What is Spirit Youth?
The aim of Spirit Youth is to create a European Itinerary based on spirituality but this is a topic that is offered, somehow, in some of the European Cultural Routes. The aims of these routes are to promote European Cultural heritage and identity, to strength democratic dimension of cultural exchange and tourism, SMEs development though the involvement of local and regional authorities, grassroots networks, associations, universities and professional organisations.
Why do the Spirit Youth Itinerary?
In the rush of today’s modern life, where things move at lightning pace and you can never stop to sit down and draw breath for fear of being left behind, Spirit Youth allows you to escape from daily stresses and demands that threaten to overwhelm. Seeking to provide you with the opportunity to rejuvenate your mind and body through learning about some of Europe’s most spiritual destinations, giving you the chance to understand Europe’s spirit, and your own. Spirit Youth allows you travel either by yourself or with a group, and undertake carefully prepared activities and itineraries with likeminded travellers who want to escape and discover something new about themselves and the world. This page allows you to see all the activities that are part of the ‘Free your mind’ itinerary.
Few territories in Italy and Europe can boast an important contemporary art heritage like Prato and its territory due to the presence of the Centre for Contemporary Art "Luigi Pecci” and to the numerous works of art well integrated in the landscape and in the spirit of this place and these people.
The experience offers to everyone, through the wonder and amazement of the aesthetic experience, the opportunity to develop their sensitivity and achieve autonomy and critical thinking skills.
Hiking route from Gonfienti to Pietramarina following the tracks of the ancient Etruscan civilization; it can be done in 3 days. Along the route are places to sleep, eat and to get info that can be recognized by a dedicated symbol.
The itinerary allows you to be immersed in the nature, to reflect on yourself and try pleasant experiences. It is possible to organize free guided tours.
Possibility to appreciate the talent of this extraordinary renaissance painter, remaining fascinated in front of the spirituality of his magnificent works of art.
The itinerary wants also to introduce, in addition to his art, even the mysterious side of the artist: he was a strange character, with a scandalous life, accursed “ante litteram”, possibly he died poisoned.
Prato is known all over the world as a textile city. The Textile Museum is the only one in Italy dedicated to art and textile technology. Spread all over the province are examples of industrial archaeology. Don’t forget the local outlet stores where you can buy excellent products in fine fibers; many buildings have been converted into bars or theaters where they performed impressive performances and art exhibitions.
Even Prato and its province have legends to tell like the attempted theft of the “Sacred Belt” by Musciattino. Listening to a legend you can travel to the past with imagination. You can experience a place in a different way, discovering this 'dark side' of ancient stories and traditions. The myth is the narrative reduction of a religious experience, designed to meet the need to provide an explanation of natural phenomena, or to questions about the existence and the cosmos.
Prato's cuisine is simple. Typical local products together with the wines of the Montalbano area and Montemurlo can be tasted in many central and suburban restaurants. Do not miss: stuffed celery, the Prato Mortadella, the Prato “bozza”, chicken livers crostini and the famous almond biscuits. Take time to taste dishes based on traditions and discover how the cooks try to use every edible part of their ingredients so as to waste as little as possible.
A route that ideally goes through the Province of Prato. From north to south it is possible to taste a varied production of biscuits as the famous “Biscotti di Prato” (almond biscuits), “Brutti Boni”, “The sugar candies of Valbisenzio (Zuccherini)”, “Sassi della Calvana”, “Amaretti” and “Carmignanini” of the Montalbano area. With this itinerary it is possible to make a sin of greed and sweet lovers will certainly be in seventh heaven. Superfine palates can satisfy their sweet tooth.
The Tabernacles are a valuable record of the constant devotion to the Virgin Mary in Prato, where we can find the Madonnas over the doors of the houses or small chapels along the roads dedicated to the Holy Virgin. Their presence is closely linked to the religious, social affairs, economic and cultural conditions experienced by the community over the centuries. The tabernacles tell the earthly and spiritual history of Prato community.
Tuscany is a land that produces wine, generally in small cultivations scrupulously cared for. Carmignano wines, the oldest DOCG wine mark of the world, Montalbano Chianti and Montemurlo wine, are excellences of the territory. Not only wine, recently many breweries have arisen in our province.
With this itinerary it is possible to get in touch with the atmosphere of the Medici period and enjoy an authentic green lung for the city, the Cascine di Tavola park, that was once part of the farming estate of the Medici Villa in Poggio a Caiano. The Medici villas are Unesco World Heritage. Emblematic sites that transmit spiritual values.
This visit shows what is Montserrat and its significance. The exhibition is based in the three fundamentals pillars: mountain, monastery and sanctuary, and allows to know how the mountain was formed, how and when began the monastic life and how Montserrat became a place of the devotion.
A Benedictine monk will explain about the monastic life, showing some spaces inside the monastery.
This activity connects with Cultural Tourism and Spiritual Tourism itself, because allows knowing the history of the monastery and sanctuary seeing, as well, the rests of the past of Montserrat which composes its artistic heritage:
Montserrat is a Nature Park and member of Global Network of UNESCO Geoparks, so for this, this activity is related to Eco-tourism.
