San Galgano

Discovering San Galgano’s Abbey

Important remains from one of Tuscany’s most famous monasteries

The part of Tuscany that lies between Siena and Massa Marittima hosts spectacular ruins of the Abbey of San Galgano, the home of one of the most important monasteries in Tuscany. The noble knight Galgano Guidotti became a Cistercian monk and built a chapel on Mount Siepi in 1180, where he chose to die as a hermit. The Cistercian monks later built a chapel and a larger building to honor the monk, who had since become a saint. The Monastery of San Galgano is a truly splendid building, Today, it is considered one of the best examples of Gothic-Cistercian architecture in Italy. In 1300, the abbey was destroyed by the troops commanded by Giovanni Acuto. In 1400, the area experienced a period of decline, which then culminated in the decision to abolish monastic orders.

The nearby Hermitage of Montesiepi is surrounded by a unique mystery that rings of ‘Excalibur’. San Galgano placed his sword in a stone 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, just four years after his death, Pope Lucius III proclaimed him saint, while the holy bishop of Volterra, Ugo Saladini ordered him to be buried next to the boulder that still holds his sword. The chapel was built around it, which created its unique round shape.