The monastery of Camaldoli is situated near Poppi, three kilometres from the Camaldoli Hermitage. The place was also known by the name of Fontebuona for the quality of its waters of its fountain that Ambrogio Traversari had built at the site's entrance. The complex architecture is formed by an antique hospice or guesthouse, erected at the start of 1046, as the monks decided to build a small hospital in the vicinity of the monastery. However, the works that created the sombre monastery building that we see today began in the 16th century and concluded in 1611.
The building encircles the main cloister that presents on the sides exposed to the sun (south and west) a series of curved arches. On the north and east facing sides (the coldest) are a few windows. The higher floor of the cloister is characterised by some corridors with barrel vaults and in the longest there is a decoration constituted by a series of veils with varied ornaments. The monk’s cells open along the corridors.
Among the works of art of the monastery are seven paintings by Giorgio Vasari for the previous 15th-century building. The altarpiece depicts the Deposition of the Cross and is situated on the altar. Under the balconies where the monk choir stands there are two more of his small paintings, portraying Saint Donato and Saint Ilariano. Two other Vasari altarpieces are placed in the chapels near the presbytery. One represents Christ's Nativity and the other the Virgin on the throne between St John the Baptist and Saint Girolamo, the scenery in the background of this piece portrays the monastery and the guesthouse of Camaldoli how they would have appeared in the 15th century.
In the nave there are also four veiled representations of the Life of Saint Romualdo, all realised by Saint Pacini, author also of the alfresco of the Glory of Saint Romualdo.
[For more information: www.camaldoli.it]