Sunday, March 18, 2007

VENICE, 2001...our Monastery Experience

In September of 2001 my friend Douglas and I spent the month in Italy and we lodged in Monasteries. This worked very well for us and we’d been pleasantly surprised at the convenience, the cleanliness and the wonderful hospitality that had been extended to us in Rome, Orvieto, Bavagna, Gubbio, Cortona and Florence.

When I had communicated with the Sisters to make reservations I had been careful to explain that Douglas and I were not married. Some of the Monasteries were very strict about this and I wanted to make sure they knew that we were traveling friends and would be staying in separate rooms.

Our final Monastery stay was in Venice and we were anxious to see how the “Casa Caburlotta” would compare to the others. It was early evening when we arrived there and we couldn’t see a light in any of the windows. This didn’t bode well but we pulled the door rope and were rewarded with a bell tone that was loud enough to wake the dead. It didn’t seem to wake the Sisters, however, and it took 3 bell pulls and 15 minutes before a very old nun dressed completely in black (and with a dark frown to match) opened the door.

I had verification of our reservations and I presented it to the Sister. She took a long time pouring over the document and finally allowed us to enter. She pointed to a chair and instructed Douglas to sit there. Then she took my arm and we proceeded to the second floor where she showed me my room and gave me a small packet of instructions. I realized that I was in for the night and hoped I’d catch up with Douglas at breakfast.

My room was quite sparse but very clean and comfortable. The next morning I did find Douglas in the breakfast room and he was still chuckling. It seems that the Sister situated him about as far away from me as possible. He was in the students quarters on the top floor and accessed his room by a different set of stairs than mine.

It was our good fortune to meet a fellow traveler at breakfast who had stayed many times at the Monastery. He said that he didn’t think there was a Sister there under the age of 80 and that they were very strict but loving. I had my doubts about the “loving” part but we were there for four days regardless.

The next days were filled with all that Venice had to offer. We’d leave early in the morning and return after dinner. The Sisters were thawing a bit toward us...although they still made sure that we separated in the front hall before we retired to our rooms.

On the morning that we left I was amazed when the most austere of the sisters said she had a remembrance for me. She gave me a hug and a small glass pendant from Morano. I will always cherish that gift, but it was the gift of her smile that I will remember truly was “loving”.


Blogger Anvilcloud said...

So, when in Venice ... no hanky panky.

6:10 PM  
Blogger KGMom said...

Staying in monasteries the whole way? That must have been its own special experience in addition to all the places you saw.
When we visited Italy, we had too little time in each of the cities, and that included Venice. I would love to go back.

6:30 PM  
Blogger kenju said...

Isn't it funny, considering your ages, that the nuns would be so careful to make certain you didn't commit a sin? If you two had been teenagers, you might have been fitted with a chastity belt. LOL

7:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Staying in a monastery is an experience I never had. But my daughter did, when she was twelve, and travelled to Rome with her class and her history teacher. She loved it.

12:17 PM  
Blogger Pam said...

I love these stories. I'm so glad you left with a smile that touched your heart.

1:36 PM  
Blogger Cathy said...

What a different world you're sharing here. I'll probably never stay in a monastery - so it's great to hear your first hand account.

2:39 PM  
Blogger gawilli said...

All in all it sounds like a really nice experience; especially since all of you were in agreement on sleeping arrangements! You certainly didn't have to worry about your safety, and it sounds as though you broke through the chill in the end.

6:04 PM  
Blogger Cazzie!!! said...

Oh boy, what a lovely post yet again Ginnie, you atke me away to someplace I have never been, and I would love to see tnat smile.

1:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice story, but excuse me Ginnie, for I thought that monks lived in monasteries, not nuns. Perhaps that's why the old girl had a smile on her face the next morning. ;-)

8:02 AM  
Blogger dmmgmfm said...

What a wonderful story. Thank you.

9:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We spent the night in a monastary once near South Carolina. I forget the name and I think we were in the camper. The monks were very helpful and the gardens a delight. I never thought about doing this in Europe. We did some youth hostels last time we were there (10 years ago).

8:58 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Well told. When I was stuck in Milan for a few weeks, I tried to stay in a nunnery. I was so put off by the nun's dour demeanor and early gate closing time that I declined the offer. I'm no party animal, but I did want a bit of life. You and Douglas were clearly more flexible and adventuresome. I liked the twist at the end of the story.

3:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great story, Ginnie. I was fortunate enough to hear this story in person when we recently met. But it was just as enjoyable reading your words here.
Those nuns were something...I remember them well from my Parochial school days.

10:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does anyone know the site for Casa Caburlotta in Venice?

6:39 PM  
Blogger Ginnie said...

Hi anonymous: here is the address that you're looking for.

Casa Caburlotto
Santa Croce,318 - Fondamenta Rizzi
30125 Venice (VE) Italy

Tel: 041/710877/Fax:041/710876

Ginnie (Have fun!)

5:14 AM  

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