The most recent economic data show that religious tourism is a rapidly growing sector. It is so throughout the world, in general, and in Italy, home of Christianity and Catholicism, in particular.
For years, tour operators have snubbed this market segment, considering it the poor version of the real vacation. But as a result of the development of the sector, with the ever more pressing increase in demand and thanks to a greater understanding of the tourists/pilgrims, the experts have finally understood that religious tourism is not a poor tourism. It is a simple tourism.
Why choosing a religious accomodation
Those who choose to stay in an abbey, a monastery, a convent, a parish house, or in one of the many other solutions of religious hospitality, do not seek the comforts and well-being of a usual holiday, do not expect to find the comforts of a hotel and do not want to measure their experience on the basis of the extras offered - for a fee and often at a high price - by the hotel. As a consequence, they don’t plan to allocate a large budget to the accommodation that will host them. In this respect, religious tourism, rich in terms of spirituality, is certainly a low-cost tourism. After all, the tranquility, the distance from the crowd and the confusion, the silence, the slowness, the meals consumed by sharing the table, the wake-up call at the ringing of bells and the possibility of gathering in prayer and meditation are not monetizable options.
A few rules to remember
Religious structures that host travelers, tourists and pilgrims are often located in beautiful places, immersed in enchanting landscapes, surrounded by art and history, or feature both of them.
Sometimes hospitality is a bit spartan. Often, and especially the first time, it takes a while to get used to it but, and the data confirm it, more and more tourists fall in love with this unique way of traveling and never leave it again.
To get ready for the typical characteristics of these accommodations, it is useful to know the general rules to follow once there. While varying from structure to structure, there are rules shared more or less by all.
- Simple food: generally the menus provide a very limited choice and simple dishes, made with products collected and prepared by the host community.
- Silence: respect for the religious community living in the structure is an imperative to keep in mind at all hours of the day.
- No smoking and no alcohol: those who stay in a religious structure must share their values and lifestyle. Wine is usually served during meals but bringing alcohol to the room is not allowed.
- Cockrow and bells ringing: the wake-up call in these places is a forgotten sound or perhaps never heard by most of the tourists who stay there. And, once left, it is one of the moments that will be remembered most affectionately.