Nun's cell with a view: book details holy stays

Thu Oct 9, 2008 10:37pm EDT
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By Pauline Askin

SYDNEY (Reuters Life!) - If you're keen to add a holy dimension to your holiday, a new book by Australian author Trish Clark details the best religious accommodation in Europe.

Clark, a first-time author, has spent the past 30 years traveling around the world staying in monasteries and convents, sipping holy wine and even singing a few notes of the hymn "Avia Maria" in an Italian restaurant run by Carmelite nuns.

Her book, "Good Night and God Bless" which was published in August, is described as a guide to alternative tourist accommodation, focusing on monastic stays, mainly in Italy and the Czech Republic. A second volume is due out next year.

She spoke to Reuters about her experiences.

Q. What prompted you to choose this style of accommodation?

A. "I was booked into a youth hostel in Rome and when I got there my bed had been sold. The gentleman behind the counter said 'Don't worry I've booked you into a convent up the road'. I nearly died because I'd just left school and the nuns. The last thing I wanted was to spend my holiday with them. It turned out to be a really remarkable experience."

Q. Has accommodation with religious orders been available for a long time?

A. "Yes, hospitality has always been one of the big things with religious orders, but in the past, it's been mainly to pilgrims on a donation basis. Over the years, these communities have shrunk in size and in some cases they are left with hundreds of empty bedrooms. If they take in guests they can afford to keep the places running."   Continued...