In the stretch of Tuscany between Siena and Massa Marittima, immersed in the countryside, there are the spectacular remains of the San Galgano Abbey, one of the most important Tuscan monasteries. The noble knight Galgano Guidotti became a Cistercian monk and erected a chapel on Montesiepi in 1180, where he chose to live as a hermit the rest of his life. The Cistercian monks subsequently made an abbey and an oratory built in honor of Galgano, who became saint.
The Monastery of San Galgano is an amazing building, considered to be one of the most prestigious examples of Italian Gothic-Cistercian architecture. In 1300, the Abbey was devastated by the troops commanded by Giovanni Acuto and in 1400 began the period of decadence and abandon by the monastic orders.
The nearby Montesiepi hermitage with its mysterious Excalibur, the sword that San Galgano plunged into a rock, when he decided to abandon his life as a wealthy gentleman. Galgano’s gesture of peace and his short and intense life strongly moved his contemporaries. In 1185, only four years after his death, Pope Lucius III proclaimed him saint, and the holy bishop of Volterra, Ugo Saladini, wanted him to be buried next to the boulder that still holds his sword. The chapel was built around it, following a unique round shape.