Our Italian Adventure: Monastery Stays in Italy
Updated: Mar 20
PART 33: It might be interesting to share how we pulled off living in Italy for part of the year. I will post some steps we took.
We are in Puglia in the summer and then back again in the winter.
Step 1: After I was asked to review the book "Monastery Stays in Italy" last year, I was intrigued by the variety and number of these types of lodgings available.
But once I read the book and published the review, I promptly forgot about it.
Step 2: Though we live in Puglia when we are in Italy, I/we also travel throughout Italy and beyond, using our place as a base. I decided to visit some Italian cities last Fall, but I waited until the last minute to look for lodging—a big mistake.
Step 3: Problem: Last year, I was in Rome and ended up at the AirBnB from hell. I had booked the place for a week, but there was no way that I could stay another night. The apartment was so bad that I called AirBnB headquarters and told them they had to get me out of there! I won't go into details here, but it was terrible.
Step 4: Quandary. Airbnb gave the owner a list of things to fix, but he didn't follow through; they offered to transfer me to another lodging if I could find one, but Rome was fully booked (September is a busy month). It felt like I was stuck in purgatory or hell!
Then something happened.
Step 5: Revelation. I called my partner to complain about my situation; I told him there was no way out. I could not afford a $450 hotel room, the only lodgings available. "Remember that book you read about monastery stays?" he asked. "Why don't you see if you can find a place at one of those?" That possibility hadn't even occurred to me.
Step 6: Solution. I Googled "Monastery stays Rome" and immediately found the website affiliated with the book.
Since my preferred area to lodge in Rome is Piazza Navona/Campo dei Fiori, I focused my search there. I soon found three convent-run "pensioni" in that area.
I was determined to leave my AirBnB that day, so I had to work fast.
Step 7: Footwork and discovery. I emailed all of the convent lodgings in my area. The first, the Brigittine nuns in Piazza Farnese, were already booked but would be happy to host me in the future. My heart sank.
There was another lodging just off Piazza Navona, but they waited to respond to my email. So I put the address in my Google maps and walked over. A kind man greeted me at the desk; I told him my story, hoping to convince him to rescue me from my apartment. He didn't need to hear the story. "Sure, we have a room for you." When he told me the price, it was so low that I asked him twice.
Step 8: No frills. The location was perfect, the room was small and simple but immaculately clean, and breakfast was included. Though the doors shut at 11, I was given a key to come and go any time.
Step 9: Diverse lodgings. Besides this experience in Rome, we have since experienced other monastery stays and found that they are always spotless and can vary in price and amenities.
For example, we also stayed at a monastery-run lodging in the center of Salzburg, which was equal to a 4-5 star hotel, with a generous breakfast that carried us through most of the day. We could have found an airBnB for a bit cheaper, but it was an incredible experience that added to the richness of our trip.
We learned that not all monastery stays are the lowest cost lodging; sometimes, an Airbnb is cheaper. But a monastery stay gives one a unique experience.
Step 10: Religiosity. My experience of these lodgings is that everyone is welcome, whether religious or none. It is the hospitality that matters.
Insights: Learning to think outside the box while living in Italy is a journey. Whether it is transportation, shopping, or lodging, new ways of doing things enrich our lives and expand our horizons.
Watch for my book coming out in March 2023: "Stories from Puglia: Two Californians in Southern Italy." https://www.bookdepository.com/Stories-from-Puglia-Mark-Tedesco/9781913680640?ref=grid-view&qid=1666212800375&sr=1-2.
More next time.