The Abbey of Vallombrosa and its forest

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The Abbey of Vallombrosa between nature, art and spirituality

Vallombrosa is a place to satisfy various interests: the naturalistic, historical-artistic, recreational and spiritual ones. Vallombrosa is a combination of the monastic settlement and forest which over the centuries has been shaped by the activity of the vallombrosian monks. Located on the west side of Pratomagno, Vallombrosa started attracting the tourism between the 19th and the 20th centuries. The main attractions are the Abbey, the natural reserve and arboretums.

What to see in Vallombrosa

The abbey of Vallombrosa

The abbey and the congregation of Vallombrosa were founded in 11th century by Giovanni Gualberto. First mentioned in a document of 1037, the abbey during the middle age accumulated several possessions and his congregation expanded into North-Central Italy and in Sardinia.

The stylish and stern complex is in the appearance of the seventeenth-century makeover, came after a series of phases that lasted from the middle ages until the baroque renovation.

The church

Consecrated in 1038, the church was rebuilt in romanesque style during the 13th century; on that occasion the bell tower was erected. The facade was subsequently rebuilt in 1644 when the porch  was added. The Church has a Latin cross plan and is decorated with numerous frescoes and paintings.

The monaster

Started in the eleventh century, the monastery fwas extended a first time in the 13th century and a second in the 15th. Date from the middle of the fifteenth century many buildings as the main cloister (modified in 1753), the Chapter House, refectory and part of the monumental kitchen. In the 17th century were rebuilt the novitiate and the sacristy.

Abbey of Vallombrosa
Abbey of Vallombrosa (Photo by JacobH / CC BY)

The Forest of Vallombrosa

The forest of Vallombrosa is composed by fir trees, planted over the centuries by monks, mixed with beeches, chestnut trees and larches pines. In 1977 the forest was classified as natural biogenetic reserve.

The abbey represent the heart of the forest and around it there are many chapels, tabernacles and crosses related to episodes of the history of the monastery. Some of these stands along the “Scalinata del Calvario” (The steps of Calvary) that leads from the Abbey to the “Paradisino” (small paradise), a place where a time the hermit monks withdrew.

Absolutely worthy of interest are the Arboretums. These are important collections of trees including indigenous species and exotic trees.

What to do in Vallombrosa

Known to be a place of relaxation, Vallombrosa has numerous trails suitable for those who want to hike. In this area there are many opportunities for playing sports; for example, in the last few years was organized a 24 kilometers run called “Vallombrosa Trail”.

How to get to Vallombrosa

By car: from Florence, about 50 kilometers, take the highway A1 till the exit for Incisa, then strada provinciale 85.
By bus: line 343 (Florence-Pontassieve-Saltino-Vallombrosa) company Autolinee Mugello Valdisieve.

Useful informations

Opening hours of the abbey
Winter: 9.00-12.00 and 15.00-18.00
Summer: 6.00-12.00 and 15.00-19.00.

Hours of the Mass
July-August: weekdays 07.00 and 10.00 – holydays 9.30, 11.00, 17.00 and 18.00
September-June: weekdays 07.00 – holydays 11.00 and 17.00 – day before holydays: 16.30

Official website

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