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San Galgano

Mysterious Tuscany: 3 places suspended between history and legend

From the Etruscans to the Renaissance, in the wake of mystery

Tuscany is an ancient land, where so much history has passed, from the Etruscans to the Renaissance: this is why it is so rich of mysterious places, where historical events are intertwined with legends. Today we take you to discover three of these corners suspended in time, which are absolutely worth a visit.

  • 1.
    Abbey of Saint Galgano
  • 2.
    The Bottini of Siena
  • 3.
    The Vie Cave

Abbey of Saint Galgano

Abbey of Saint Galgano
Abbey of Saint Galgano - Credit: Vignaccia76

Let's start with the Abbey of Saint Galgano, which is located in the countryside around Chiusdino, a medieval village in the Terre di Siena. A fascinating building that dates back to the 13th century and that today is open-air, that is, roofless, because it has been without a roof since the 18th century: even the floor no longer exists, and all that remains of its former splendor are the columns and majestic facades.

But the Abbey is also famous for another reason: next door is in fact the Hermitage of Montesiepi, a chapel where the only sword in the rock known in the world is located: according to the legend, this sword stuck firmly inside a boulder allegedly belonged to St. Galgano, the knight who planted it in the rock just when he decided to abandon all his possessions to devote himself to the spiritual life.


The Bottini of Siena

Bottini of Siena
Bottini of Siena - Credit:

Legend weaves history also into Siena's underground. Dante in the Divine Comedy states that under the city of the Palio flows the Diana, a mythical river that has, however, never been found: in reality, it is the Bottini, a network of more than 25 kilometers of tunnels dug into the tuff since Roman times that are nothing more than an aqueduct. The Bottini are a masterpiece of hydraulic engineering for the knowledge of the time: for centuries this underground network collected rainwater and brought it to the homes of the Sienese and still feeds several fountains in the city, including Fonte Gaia in Piazza del Campo.


The Vie Cave

Vie Cave of Sorano
Vie Cave of Sorano - Credit: Marta Mancini

We move to the Maremma to take a fascinating walk in the Vie Cave: carved out of the tuff by the Etruscans in the depths of the woods, these stone paths with walls up to twenty meters high remain a mystery, halfway between communication routes and necropolises for the dead, and are very fascinating to walk along. The Vie Cave are located in the area that connects Sovana, Sorano and Pitigliano.

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