There are monasteries in different parts of Italy that can be interesting places to visit or – in some cases – provide a budget accommodation option. In the Casentino Valley of Tuscany, there are two big historic monasteries that are definitely worth visiting.
Should you be interested in exploring some of the less famous monasteries in the area, check with the tourist information office in Arezzo for more detailed maps. This area is very rural, and you’ll need a car to get around, so having detailed maps is very important.
Sanctuary of La Verna
La Verna is an important place in religious history, since it’s where St. Francis of Assisi received the stigmata in 1224. A few years later, construction began on the small chapel that still marks the spot where St. Francis received the stigmata. Over time, to deal with the large numbers of pilgrims flocking to La Verna, a more extensive network of buildings was constructed – the La Verna Sanctuary now consists of a few churches (some of which have noteworthy art) built from the 13th through 16th centuries. The sanctuary’s location, high up in the Apennine mountains overlooking the Casentino Valley, also means visitors are often treated to spectacular views.
Holy Hermitage and Monastery of Camaldoli
The Camaldoli hermitage and monastery is also built in the thick Casentino forest, within the grounds of a National Park. The hermitage was founded in the early 11th century by a Benedictine monk. As the name “hermitage” suggests, monks here live a secluded life of prayer and reflection. They also produce and sell medicinal liqueurs from herbs found in the nearby forest. The part of the hermitage open to the public includes an 11th century monk’s cell and a Baroque chapel. The monastery, built in the 16th century, is a few miles away.