What can be more mysterious than an old abandoned mansion populated by spirits and secrets of its former inhabitants?
Maybe a deconsecrated abbey?
If you are of the same opinion, curious and looking for a place with a story to tell, here is the destination not to miss – the Abbey of San Galgano in Tuscany near Chiusdino and only some 30 km away from Siena.
The abbey was built by the Cistercian monks in the 13th century. Their religious order was founded in France from where it brought to Italy the newly born Gothic style in architecture. Thus the Abbey of San Galgano became the first Gothic church in Tuscany having, though, a more classical shape of the Latin cross.
The Cistercian monks, as their usual, chose a particular place for the construction of the abbey – close to the river where the surrounding territory could be cultivated. So, the monastic community was born.
In 1329 the community was hit by a severe famine. And as we all know trouble never comes alone: only some years later in 1348 the community was also badly hit by the plague. Afterwards, the surrounding lands got devastated by mercenary bands. It made the monks move to Siena at the end of the 15th century. The sad destiny of the Abbey reached its climax in 1786 when a lightning struck its bell tower that collapsed destroying the roof of the abbey and, as a consequence, the church was deconsecrated.
Apart from visiting the abbey you can’t miss the Chapel of Monte Siepi built at the end of the 12th century on the place where Saint Galgano retired to live as hermit.
Saint Galgano’s story is similar to that of the more famous Saint Francis. He was born in Chiusdino where he lived until he was 20. It was then that the Archangel Michael appeared to him in dream twice. Saint Galgano started to preach and retired to the life of hermitage.
When he met Pope Alessandro III, the later gave him encouragement and blessings to build an abbey in the proximity of Monte Siepi.
It was exactly in the hermitage of Monte Siepi where Saint Galgano performed his only known miracle deeply embedding his knight’s sword into a stone as a symbol of peace, to definitely dive up arms and start a new life in faith.
Saint Galgano died when he was 33, exactly the same year in which Saitn Francis was born.
The story of Saint Galgano’s sword seems a true reflection of the legend of King Arthur and his own sword which, on the contrary, though, wasn’t stuck into the stone but was extracted from it.
The legendary farewell to the arms of Saint Galgano and the tragic story of the abbey dedicated to his life can become a true inspiration exercised by a charming, spiritual and to many a truly mysterious place – the ruins of the Abbey of San Galgano.
This destination, curious, picturesque and attractive, can become a great idea for a one-day road trip from Siena or from Grosseto for anyone on a dream vacation in this spectacular area of Tuscany.
Photos credit: Machs Gut (c)