An oasis of peace and tranquillity, surrounded by nature. The abbey constructed in 1028 by San Giovanni Gualberto, who founded the Vallombrosa Benedictine confraternity, recognised in 1055 by Pope Vittore II lies in the Tuscan-Emiliano Apennines, at an altitude of 1000 metres, surrounded by an age-old forest. The current complex of buildings was constructed between 1450 and 1470; in 1529 it was seriously damaged following the passage of the army of Charles V and it was restored in the 17th century, taking on the characteristics of a castle.
For many centuries a centre for spiritual contemplation, it became rich over time thanks to numerous donations from wealthy families in the area. In the Napoleonic era, following a decree which laid down the suppression of all religious confraternities, issued by the French government, the monks were forced to abandon the abbey (which was entrusted to the care of a peasant from the Paternò farm) and to wear secular clothing. The monastery was restored in 1815 and in 1869, under King Vittorio Emanuele II, it became the headquarters of the Italian Forestry Institute, which was entrusted with protecting the forests (an activity which had been carried out for centuries by the monks). San Giovanni Gualberto has indeed been the patron saint of forests and of foresters in
Inside the monastery there is an important library conserving the painting The donation of Matilde di Canossa to
In the summer the monastery organises organ concerts and painting exhibitions for all kinds of visitors. From July to September the guest quarters of Vallombrosa can accommodate individuals and groups wishing to experience a moment of intense spirituality, also thanks to the study of spiritual exercises. It is a place which is also open to those who just wish to get to know and try out a different way of life or to discover the treasures of Italian art and the fruits of the earth.