If you’re traveling throughout or have previously been to Italy, it’s likely you’ve seen your fair share of cathedrals; big, small, impressive, or otherwise. One cathedral that sets itself miles apart from the others in Italy is the Abbey of San Galgano, halfway between Siena and Massa Marittima in Tuscany. This breathtaking building has an interesting legend to go along with its history, but its the remains of San Galgano’s structure that will completely capture your attention the moment you set eyes on it. Both unsettling and mesmerizing, you’ll be talking about the Abbey of San Galgano many years after your visit.
I won’t go into the details of the man San Galgano, but to give you a very brief summary: he was born in 1148 and later became a ruthless knight who was eventually led to sanctuary at Monte Siepi, a rugged hill under Chiusdino where a temple lay. This temple, as I’m sure you can already guess, is the Abbey of San Galgano that you see today. If you’re interested in knowing more, you can read a relatively short write-up of this legend here, the truth of which is still up for debate.
Once you enter the building, you’ll likely walk past a few men who are carving out intricate objects and designs in marble. Feel free to watch for a little while, as the talent and art that goes into these intricate carvings is truly impressive and commendable.
From the outside, the Abbey of San Galgano may not seem entirely striking, aside from its shear size. However, the moment you step inside, you’ll see what all the fuss is about: for a floor, you’ll find dirt and for a roof, you’ll find the sky. This, along with the lack of color throughout the building, makes for an almost eerie, yet very humbling and peaceful experience. Though there isn’t much to see once you’re inside the abbey, you should spend some time walking around and appreciate the uniqueness of the Abbey of San Galgano.
The Abbey of San Galgano Website (in Italian)
Address: Click here for a link to Google Maps
Hours: November to March from 9:00 to 17:30; April, May and October from 9:00 to 18:00; June and September from 9:00 to 19:00; July and August from 9:00 to 20:00.
Price: € 2.00