Whether you are traveling in the countryside or want to explore a great city like Rome, Italy offers a comfortable and economic option for accommodations — a convent or monastery stay. Thanks to its Catholic heritage, Italy has an abundance of convents and monasteries throughout the country. In popular cities like Rome and Florence, the convents claim prime locations that are centrally located, yet often, on quiet side streets. Fortunately for us travelers, these renovated buildings are usually a great bargain compared to their competition.
So, what’s it like to stay in a convent? It’s much like a well run, three star hotel that is, for the most part, quiet and serene. Unlike a typical hotel or B&B, these convents may have a curfew. During my last stay in Italy, I tried four different convents—two in Rome, one in Viterbo and one in Florence. None of my convents had a curfew, but they did request that guests be quiet starting around 10 p.m.
Sometimes there are larger groups, such as school children or religious retreats, so a convent courtyard can quickly be filled with the lively chatter of children. But we only experienced this once, and the larger group was at the opposite wing of our building.
Most convents have an inner courtyard or cloister, which is a pleasant place to read, sketch and relax. You can even ask for a room that faces the courtyard to ensure a quieter stay. Most accomodations have a chapel onsite, but there is no requirement to attend a service. Most convents have a common room and often, there is a computer room for guests’ use. All of my most recent convent stays offered free wifi in the rooms. Because the buidlings are old, with thick walls, the wifi connections in rooms can be undependable. Read the reviews for each property.
All of my stays were in a single room with an ensuite bathroom. For most stays, I had a comfortable single bed, but I had a double bed, too. My husband and I have also stayed at convents and had a very spacious “matrimoniale” room. For all of our stays we’ve found efficient rooms with comfortable beds, great storage and a nice desk for writing. However, if you’re looking for a flatscreen TV, this won’t be your choice. I have not seen a TV in any of my rooms.
What I have found similar in all of our convent stays is how sparkly clean they are. Some may be more simple than others, but all of them are spotless. Don’t be shy about asking for advice from the staff. I was able to use a neighborhood train station, with way less hassle thanks to the advice from the staff at Casa Maria Immacolata in the Prati neighborhood of Rome.
The convents and monastries may be run by nuns, priests or a non-profit organization. In every case, there is usually someone who can speak English. To find out more, you can visit the website called Monasterystays.com. However, once I find a few options, I like to search for the property’s own website and deal directly. Often, you get more detailed information and more direct communication.
Besides Italy, there are monastery/convent stays in many other countries. Although I have not tried any outside of Italy, I would guess that there are some hidden gems out there. If you have any experiences with this type of accommodation, feel free to add a comment!
Recent Convent Stays
Casa Maria Immacolata – Rome in the Prati neighborhood, near the Vatican
Casa per ferie Santa Lucia Filippina – Rome near Largo di Argentina & the Pantheon
Nazareth Residence – Viterbo on the edge of the old town
Casa per Ferie Regina Santo Rosario – Florence near the Academia Gallery