of Florence. VALLOMBROSA. 65. Route. 559
D. 5, pens. 12-15 fr.) and the Hotel Croce di Savoia; »/2 M. farther
on is the Grand Hotel Castello di Acquábella (pens. 12-15 fr.).
The carriage-road leads through a dense grove of flrs to (11/4 M.)
Vallombrosa. The road which diverges to the right at the station
and passes the Scoglio del Saltino, a projecting rock with a flne view
of the Arno valley, is only a little longer.
The convent of Vallombrosa (3140 ft.), situated in a shaded and
sequestered spot on the N.W. slope of the Pratomagno chain, was
founded in 1015 and suppressed in 1866. The present buildings,
dating from 1637, have been occupied since 1870 by the Reale
Istituto Foréstale, the only advanced school of forestry in Italy.
There are now only three monks here, who celébrate service in the
church and attend to the meteorological observatory. Hotel: Albergo
della Foresta (the former Foresteria), R. from 372, B. 1, de'j. 272,
D. 4, pensión (L. and wine extra) 7-12, in July and August 8-12,
omn. from the cable-railway 'l¡% fr.; Trattoria Medici, plain.
The monastery of Vallombrosa was founded by San Giovanni Gualberto
(985-1073), thescion of a wealthy and powerful family of Florence, who after
a career of youthful profligacy resolved to devote the remainder of his lifo
to the most austere acts of penance. His brother Hugo having fallen by
the knife of an assassin, Gualberto was bound by the customs of the age
ío follow the bloody law of retaliation. Descending one Good Friday
f'"m the church of San Miniato near Florence, accompanied by armed fol-
vers, he suddenly encountered the assassin at a narrow part of the
:.„d. The latter fell at his feet and implored merey. The knight
orgave his enemy, and led him to San Miniato, where he himself assumed
the cowl. Finding the discipline there too lax, however, he betook himself
to this lonely spot and founded Vallombrosa.
II Paradisino (3336 ft.), a small hermitage situated on a rock,
74 hr. to the left above the monastery, is now an annexe to the Alb.
della Foresta (see above; rooms not very comfortable). The plat¬
form in front commands an admirable *Survey of the monastic
buildings, and of the broad valley of the Arno as far as Florence, half
of the cathedral-dome of which is visible behind a hill. The horizon
is bounded by the Alpi Apuane (R. 21). — Another walk may be
taken on the road leading from the hotel towards the N.E. along the
mountain-slopes viá Villa del Lago to the Consuma Pass (p. 660).
The ascent of the Secchieta (4755 ft.), the N. summit of the Pi-alo-
mugno Chain, from Vallombrosa oceupies 172-2 hrs. (guide not indispensable
for experts). The path diverges to the right, a little before we reach the
Paradisino (see above) and ascends to the S.E. mostly through dense pino
forest and afterwards over pastures, passing the so-called Romitorio della
Macinaia, to the crest of the ridge, which it reaches at a narrow depres-
sion. Henee we ascend to the left to (25 min.) the Tabernacolo di Don
Piero, an oíd chapel commanding a splendid "View. To the E. lies the
green Casentino Valley, bounded on the N.E. by the lofty Monte Falterona,
where the Arno rises; to the W. the fertile and richly-cultivated valley
of the Arno stretches as far as the dome of the cathedral of Florence,
bayond which the blue Mediterranean is sometimes visible in the extreme
distance. — We may return to Vallombrosa from the chapel by keeping
to the N.W., viá the Croce Rossa; or we may descend to the W. from
the Romitorio to Saltino direct via, the bare ridge of the Bocea di Lupo.
From the Segnale di Pratomagno (5223 ft.), the highest summit of the
Pratomagno chain (4-5 hrs. from Vallombrosa, with guide) a steep patb