|Subject: Spiritual destinations|
I'll try to give you some hints about spiritual destinations in the
countries you mentioned.
Starting from Portugal,I don't know what your faith is,but it's easy to
Fatima, the place where apparitions
of the Holy Virgin took place and a place that is special in the heart of
The Pope, but I want to tempt you on something very different,too.
One of the moving experiences I had in Portugal was visiting prehistoric
sites in Alentejo,around Evora and Castelo de Vide
(both interesting cities in themselves).I couldn't but think about those
ancient fathers of ours erecting menhirs and other
architectures that bear an obvious spiritual tension towards the unknown.The
natural setting is very interesting,too.I can give you more exact directions
if you're interested.
North of Portugal lies a wonderful part of Spain,Galicia,where you'll find
Santiago de Compostela,the place that was destination to
so many pilgrims throughout past centuries,people walking there from distant
like Italy or England on the Camino de Santiago.I think
this issue was covered by recent postings,too.
In southern France, you have Lourdes,another well known Marian place of
gathering especially for ill people who flock there from every corner of
Not in the verysouthern part of France, but neither too far from your
itinerary,lies the village of TaizŤ.This is home to an ecumenical community
of monks that pray and sing with thousands and thousands of young people
from many european countries.No specific confessional denomination is
typical to the place,catholic or protestant or orthodox are all O.K.,and
although I've never been there, I guess it could be a great place for those
who are not really sure what their belief is,indeed.Accomodation is given
for those who don't have a tent.They don't require a minimum stay,although
Thursday to Sunday or,better, a whole week is the suggestion.Friends who
went there (also families,not only young people) say it's a renovating
experience,well worth the trip.
(TaizŤ aficionados organize an annual meeting in an auropean city every end
of the year, and we had one in Milan two years ago,
I hosted three young polish students and it was a special time for all of
I second wholeheartedly Debbie's solicitation to visit Umbria which is definitely the most spiritual region of Italy.A less known option is the adjoining part of Tuscany,actually it's northeastern Tuscany,in the province of Arezzo, where you have two spiritual centers ,both of them in a breathtaking mountain forest scenery.La Verna is a monastery founded by St.Francis.Camaldoli is home to a congregation of monks,famous for they erboristic and natural products(also cosmetics) and it's split between a monastery and an hermitage. Of course one couldn't avoid Rome when it comes to religion,from the catacombs on it's been a center of Christianity. Traces of early christianity and are also scattered throughout Italy, I will only mention Aquileia in northeast Friuli region with its ancient churches,and of course Venice. In Greece, my first thought is for the Meteors.These are monasteries hanging on clifftops, in the center of greek mainland. Then, you have Patmos island that is linked with St.John. In Turkey, you have presently islam as the main religion, and also you can follow the paths of St.Paul who spread the Gospel truth at first right here. By now, I hope I have helped ,with just some examples,in raising your curiosity.I realize some of my suggestions try to match artistic interest with proper spiritual intensity,but I think this mix could be a good compromise.