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San galgano e dintorni

San Galgano

The amazing San Galgano religious complex, stands just 3 km far away from our farm holidays. It includes the hermitage named Rotonda di Montesiepi and a large Cistercian abbey: beauty and mystical atmosphere make it a magical place which enchants all its visitors.
If, on the one hand, the lack of the roof makes it a distinctive example in the panorama of both Tuscan and Italian religious architecture, on the other hand, it suggests a likely association to the most remarkable features of several northern European gothic abbeys, such as Melrose and Kelso in Scotland, Tintern in Wales, Cashel in Ireland and Eldena in Germany.

Galgano Guidotti (born in Chiusdino in 1148) was a knight who, after a disorderly youth, determined to live as a hermit on the hill of Montesiepi, devoting himself intensively to prayer, with the same passion and effort he had spent to lead his dissolute life before.

The most impressive moment of his religious conversion is when Galgano stuck his sword into the ground on the hill of Montesiepi, in order to turn the weapon into a cross.
Inside the Rotonda it is still possible to see the legendary “Sword in the Stone”: its authenticity is certified by historical-scientific studies that date it back precisely to the 12th century.

The history of San Galgano and his sword inevitably brings us back to the legends of King Arthur and his knights. Moreover, several strong hypotheses point out possible links between those two lands and their stories, even if they are geographically so far away from each other.

Besides, the whole architectural complex shows evident relations between northern Europe and eastern countries. Those relations took place especially throughout the period when pilgrims often moved to farthest lands by going through Via Francigena and its numerous branches.

Among them there were architects, engineers and artists who were very eager to leave traces of their art in those places they passed by, right because they were so far away from their home villages.
The “loophole” placed behind the altar inside the hermitage is a meaningful example of an amazing technical skilfulness.

On the Summer Solstice, which occurs every June 21, something extraordinary happens in that place at dawn: the sun gets inside that holy place by the loophole and keeps its round shape. It is definitely a unique and unforgettable experience! The place becomes full of an incredibly bright light and you feel it conveys lots of allegorical and mystical meanings. It is absolutely a compelling evidence of those ancient workers’ remarkable knowledge and skilfulness.

The hermitage dates back to the 12th century. It was completed by those hermits who continued to live there after Galgano’s death, in 1181.
Later, in the 14th century, the hermitage was enlarged by building an atrium and a side chapel which was decorated with valuable frescoes by Ambrogio Lorenzetti.



Chiusdino belongs to the province of Siena, in fact it is located just over thirty kilometers south-west of it, on the main road which leads to Massa Marittima. It stands on one of the Colline Metallifere (Metalliferous Hills’) summits, far from the major roads.
Throughout the centuries, the territory of Chiusdino has been deeply affected by the anthropic principle which brought many changes since the High Middle Ages.
Chiusdino is a very ancient town, in fact its origin likely dates back to the Lombard domination in Tuscany. The Lombards penetrated in Italy between 568 and 569; not long after, they managed to defeat the Eastern Roman Empire army and to conquer all the provinces north of Po river.
Then, in 572, they occupied also the western territories of Tuscany, that is, those lands included between Cecina and Ombrone rivers, in other words, those lands covering most of the Colline Metallifere (Metalliferous Hills) area.
Not long after the new conquest, the Lombards decided to found a town where to live, in order to organise very closely the administrative new organisation of the territory, both by creating military units called Arimannie, and by building fortifications called either clusae or clausurae meant to check strictly all the passes and to collect their duties.


Colline metallifere (METALLIFEROUS HILLS)

Most of its territory is hilly, with the exceptions of some peaks, such as Poggio di Montieri, Cornate di Gerfalco and Carline di Travale, which are higher than 1000 meters above sea level.

It is a territory rich in several underground mineral resources.

In an area belonging both to the province of Pisa and the province of Grosseto, there are also several geysers, which suggest the presence of geothermal energy sources. Part of this energy is exploited by Enel Company for providing electricity by Larderello, Lago Boracifero and Aia dei Diavoli power plants.

Several streams and rivers flow from the Metalliferous Hills: among them, the most important are the Cecina, the Cornia and the Merse.

Biancane Natural Park is a protected natural area not far from the village of Monterotondo Marittimo on the border of Pisa Province . There are many different kinds of geothermal activities such as geysers and steam emissions from the soil exploited by man.

Biancane Natural Park is a very particular site, the action of geothermal energy has profoundly transformed the landscape, redesigning it with shapes and colours creating a fascinating and unique environment. Here you can see up close some spectacular geothermal manifestations shapes: the heat from the Earth’s core that rises to the surface creates spontaneous phenomena such as fumaroles and geysers.

We walk among these warm rocks and from the steam that comes out of the ground, we have the impression of being in an unreal landscape, magical and unearthly. Even the silence that prevails in this little secluded place, interrupted occasionally by hissing and puffing, contributes to a feeling of curious disorientation.



Agriturismo Il Mulino delle Pile

Località il Mulino delle Pile 53012 Chiusdino (Siena)
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