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En Route to Siena

The Abbey of San Galgano, about 30km (19 miles) northeast of Massa Marittima beside the SS441 close to the junction with the SS73, is an imposing, roofless Gothic structure built by Cistercian monks in the 13th century. It is accompanied by the rotunda of Montesiepi atop a nearby hill, held together by a dome of 24 concentric stone circles. In the middle of the floor is the sword of Saint Galgano Guidotti springing from a rock. After a visitation from the Archangel Michael, the saint is said to have miraculously thrust his sword into the stone, like the legend of King Arthur in reverse, in a sign of his renunciation of violence and worldly pleasures. Adorning a side-chapel are badly decayed frescoes by Sienese maestro Ambrogio Lorenzetti. The site is open during daylight hours, and admission is free.

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