9 singles, 9 doubles and 2 triples with private bathrooms.

Rifugio La Madonnina
Santu Lussurgiu, Oristano
Tel. 39-0783-550-672, fax 550-997
53 singles, doubles, and quads with private bathroom

Reservation Letter

Use our template to send a fax or letter to the convent(s) of your choice. Here are a few tips:

If you know the name of the person to whom you are writing, feel free to use it.
If it is a woman, address her as Egregia __(name)___.
If it is a man, address him as Egregio __(name)___.
If you do not know the name, address them as Egregi Fratelli.

If you want to write in Italian and English, here is a printable reservation letter. Just fill in your information and then print it out and fax or mail it.

Please send your request as early as you can. Most religious guest houses, particularly those which are appropriate for lay foreigners, fill up many months in advance.