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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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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

Homemade pastries in Andalucia Spain monastery. Stay for only $6 dollars per night.

Saturday, September 11th, 2010

The monastery is well suited for touring the Pueblos Blancos, a route through fortified hilltop towns and villages amid a charming tangle of gorges, cork forests and vast rocky peaks.

The monastery was originally founded by a group of twelve women who had formed a community although they did not belong to any specific order. In 1518 a group of nuns from San Juan de la Palma, a monastery in Seville, joined the group and established the Franciscan monastery. During the religious suppressions, the sisters remained in residence, however, a small part of the building was set on fire. “The damage was small and nothing serious happened,” said one of the nuns. Since the order lives in seclusion, the monastery is not open to visitors. “But guests staying in our guest house can visit our church,” said the Madre Hospedera. ”It is a beautiful Baroque building with a central and two lateral retablos,” she added.

The sisters of this monastery in Andalucia are renowned for their pastries. The monastery is well suited for touring the Pueblos Blancos, a route through fortified hilltop towns and villages amid a charming tangle of gorges, cork forests and vast rocky peaks. Framed by Moorish arches and draped in bougainvillea, these cliff-top towns are so named because they are whitewashed in the Moorish tradition. They retain an atmosphere reminiscent of the Middle Ages.

The architecture and appearance of nearby Seville, capital of bullfighting in Spain, can be traced to the Moorish occupation from 741 to 1248. The monuments from that period represent the sum and substance of Andalusian culture. The Alcazar is ensconced in the historic center and is protected by walls; the neighborhood is underscored by symbolic whitewashed buildings and iron filigreed balconies. Adjoining the cathedral is the Reales Alcazares, one of the oldest royal residences in Europe. Built in Moorish style, it rivals the Alhambra in its exquisite embellishments and grand halls.

Only women are welcomed as guests and extended visits are preferred. The cost is $108 per month or $6.00 per night. For more information about Spanish monasteries click: MonasteriesOfSpain.com