Four kilometers from Ronta, on the Faentina Street, there is a picturesque group of houses called Razzuolo. The sailboat and the little church remind us of the important Abbey dedicated to the Apostle of Saint Paul. Next to the church and monastery, over the centuries, other houses were built and formed a picturesque village. In ancient times, Razzuolo was named a tallest place, near the hotel “Casa dell’Alpe”. From here the name of the country is born.

Giovanni Gualberto, founder of the Abbey of St. Paolo in Razzuolo

Shortly after the year 1000 is present in Ronta Giovanni Gualberto. The man, having taken the monastic dress in San Miniato al Monte, moved away from the country to mature his decision. Giovanni, together with a companion, almost started looking for a premonition of God. Historically, was verified the Giovanni Gualberto’s encounter with the monks of Camaldoli. This fact marked an important moment for John’s spiritual journey. The latter wanted to prepare men to come down to the field, evangelically formed in silence and prayer. In Vallombrosa, the invitation of God was bright. At the donation of many noble and faithful men who offered places to build monasteries, Gualberto built numerous religious buildings, including the Abbey of St. Paolo in Razzuolo.

The Abbey

With the Abbey of St. Paolo in Razzuolo, the founder created a more suitable environment for monks led to hermitage. At the same time he intervened directly in the rescue of the poor people. In the help of tired walkers, the doors of the Abbey of St. Paolo in Razzuolo opened for a plate of soup and, in the hospice, each one found a place to rest and take the energies to continue the journey the following day. The construction took place between 1035 and 1047. The papal bubbles of 1115 and 1198 confirm the monks’ ownership of this site. The Monks of Razzuolo, devoted to prayer and work, changed to the area. They broke out many areas and cut them down to fields, raised flocks, and taught mountain people the realization of cheese and coal production. They received so much esteem and veneration from the locals. The Abbey of St. Paolo in Razzuolo has over the centuries reached such importance as to be desired even by priests not belonging to the congregation of Vallombrosi. There is no precise date to determine the final step of the monks from Razzuolo to Ronta. One fact is certain: the monks never abandoned the ancient seat, indeed they cared for the restorations. A monk went every Sunday to say Mass and to teach catechism. In addition, the inn’s doors were kept open to provide bread and other food to the passengers. Since 1782, with the Grand Ducal decree, the Abbey of St. Paolo in Palazzuolo began to decay. Part of the ancient monastery was sold and the church itself, in the enlargement of a section of Faentina, was demolished until abandoned by the monks. The Second World War was the ruin that destroyed the whole fraction. The intervention of the Civilian Genius and the Superintendent of the Monuments brought back the church in 1959 to the primitive forms, those that the ruthlessness of time and the inconvenience of men had not destroyed.

The construction of the faentina carriage of 1826-46 involves the abolition of the apse part of the Abbey of St. Paolo in Razzuolo: the structure remains irremediably compromised. Shortly after, the entire transept also collapses. It is thus decided to turn the church’s orientation. Some traces of the original entry are still read today outside the current apse. The Abbey thus transformed into a single nave structure, covered with trusses, of great simplicity, with exposed stone walls. The facade, plastered, still has the remains of the ogival triumphal arch that separated the transept from the hall. Nothing has preserved the original furnishings of the church. Recent works have brought to light some environments of the ancient Badia.

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