The hermitages of the mountain: the origins of the Christian presence in Montserrat
In the Nature Park there are rests of some hermitages, a sample of the hermit’s life that has been a constant in Montserrat from IX century.
There is a route near the monastery that allows visiting the remains of some of these chapels and knowing about the life of hermits, a type of spiritual life.
This activity is specially related to Eco-tourism, Natural Spaces and Rural Landscapes, because it’s an itinerary by the mountain of Montserrat. Montserrat is a Nature Park and member of Global Network of UNESCO Geoparks.
It connects too with Cultural Tourism and Spiritual Tourism itself, because allows knowing a part of the history with some elements of the past of Montserrat that composes its artistic heritage.
This activity is a visit with explanations of the Romanesque monastery of Santa Cecilia, a place that combines the authenticity of one thousand years of history with the avant-garde works of Sean Scully, creating a space with strong spiritual meaning. At the end of the explanations the youngsters will participate answering some questions about the paintings to think about the contemporary art and his relationship with the spirituality.
This activity connects with Cultural Tourism and Spiritual Tourism itself, because allows knowing the history of the monastery with one thousand years of history and the paintings of one of the most internationally-celebrated contemporary artists: Sean Scully.
This Romanesque church is in the Nature Park of Montserrat, member of Global Network of UNESCO Geoparks, so for this, this activity is related to Eco-tourism.
This activity is the last stretch of the Ignatius’ Way (and a part of Saint Jame’s Way) that goes from Montserrat to Manresa. This itinerary offers the opportunity to experience a pilgrimage, following the spiritual process that made Ignacio, on March 1522. It will be with a pilgrim who will explain her own spiritual experience in her pilgrimage to Santiago.
In Manresa we’ll visit the Cave of Saint Ignatius.
This activity connects with Spiritual Tourism itself and Cultural Tourism, because allows knowing the history of the founder of the Jesuits, a pilgrimage route and the Baroque church of Saint Ignatius.
As Montserrat is a Nature Park and member of Global Network of UNESCO Geoparks, so for this, this activity is related to Eco-tourism, Natural Spaces and Rural Landscapes.
Night observation of a celestial body millions of kilometres
The youngsters will enjoy a night observation by an astronomer and science writer, with a full explanation of the observed celestial body and an introduction to practical astronomy. The observation of the celestial body millions of kilometres away is a different activity to do when time slows down and gives way to the peace and quiet of the surroundings.
This activity connects with Cultural Tourism and Spiritual Tourism itself, because allows knowing the several stars that we can see in our sky and a different activity such meditation, observation in the silent of the night.
As Montserrat is a Nature Park and member of Global Network of UNESCO Geoparks, so for this, this activity is related to Eco-tourism, Natural Spaces and Rural Landscapes.
Flowers and plants are used in cosmetics and perfumes, medicines, fragrances and flavors to the kitchen ... from yesterday until today. The Bible is also a compendium of wisdom that can be found even in the form of urban green spaces and natural grown. A real journey through natural history in the Old Quarter of Girona and its immediate surroundings. The visit can end with a taste of some of the plants mentioned during the visit.
This activity connects both culture and nature; it’s a way of explain culture trough nature and to approach spirituality from different perspectives, also trough walking.
The city of Girona has an important tradition linked to the Jewish presence. "Seven Gates to the Call" is a visit to the houses and landmarks of the Hebrew people stay in Girona. The route begins at the Jewish Museum. Then the visit follows to two emblematic Jewish houses: the house Colls and the house Laporta. The itinerary also includes a visit to Sant Domenech, scene of the Inquisition, and Torre Gironella. It can be concluded with a workshop and / or a tasting of Sephardic products.
This activity will allow understanding the history of the Jewish in Girona and they tried to live together with Catholic. It can be an example of historic memory but also of intercultural and interreligious dialogue.
The Therapeutic Forests project is based on studies carried in other countries like Japan and the United States. Accionatura is are working on creating a network of therapeutic forest trails in the region of Girona with the aim of promoting the welfare of its population; conserve the remaining mature forests of this region and promote health and wellness tourism. The first of these forests will be in Caldes de Malavella. The activity consists of a visit accompanied by a guide / therapist.
It is common knowledge that a walk through the woods brings welfare and closer to nature means a healthier life. Medical research shows that if this contact is with ancient forests, its benefits are physiological and psychological therapy: helps reduce stress, decreased blood pressure and pulse, increase the number of lymphocytes ... This will be an approach to spirituality through the contact with nature and developing an activity that generates welfare.
Museum Vaals is a situated in a former convent chapel , where more than 200 church images of 1 up to 3.5 meters overwhelm the visitors . Guests will receive information about the significance of the name and patron. There is also a large park with lots of religious art and a beautiful Lady Chapel.
Visitors have the possibility to learn more about the catholic faith, the saints and their significance.
