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staying overnight in abbeys?
Lyndieh
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I’ve heard it’s an option but don’t know where or how?  anybody ever tried it?

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Never done it but I would like to.  I know monastaries make beer, though.
 
You can stay at some universities, too.  I contacted the University of Salzburg and they rent rooms.

Eat the food, use the wrong verbs, and end up getting charged double.

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Yes, I’ve done it, but you’re running short on time if you want to do it for summer. In major Italian cities, these places tend to book up quickly.
 
Look for the book Bed and Blessings.
 
Here are two good sites:
http://www.santasusanna.org/comingToRome/convents.html
http://tinyurl.com/2ze6co
 
The place I stayed at in Florence:
http://www.fmmfirenze.it

Jennifer&Chester
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Traveller, just looked at the website for the Casa Santo nome di Gesu, looks pretty good,

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Yes, it’s a beautiful building, and you have the run of the house, so you have a beautiful sitting room, library, and TV room to use, as well as the garden. My only complaints were – 1) in winter the rooms are on the chilly side, 2) the breakfast is a bit sparse. Of course with #2, many budget accommodations do not have breakfast at all, so I can’t really complain about that. #1 is manageable if you are prepared to dress warmly for bed. They also offer a good three-course dinner, with both vegetarian and meat options, for about 15 Euros per night. You can buy a bottle of wine from them, and they will keep it and serve it to you each evening.