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Vallombrosa is famous for its Benedictine abbey. Located c. 30 km south-east of Florence, in the Apennines, it is surrounded by forests of beech and firs. It was founded by Giovanni Gualberto, a Florentine noble, in 1038 and became the mother house of the Vallumbrosan Order. It was extended around 1450, reaching its current aspect at the end of the 15th century. In 1529, after the looting of Charles V, the east tower was built, in the 17th century followed the wall and in the 18th century the fishing ponds.
The very first forestry school to exist in Italy, the Istituto Forestale di Vallombrosa founded August 15, 1869, was hosted in the abbey. It offered a three year course to provide a technical training to the personal of the Italian Foresty Administration with the aim to "conserve with a wise government Italy's deteriorating forest land".
In 1914, the Institute of Vallombrosa was moved to Florence and became the Institute Superiore Forestale Nazionale under the direction of Arrigo Serpieri, a distinguished economist, who later became state secretary at the ministry of Agriculture and Forest.
In Vallombrosa it is currently located the Learning Center "Il Paradisino". In summer, students of the Faculty of Forestry follow here practical courses, thus completing the theoretical part of the teachings taught in Florence.