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Part one: Enjoy the charm of the French countryside while partaking of the gastronomic delights of Lyon

Thursday, December 27th, 2012

When I decided to write the monastery book on France, one of the cities I didn’t want to miss was Lyon. It is a history-filled city with art, architecture and of course, wonderful gastronomic delights. The Institution where I stayed is situated on the grounds of a verdant 15-acre parkland on a hill dominating Lyon. Conveniently located on the west side of Lyon, the facility is accessible to the Perrache and Part-Dieu high-speed train stations. Once an old estate built in 1680, it is for all intents and purposes a stone’s throw from Lyon.

While on a mission to Gaul in 43 BC, one of Caesar’s lieutenants founded a Roman colony and named it Lugdunum. It became the capital of Roman Gaul and is now the core of present-day Lyon. Its most provocative artifact from the Roman period is the bronze Claudian Table granting citizens the right to become Roman senators. The table is part of the priceless collection of the Musee de la Civilisation Gallo.

A lovely city in the Rhone Alps, Lyon offers a cornucopia of diversions, from its world famous cuisine to its medieval and Renaissance old square. It is organized into nine arrondissements and the best way to explore the city on foot. Fourviere hill, the “praying hill” is defined by the extravagant 19th century Our Lady of Fourviere Basilica, beloved symbol of the city and a revered place of pilgrimage. Mosaics and stained glass opulently fill the interior. Easy access is provided by a funicular railway, la ficelle, which travels to the top of the hill and amazing views of the city below.

The cost of the rooms is quite reasonable with rates starting at about 35E per person/per night including breakfast.

The cost of the rooms is quite reasonable with rates starting at about 35E per person/per night including breakfast. Other meals can also be arranged for an additional charge. Men and women are welcome. Each single, double and dorm rooms have private baths and views of the park. The institute is accessible to the handicapped.

To be continued…

For more information go to: Monasteries of France

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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In a setting near Lake Garda, room and half board are an inexpensive $49.00

Thursday, May 3rd, 2012

Lake Garda, Italy’s largest lake, was originally named Garda Benacus by the Romans.

Of Glacial origin, It is distinguished by the intense blue color of its water. Lake Garda, Italy’s largest lake, was originally named Garda Benacus by the Romans. Nearby Moniga del Garda is a quaint village comprised of ancient streets dominated by a castle and bell tower. The crenellated boundary walls preserve lookout towers. The Villa Brunata is poised near the town’s main square, its elegant façade and portico face a century-old park. The parish church of San Michele was rebuilt in the 7th century, its interior reveals a beautifully sculpted Pieta.

The town recently renovated its “passeggiata” and port and increased ferry connections across the lake. On the outskirts of town, Grotte di Catullo are Roman ruins (once a villa) set on a hillside of ancient olive groves.

In the immediate vicinity, Malcesine is a picturesque gem and the locale of the cable car to Monte Baldo with its wonderful views of the lake. Sirmione is noted for its Roman ruins and the Rocca Scaligera. A classic example of a medieval castle, the imposing structure is accentuated by battlemented towers and a drawbridge.

For more information: Monasteries of Italy.com

The Allure of the Ligurian Coast is its history and beautiful cities (Part two)

Friday, February 17th, 2012

The monastery we selected (from among hundreds in The Guide to Lodging in Italy’s Monasteries) has eight double rooms with private bath.

Portofino is one of the most exclusive resorts in Italy. A harbor town, it is anchored on a promontory overlooking the sea and coastline. What makes the town even more delightful are the brightly colored houses that edge the portside piazza and compose a postcard pretty picture. As hikers, we found another trail that was quite lovely. If you’re up for the walk, take the road near the16th century Castle of San Giorgio through a pine woodland to the Punta del Capo lighthouse. And whatever you do, wherever you go in this part of Italy, don’t forget your camera.

Nearby Genoa, capital of the region, remains the most important harbor in Italy. It is laid out along the seashore like an amphitheater. A maze of narrow streets comprise the heart of the old city where humble houses, medieval churches and 16th century palaces stand side by side. The austere facades of the churches, often layers of black and white marble, belie the beauty within. The surrounding hilltops are scattered with walls and fortresses from the early 17th century. In the 13th century, the city was the main maritime power of the Tyrrhenian Sea. Some of the city’s sights include the Palazzo Rosso and its fine gallery showcasing Tintoretto, Caravaggio, Veronese and Durer while the Palazzo Bianco exhibits the works of Pontormo, Reubens and Van Dyck. Don’t miss the Staglieno. It is as much a sculpture garden as an amazing cemetery. Planned in the mid 15th century, it is a place unto itself. There’s a map that will show the way down numerous cedar and cypress lined avenues to some impressive monuments. Make note of the often provocative granite and marble female figures on the tombstones.

The monastery we selected (from among hundreds in The Guide to Lodging in Italy’s Monasteries) has eight double rooms with private bath. The rooms are in a recently renovated section that is open year-round. The cost per person, per night depends on the time of year. As an aside, the monks produce an ointment that heals wounds and extracts splinters from under the skin. The ointment is sold throughout Italy. For more information about other monasteries in every part of Italy, visit http://www.monasteriesofitaly.com