The origins of the Abbey of Montescalari are lost in the Medieval nights
The historians agree on the fact that it was the fourth Abbey after Vallombrosa, founded by SanGiovangualberto and they place its foundation around 1040.
Emanuele Repetti (historian, 1776-1852) remembers it had been a ‘monastery of secular monks’ when in January of the year 1040, the noblemen of the nearby Castello di Cintoia offered these inhabitants of the convent various plots of land situated near it. It is most likely that after those donations St.Giovangualberto introduced there the rule of the Vallombrosans. Prior Fedele Sodani, Vallombrosan and founder of the Abbey at Coltibuono, mentions the year 1038 for the foundation of Montescalari, but we have no clue on which documentation this statement is based.
The Abbey of Montescalari, like other big monastic estates, has been subjugated by the Republic of Florence to a ‘regime in commandam’ a real disaster for the big and opulent abbeys.
This regime was proclaimed by the same Florentine Republic on May 14, 1455 but, even though its various chiefs in command impoverished a part of its antique riches in favour of the Republic, in the two following centuries the Abbey reclaimed its natural role of centre of power.
The centrality of its power is also demonstrated by the numerous works that the Florentine Renaissance has produced on commission of the monks, amongst all the bronze bell realised by Verrocchio lost by now, a crucifixion attributed to Bernardo di Stefano Rosselli that goes back to the end of the 1400’s, numerous traces of fresco’s hidden by layers of posthumous paint, probably going back to the first half of the ‘400s entirely to be appraised and studied, as well as the coat of arms attributed to Luca Della Robbia.
The 16th and 17th centuries were rather troubled for the entire Order of Vallombrosa and such fortuneconsented the monks of Montescalari to renovate and enlarge the complex. The next 18th century, the last for the monastic community of Vallombrosa, was different.
After the transfer of the last monks the Abbey was put on auction in 1930 e bought by the noble familyRosselli Del Turco that retained ownership until the beginning of the 1990’s.
The premises and consistency
The Abbey of Montescalari consists mainly of three levels (ground floor, first floor and basement)and is made of stone, cotto tiles and wood.
There are two inner courts, in one of which there is a stone well on which one can see the coat of arms of the Abbey, and a loggia on two of the four sides of it.
Worth mentioning are the huge stables in the basement, the big salon that leads to a splendid garden, the church that was bombed during WWII and partially rebuilt in 1945,
Part of the complex are two farmhouses at some 100m distance of the Abbey.
In total the gross surface of the Abbey is ca. 5000m2 and 1200m2 for the farmhouses. The complex is situated in a large territory covered with woods and surrounded by its own land for a property of about a 100ha.