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The monastic complex was comprehensive of the modern-day structure which holds the museum, part of what is now the restaurant and cemetery. For the construction of the abbey, the monks followed the lines that had been imported from Middle Eastern hermitages. First of all, it was important to insure the nourishment of the monks and therefore a vegetable garden and pens for the animals were built. The structure also included rooms in which to host the poor, the ill and the elderly. The monks were obliged to host, help and feed wanderers for three days. There were also numerous pilgrims who went from one monastery to another in the hopes of fighting hunger.


According to Stefano Casini, there was also a pharmacy that held natural drugs and remedies, which were prepared with herbs found in the garden and in the forest. They were among the very few who could read and write and dedicated much of their time to studying medicine. A fire burned in the fireplace at all times to welcome travellers and cure the ill. They already knew the beneficial properties of honey and beekeeping techniques. The monks wore long robes of wool dyed with walnut hulls, which gave them their typical brown hue. They did not wear belts, which were only introduced in the 14th century and after the coming of Saint Francis.
“They (the monks), finding themselves with  uncouth, armed populations who were used to thieving, could do nothing but show charity, helping the poor, abandoned country folk overcome terrible difficulties, and instilling love in their studies of agriculture.”


The monks taught the people of the area how to work the land, giving the families a part to work directly so they would not abandon these rugged mountains. According to some, they introduced the principal of small land owners, renting the land infinitely to those who would never have been able to purchase it otherwise.  Initially, the characteristics of the location were fit for pastures only, but slowly the monks were able to work the land and sow it.  Thus the production of chestnuts began (some of the trees in the area stem back to that era), passing down trimming and pruning techniques, that is to say the gathering of fresh offshoots, used for farm animals during the long winters. They planted evergreens, possibly to remember the mother house in Vallombrosa, or maybe as a symbol of isolation.  Some writings also bear witness to the existence of small vineyards and olive groves. They also hosted the poor and the ill and were a point of reference for wanderers, to whom the safest roads and trails were laid out. The main part of their income went towards funding acts of charity, like the running of hospitals in Frena, Rifredo, Pietramala, Monzuno and Cornio. Some of these structures were later turned into shelters for wanderers, but this activity, too, was considered charity, so much so that the monks in Razzuolo were allowed to cut wood for the inn in forests where it was not usually permitted.

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