However, instead of long, flowing beards and cave dwellings, the modern hermit can usually be found in a city apartment, and is even sometimes connected to the internet for convenience.
"At the risk of sounding like a caricature, the average hermits are the sort of people who belong on the plains," he said.
However, he added, many have found it is perfectly possible to be totally alone in the middle of a bustling city.
"The requests to take up a hermit’s life have multiplied, although there is no institutional guide on how to do it," said Mr Turina.
Professor Isacco Turina, a sociologist at the University of Bologna, tracked down 37 hermits for his work: The New Hermits, The Flight from the World in Modern Italy.He said there are now as many as 1000 hermits in Italy, with several hundred more dotted across Europe and the US.Mr Turina added that 60 per cent of hermits were female, and that many hermits had dropped out of monasteries and nunneries because they became disillusioned."There is a sentiment of protest at the way the Church goes about things," he said. New Year’s Eve was always a battle as they (and yes, all three of them felt the same) wanted to go out and have THE BIGGEST NIGHT EVAH!!!
I’m not particularly shy, and can be downright gregarious in the right situation, but on the whole, I prefer my own company. The three big relationships of my life were with extroverted men who had lots of friends and like to hit the town at every opportunity.