Vincenzo Leone, Erice, Italy
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San Francesco Erice Reviews
Monastic Simplicity Jul 29, 2014
Erice is an ancient city dating back to 900 BC and one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in all of Europe. There are many phases to its history, but the one of relevance here considers the time span of the middle of the 12th century to the present day. During this time many monasteries and convents were established in Erice. Occupying such places were Dominican Friars (San Domenico) and Coventual Friars (San Francesco). The word Conventual is derived from the Latin convenire, "to come together"; hence they lived together in "convents" or friaries. That's the back story in historical perspective and now on to the review.
San Franceso is one of those convents that dates back to the middle ages. Here you can experience the simplicity of monastic life if you are willing to give up a few creature comforts, but not too many. There is electricity and the rooms have a small bathroom (I mean very small) with a toilet and narrow shower if you can squeeze into it. I have a rather thin build so not too much trouble for me, but could see where someone who was more heavy set might have trouble. The whole place has a humble simplicity to it, however, that can be appreciated in the right spirit for a sense of old world monastic life. It's fairly well preserved and is a relic from the past that probably looks rather like it did when going back some centuries.
There is no reception area and the place seems to be taken care of by a service staff that come around in the day to clean the rooms. They fix up the bed, leave clean towels if needed and make sure there is always plenty of bottled water. If you need anything extra they are willing to accommodate you, but don't speak English, so you have to be prepared to be inventive in conveying your wishes. On a side comment, the place echoes with sounds of closing doors and footsteps, so it may disturb your sleep, but didn't bother me too much. There is also a wifi area for free internet use and if close enough to the area it will work in your room.
In truth, I am not entirely sure who owns/runs this place. I was given a room here by the Ettore Majorana Foundation and Centre for Scientific Culture as part of my registration fee for the International School of Atomic and Molecular Spectroscopy, where I attended a meeting of scientists. The Majorana Centre may use it only for participants of scientific schools, which are held year round in Erice from April to December, but may rent the rooms to tourists through another entity. There are some links on the internet for booking such a place and I give one here for reference, though I think this is just a small home near the San Francesco former monastery:
Part of the Erice - City of Peace and Science travel blog
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