Most everyone has heard of King Authur’s Knights of the Round Table and his legendary sword in the stone. King Authur was said to exist in the late 5th and early 6th centuries. Excalibur was King Authur’s sword and was rumored to contain magical powers. Many historians believe that the sword mentioned in the King Authur story is actually a later version of the original story that originated in Tuscany, near Siena. The sword in the stone that is found in Tuscany’s San Galgano Abbey may have been the original source for the tale of King Authur’s famous weapon.
San Galgano was born in 1148. He grew up to become a knight who constantly looked for trouble and enjoyed doing battle of any kind. He was generally known as a ne’er-do well. The Archangel Michael appeared to him in a vision and showed him that a better way of life would be a non-violent one. San Galgano was urged by Michael to seek a life of solitude. While he was on his way to explain his new-found purpose to his fiancée, San Galgano was thrown from his horse. He felt himself being lifted from his feet by an invisible force and was drug to a rugged hillside near his home in Chiusdino, Tuscany.
Once San Galgano reached the top of the hill, the voice spoke to him again, and he had a vision of a temple with Jesus and Mary surrounded by the disciples. As he walked up the hill, the vision faded and the voice spoke to him once again. The voice asked again that San Galgano consider giving up his life of battle and loose living. The young knight explained to the voice that giving up his way of life would be as easy as splitting a rock with his sword. He thrust his own sword into a rock to prove his point. The sword pierced the stone easily, all the way to the hilt. Upon seeing the sword swallowed by the stone, San Galgano was convinced that his life should change. He lived the remainder of his life as a humble hermit and was later canonized as a Saint.
The Abbey of San Galgano (Abbazia di San Galgano) is an abandoned beauty that is a favorite stop for visitors to Tuscany. Nearby, a round chapel that is known as the Cappella di Monte Siepi, sits on the hill above the main abbey. It is here that San Galgano’s sword forms the centerpiece of the interior. The Cappella offers a breathtaking view of the abandoned Abbey, and the beautiful surrounding countryside of Tuscany.
Please join us for our tours of Tuscany or our creative workshops in Tuscany. Viewing San Galgano’s sword in the stone is often included on our tour itineraries and it never fails to impress. Galgano's sword in the stone is one of the many magical pieces of Tuscany that is not to be missed!