Abbazia di San Galgano
We are both feeling a little tinge of sadness. This is Marty’s last full day here at Casamonti and in Toscana. Where did two weeks go, and so very quickly? I’ve mentioned earlier the time warp we’ve lived in here….no doubt it exists.
We chose to sleep in a bit, then leisurely prepared for the day. Departure took us southerly towards the Abbazia di San Galgano, the Monastery of St. Galgano. We stopped off in Costal Pino for a lunch at a medium sized trattoria and had one of our less exceptional meals. It was good, but obviously priced for the tourist pocket. Full, we felt some satisfaction at having bolstered the town economy in small way.
This day was stellar in beauty. How can each successive day be more gorgeous? Or maybe not…just another overexposure to extreme beauty in every direction and no human ability to fully ingest and describe it. Our drive took us through small hamlets and some of the winding-est roads yet….Sovicille, Rosia, Frosini, and more. San Galgano is an abby built in the 1200’s by a following of Cinestercian monks who honored their mentor, an ex-knight by the name of Galgano. Galgano had had enough of the knightly way of doing things, and renounced his former life to become a hermit in the mountains of this area. I’m not quite clear if he did anything good for co-humanity or just hung out, but he did plunge his knight sword into a rock where it was fully buried up to the hilt – his version of creating a cross since he did not have one. The sword in the stone is displayed in the Chapel of San Galgano near the abby, and has actually been dated to show origin in the 1200’s. It was pretty cool to see. And if all this holds up, this "sword in the stone" predates King Arthur's tale and is said to be the inspiration of the well-known myth. (See the second slide show for images of the chapel and sword)
The abby ruins are impressive, and enough remains to allow ones imagination to take full charge and fill in the missing mortar and accoutrements. For a short period of time, we were the only ones there save for the singing birds and warm sun, and it was memorable. Again, the ghosts of monks past seemed almost tangible as I slowly took it all in.
We walked up the rather steep incline to the Montesiepi Chapel, marveled at the sword, as well as the building. Its dome is of geometric brick and amazes one at how this was accomplished so long ago in the 12th century. We wandered into the small “gift shop” next to the chapel, and were met by a most strange odor and an even stranger little old woman who busied herself straightening shelves and having an animated conversation with…herself. Not sure if she was just having a good time, or if something more serious lurked, we nosed around as we tried to off-handedly listen and watch. Choosing a licorice stick to purchase, Marty approached her and began to engage her in conversation…in Italian, of course. Despite first impressions, she was quite lucid and fun and we were able to understand most all of what she said. Somehow our conversation went to how school children are over stressed these days, and feeling strongly about it, she repeated her views enough to where we truly did get every word! She told us, too, that she had been married in the chapel, and that she had lived most all her life there. Divorced at this point, she lived in the area just adjacent but attached to the chapel. She was quite a classic little gal!
Back to the hotel/trattoria near the abbey, we enjoyed a cool beverage and sat to enjoy the beauty of a warm day. Easy to do. Time to go, though, and we retraced our steps towards Castellina. Going through the small community of Forsini, I’d seen another very awesome looking castle type building. A “Can we?” on the way predetermined the attempt to go to this castle on the way home. Well, lo and behold….same story! Another lucky soul’s private home, and nothing more than gazing from afar allowed. Ah, well.
We made our way back to lovely Lamole for our last dinner together in Toscana, and it might have been the best yet. Watching a beautiful sunset, we relished Lamole’s excellent wine and savored food above a rustic description, but true to its origins…and absolutely amazing. We closed out the evening there with a panna cotta that was indescribably good, along with two limoncelli for buona fortuna. Arriveaderci, and buona notte…
Paula A. Reynolds
Traveler or Tourist?
All photos used in this blog were taken by the author, the author's husband or friends, or found by way of images.google.com. Photo credit is given when possible.