This abandoned abbey and the still intact church nearby boast a fascinating history tied to Galgano Guidotti, a significant 12th-century figure. The repentant Galgano supposedly plunged his sword (previously used for wicked deeds) into a stone atop Montesiepi. The sword’s hilt created a cross, which was seen as a sign of his newfound piety. As a result of this sensation, the man and place were sanctified, later visited by pilgrims and monks. This became the site of a round church still standing today, where visitors can still find the stone and sword hilt. Word of the sword artifact undoubtedly spread quickly throughout Europe; it’s possible that this sword is the very source of King Arthur’s legend. A few decades later, in 1218, a large complex was built in the valley below, which became the Abbey of San Galgano.
The church is free for visitors, and its round shape and domed ceiling make the space inside a great resonating chamber. Next to the chapel you’ll find an herbalist shop offering many products (soaps, oils, jams, liqueurs) made by various local artisans or other monastic colonies in Tuscany.
The abbey ruins can be visited by paying a small price for the incredible experience of strolling through the haunting space. The abbey was mostly left to ruins by the 1600s, and its roof and bell tower collapsed in the late 1700s, making it a source of stone for other local buildings until historians and archaeologists began working to preserve its remains.