While I was touring Tuscany, a local merchant asked if I had seen the sword in the stone located less than fifteen kilometers away. He gave directions to a hill called Montesiepi and the next day my husband and I visited the most enchanting place I’ve ever been: the Abbey of San Galgano.
The roofless abbey is spectacular and hosts concerts and weddings in this century of its life. But its past is even more gripping.
We hiked past a vineyard up to the chapel of San Galgano – named for Galgano Guidotti, a wayward knight. In a vision, the archangel Michael told Galgano to cease his violent ways, the knight replied that would be as easy as plunging his sword into the stone at his feet. He later said the stone melted like butter as his sword entered. No one has been able to pull it out.
This event happened a year before this story appeared in the King Arthur tales. Hmm.
Galgano became a hermit on the hilltop of Montesiepi, which soon became a Catholic pilgrimage. Galgano was sainted and the chapel built around the sword.
A beautiful Cistercian abbey followed, built in the fertile land below.
Its current history is also fascinating. A few years ago, vandals broke off and stole the hilt of the sword. It was recovered, the metal tested, and guess what? It is definitely an 11th-century sword.
This story plays a big part in my novel, “The Proof,” yet in a way I didn’t expect. It adds richness to the story. Where history was silent, I added a few vivid details.
For more info and pics, visit: http://www.italiantourism.com/news03.htm