April, 2010

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Crashing seas and snow-capped peaks epitomize the beauty of the monastery’s setting where rooms will only set you back $16.00 per person

Tuesday, April 13th, 2010

Beaches of Castro Urdiales.

The monastery is quartered in a picturesque town of Cantabria and a part of Green Spain. Bathed in a golden light, the region is characterized by crashing seas and the snow-capped peaks of the Picos de Europa. The landscape in between includes Neolithic cave paintings, medieval towns, cobbled streets and stone farmhouses and is only thirty minutes from Bilbao and Santander.

A memorable car trip stretches along the rocky coast to Castro Urdiales, a fishing village and popular resort built around a natural harbor. Distinguished by enormous buttresses and pinnacles, the fortress-like Iglesia de Santa Maria stands high above the port. The partially ruined castle was built by the Knights Templar and safeguards a lighthouse. The town is one of the oldest settlements on the Cantabrian coast and is delineated by handsome glass-fronted houses lining an elegant promenade.

For more information visit Monasteriesofspain.com

Visit the remains of the nuragic civilization, the prehistoric people of Sardinia, and stay in this ancient convent for $60 per night

Sunday, April 11th, 2010

A two-story cloister surrounds an inner courtyard composed of twenty-two columns.

The convent was built between the 15th and 16th centuries and is settled in a small city of cobbled streets and narrow alleys along a coastline dotted with secluded bays, small inlets and high jagged rocks.  It is a mixture of Gothic design and late Renaissance and is considered one of the most significant examples of Catalan-Gothic architecture. Its most remarkable feature is the stellar vault above the sanctuary. A two-story cloister surrounds an inner courtyard composed of twenty-two columns. The octagonal tower beside the church dominates the town’s landscape.

The countryside is scattered with the remains of the nuragic civilization, a prehistoric settlement of Sardinia dating back almost 2,000 years. This singular and enigmatic culture is characterized by the intriguing nuraghe, truncated conical structures built from huge basalt blocks excavated from extinct volcanoes. The round vaulted interiors are linked by corridors and stairways. No two structures are alike. Almost nothing is known of this culture.

For more information visit monasteriesofitaly.com

Visit Umbria, Tuscany’s unspoiled sister. It’s filled with hilltop towns and dotted with monasteries that welcome all for about $25 per night.

Wednesday, April 7th, 2010

Umbrian monasteries welcome all without any religious obligations. Rates at Umbrian monasteries range from a voluntary donation to about $25 a nite per person.

Spello is a unique town built in the typical colors of the Umbria stone. Although best known for his work in the Borgia Apartment in the Vatican Museum, some of Pinturicchio’s finest frescoes can be admired in the Baglioni Chapel of the Church of Santa Maria Maggiore. The chapel’s beautiful tile floor is majolica by Deruta.

Once an important municipality on the Via Flaminia, tiny Bevagna has preserved several buildings, fortifications and artistic treasures from its days as an ancient Roman staging post. A delightful hill town of steep, narrow, cobbled streets and ancient walls, two-well preserved Augustan gates attest to the town’s past. Outstanding mosaics can be seen at the site of the former hot baths. The 12th century Romanesque church of San Michele is enhanced with a lovely facade containing gargoyles on either side of the portal. Another Romanesque church, the dark and mysterious San Silverstro, contains a memorial stone at the entrance signed and dated (1195) by the Maestro Binello.

Perched on the slopes of Mount Ingino, Gubbio is a medieval jewel whose gray stone buildings appear to be marching up the impossibly steep and heavily wooded slopes. The ancient byways and twisting streets are lined with terracotta tiled houses. Unexpected views of the verdant valley and snow-capped Apennines surprise at every turn.

For more information go to monasteriesofitaly.com