Camaldoli: monks and forests

Camaldoli: monks and forests

Spirituality and nature

Camaldoli is a name identifying not only one of the lighthouse of the spirituality in Casentino but also a nature reserve inside the “Parco delle Foreste Casentinesi”.

This extraordinary naturalistic context has been created by Camaldolese monks who gradually planted forests of silver fir. The fir was a model for themselves to be inspired by and something that they could wisely handled for about eight centuries.

But how these monks, who were first connected to the nature in addition to God, did get here? It was Romuald, noble of Ravenna, who founded the first monastic community in 1012 even if the foundation probably dates back to 1023. Only in this year, Teodaldo the bishop  who authorized their institution is documented as the head of the diocese of Arezzo.

Romuald had became a monk in the montastery of Sant’Apollinare in Classe but very soon he had abandoned it, completely dissatisfied of his life.

From Venice, where he moved at first, he arrived in Cuxa, Pyrenees, following the abbot of the well-known local monastery. Then, after 10 years of a fruitful hermetic life, he came back to Italy where he started and itinerant life.




Only in 1023 Romuald was maybe forced by the bishop of Arezzo to establish a small oratory and 5 cells in Casentino, Campo Amabile. A small hospice was added to the complex, later turned into a small monastery.

Although monks continue to live in seclusion inside the quiet hermitage, you can visit St Romuald’s cell. That is not only matches the plan of the others, but has also a great spiritual and historical value.

Downward, the austere monastery is the place where monks experience common life, providing hospitaly. A very interesting place to visit is the ancient Pharmacy. In the past, it provided medicine for the care of the monks, the guests and the local communities.

At the end, the baroque Church of Santi Donato and Ilariano is an excellent opportunity to see the early works of Giorgio Vasari, who would later become Cosimo I de’ Medici most trusted artist.



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