This is the only American Second World War cemetery in the Netherlands. More than 8000 servicemen were buried here. The site covers 65.5 acres of land.
Each year on the last Sunday in May ‘Memorial Day’ is celebrated here.
The American Cemetery is a very serene and impressive site and a peaceful place to visit. Important, so people in The Netherlands and surrounding countries do not forget their liberators from WW2. Youngsters can experience a part of the history of Europe: WW2 and the liberators: the American soldiers, with their own eyes. They can almost feel the loss of lives at this location, with more than 8000 crosses lined up.
Ailbertus of Antoing founded the imposing abbey dwellings in 1104. For centuries it was a monastery for Augustinian canons, later becoming a seminary for priests. In the magnificent abbey church you can still see the crypt and the 18th century Rococo library, now used as a hotel and conference center.
The Abbey of Rolduc is a very spiritual site where visitors can breathe in several centuries of monkhood. It is one of the most important religious monuments in the Netherlands and the largest abbey complex in the Benelux countries and is on the UNESCO list of 100 most important monuments of the Netherlands.
In the 18th century the owner of Castle Wittem had built a chapel and a monastery. The pastoral care was at first entrusted to Capuchin fathers, later to the Redemptorists. Klooster Wittem has national reputation for St. Gerard Majella, who has developed into a counselor for many people, he - often miraculously - offered assistance and help.
Each year more than 150,000 people visit this pilgrimage. Formerly mostly in large groups, now mainly individual and less focused on St. Gerard Majella. Klooster Wittem developed in recent years into a place for reflection and inspiration. The Monastery Library plays an important role for musical performances, lectures and exhibitions. With a baroque monastery church and chapels, where daily services are held, a monastery garden, the monumental cloister convent library and bookstore, 'Wittem' is well equipped for a wide range of activities, from lectures to liturgy and pilgrimages to exhibitions and concerts.
Visitors can walk without shoes and socks through the Barefoot Park Brunssum and feed their feet with 100% natural stimuli. The Barefoot Park is adventurous, challenging, healthy and philosophical.
Walking (barefoot or not) puts people in motion and everything that seems to be stuck in their heads will be freed more easily. All elements and obstacles within the forest of the Barefoot Park will be used and make people literally make steps to overcome their fears in life.
The Geulhemmer quarry near Valkenburg) has an underground network of approximately 25 kilometers. One section is open to visitors. Remarkable places in the cave include the hidden chapel dated from the French Revolution, Block Breaker Museum, Orange Gallery with medallions of the House of Orange, a Fossil Museum and the rock house.
There are guided tours to visit the underground chapels in caves in and around Valkenburg.
Guides explain the meaning of numerous murals, made by man in difficult times, when faith was surpressed.
The walk takes visitors along the old citywalls of Sittard. The historical Stadstuin (city garden), Fortification Sanderbout , the Basilica (the first church in the Netherlands which has been elevated to basilica) and the historic Market square are also brought to the attention .
Sittard is one of the oldest cities in the Netherlands. It is also possible to book a guided tour that introduces visitors to the history, the monuments, the city figures, pictures, facades and walls, churches and the famous fort. Visiting the historical monuments take visitors back in time and they learn about the interesting history of Sittard.
The Lilbosch Abbey is a Cistercian abbey of the Trappists. The abbey is largely self-sufficient by its own farm, farming free-range pigs, suckler cows and beekeeping. The pigs are called Livar Pigs (short for Limburg pig). Maximum animal welfare results in a distinctive taste and meat quality.
Lilbosch Abbey is pleased to open the abbey gate for guests (7 rooms). The monks are trying, like all Trappist monks, to experience the essence of life pure and unvarnished. The agriculture and cultivation techniques as much as possible organic.
Thermae 2OOO is a spa at the top of a hill in Valkenburg, with magical views. There are in- and outside thermal baths, sauna’s, steam baths, whirlpools, beauty treatments and spa programs. This spa has the cleanest water in the Netherland with thermal forces, purified by hundreds of meters of deep soil and marl layers.
Thermae 2OOO has a lifestyle department, where professional lifestyle and dietary improvement is given by lifestyle coaches. For the sauna experience there is a wide range of daily vapors. Thermae 2OOO won the World Travel Award as Best Spa Resort of Holland for the third time in 2015. There are several sporty and relaxing activities that can be attended for free in the thermal baths. It is also possible to attend the special and exclusive activities within Thermae 2OOO, such as Watsu, a relaxing session or Rasul, an oriental treatment or follow a mindfulness course, in which you can learn how to find rest in a busy lifestyle.
Taking travel to the core of people’s desires
Guest blog post from pilot tester Ioana Alexandra Mereuta
The International Congress on Religious Tourism and Pilgrimage: The Potential of Sacred Places as a Tool for Sustainable Tourism Development will take place in Fatima, Portugal on the 22nd and 23rd of November 2017.
The SPIRIT YOUTH workshop “Marketing and commercialisation of Spiritual Tourism for young consumers” was organised by the partners of the consortium of the project Spirit Youth