Now that my project about Tuscany over the seasons is over, I have decided to start a new project: Tuscany through my eyes. Well, more or less… I am planning on publishing one or more photos of Tuscany every week, and not just some beautiful photos, but images that “match” the way I see my beautiful region at that time of the year. I will publish photos that I have taken and photos that I have not taken but I wish I had! 52 posts to show you Tuscany the way I see it and feel it. Here are the other posts in the series.
Week 24 – The Abbey of San Galgano
So this week I have a real treat. The post won’t be about Tuscany as I see it, but as two lovely guests of Casina di Rosa, our vacation rental in Southern Tuscany, see it. Thank you Helen and Brian Barrett for this amazing gift for our blog!
They took a daytrip to San Galgano Abbey on a glorious mid May morning.
San Galgano Abbey is one of the most beautiful monuments in Tuscany. The site is made up of two major attractions: the gothic roofless
cathedral, which you see in these photos, and the unusually shaped monastery of Montesiepi, and ancient hermitage, which hosts the tomb of San Galgano and the sword in the stone. Yes, the sword in the stone as in the Arthurian legends, which, by the way, are said to have originated here.
The Abbey of San Galgano was built in the 13th century when the old chapel and monastery became too small for the pilgrims who visited the
tomb of the saint from Siena. Saint Galgano Abbey was Tuscany’s first pure Gothic church, and it was later used as the model for the Cathedral of Siena. The abbey is built according to the typical Cistercian plan based on a Latin cross with three aisles, rich in carved capitals and rose windows, with a cloister, halls, and, “atypically”, a bell tower.
Over the centuries the rivalries between Siena and Florence condemned the abbey to a slow but irreversible decline, and at the end of the
18th century the bell tower collapsed destroying a great part of the roof of the church. The abbey was abandoned and the bricks and stones
were used by the builders of the area to build houses and other small churches. Thanks to several restorations the cathedral is now one of
the most beautiful and fascinating ruins in Tuscany, and it is well worth a visit.
Many legends have been created to account for the absence of the roof. One of the most popular among the poor farmers of the Val di Merse was that Napoleon had stolen the supposedly golden roof of the cathedral.
San Galgano Abbey is easily reached from Casina di Rosa with a short 25 minute drive. From the village of Monticiano you can reach it via the walking trail which has been recently created.
If you decide to stop for lunch or dinner, Salendo Wine Bar makes for the perfect stop for a light brunch. They serve cold dishes made out of locally produced specialties combined with the most suitable glass of wine. Tell our friend Paola, the manager, we recommended the bar!