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Holy Tuscany: Siena surroundings of faith

So the mountains of the Casentino were the place where Saint Frances lived and Siena the home town of Saint Catherine, a very young girl who decided as a child to dedicated her life to Jesus. Siena has a lot of churches, so have its surrounding. But two of them, scattered in the beautiful country yard, are quite a must see, especially if you are searching amazing histories and legends.


Sant’Antimo: the creation of Charlemagne

The Abbey of Sant'Antimo stands in solitary Starcia Valley, which lies a few kilometers south of Montalcino (SI). The abbey church is one of the most important monuments in the Romanesque style of Tuscany. The building is inspired by the French Benedictine models and Lombard and stands in a grandiose campaign complements of rare beauty. Although there is no evidence, according to legend, to found the abbey was the Emperor Charlemagne in 781, returning from Rome. Louis the Pious, son of Charlemagne in a document donated to the abbey goods and privileges that make us think about the existence of the abbey in the Carolingian period.

The abbey name is traced back to Saint Antimo of Arezzo, who was martyred in these campaigns in 352. Here was built a small chapel, near a Roman villa, whose existence is proved by numerous finds in marble and stone reused to build the monastery as the bas-relief with the cornucopia on the north side of the bell tower or some columns in the crypt. The abbey is still lived by the monks. In the ‘70’s Mr Zeffirelli put here the set of his famous film “Fratello sole, sorella luna”, dedicated to the life of Saint Frances.

San Galgano: the sword in the rock

The abbey is in the middle of the Siena country yard, surrounded by the yellow grain fields of the Crete Senesi.

The legend says that Galgano, a young knight who lived the first part of his life in full debauchery, decided to leave this lifestyle, approaching the hermitage. In the Christmas day of 1180, Galgano reached the hill of Montesiepi with the aim of turning his weapon into a cross; in fact there is still a rock from which cracks emerge a hilt and a segment of a sword corroded by age and rust, now protected by a plexiglas case. The legend of Saint Galgano and also the fact that this is one of the unique churches without the roof, makes this place a must see destination for all the tourists that are in Siena or in the surroundings.

Info and Tips

If you want to visit both the places, you will need a whole day since the surroundings offer you amazing landscape to enjoy and always remember that streets in Tuscany may not be so fast and comfortable. There is no way to access to the abbeys with a public transport, so you will need to rent a car.

Best time to visit: Autumn and Spring

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