Just in the middle of the National Park of The Casentino’s Forests(1), there are the imposing mass of the buildings of the Monastery and the Hermitage of the Camaldolesi Monks .
The Monastery is dedicated to the encounters, so there are some place to rest, next to the buildings there are some pic-nic tables, there is a church and a must-to-visit pharmacy where it is possible to buy products made by ancient recipes and where there is a little but very interesting museum that preserves ancient instruments to prepair galenic remedies, there is a convention-room, an important library and many other services, so especially on the week-end days there are always some visitors. The Hermitage, on the contrary to the Monastery, is more far from turistic itineraries, framed in the deep of the forest, and it is dedicated to the enclosure life of the Monks. The Camaldolesi are a congragation of St Benedict with the peculiarity that they practice both enclusure and encounter life.
This is a special marvellous place where the silence and the quiet dominate everywhere; the forest overtops and enwraps human settlements until they are melted together in an harmonic unit. The centenary silver fir are so high and so beautiful that the forest represents a perfect place for meditation and rest.
Around the Monastery and the Hermitage there are a lot of hiking paths that own to net of the National Park’s trekking and hiking itineraries. In this post I want to describe the one that, crossing the wood, link the two religious units. I walked on this path this year on Easter Monday; it was a gray rainy day and it seemed to be November as it is today. On Easter, the day before my walk, it snowed, so althought there were lots of visitors at the Monastery there were nobody hiking in the wood and I was alone with the silence of the nature, immersed in the marvellous color of the spring.
The first part of the path was uphill and connect to a hut called Catozzo, I crossed the fir forest where I founded a lot of print of boar, red deer, fallow-deer and roe, hedgehog and I could ear birds singing next to me.
The road I walked on was a medioeval ones, I could noticed here and there the stones and the tipical make up of that ancient paths. In about half an hour the aspect of the wood starting to change: there was more light on the top and the fir became mixed with beech trees.
In 50 minutes I arrived at the hut where there are the same trees but covered with moss that shown that there are very very old and also, as bioindicator, the high level of the environment quality of this forest. From this point over, the track follows the path in quite a flat plane. That day, as you could find now, there were some snow spot on the soil, but the first buds were on the trees… today in November, the leaves are fallen and the color are so special, lighter than usual.
In an hour I arrive at the cross with a secondary street that, always immersed in the wood, arrives at the Hermitage the place where the enclosure Monks live.
At the Hermitage it is possible to visit the church restored in XVII sec and the austere cells of San Romualdo the Benedectine that founded the Camaldolesi order.
To came back to the Monastery it is possible to go through a suitable street that in 30 minutes walk allows to come back to the starting point. Along these way, with two easy deviations, there are a little lake very important for amphibus life and an old bridge of the XIV century.
The path is about 5 miles long, with 1000 feet of difference in level.
It takes about 4 hours. I suggest to the one that wants to undertake this excursion to buy a map with the paths of the Casentinesi Forest’s National Park.
You can reach Camaldoli by car or by bus from the Bibbiena train station, but in this case you have to ask for the timetable because the runs are not frequently.
(1) Casentino is a region between Tuscany and Emilia-Romagna