Tuscany 2019-Day 7

January21

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D and I headed out one morning to San Galgona that wasn’t too far from Sienna. After a drive that whirled and swerved through the cypresses and all around, we arrived at what we learned was the first Gothic church in Italy.

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Now roofless it still stood with majestic beauty.

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We enjoyed our look around and we were almost completely alone.

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We learned a little about the residents of the area-for them life was “no picnic” lol.

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We soaked up the sights of the secluded area, experiencing another piece of Tuscany that was brand new to us.

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We  saw a marked path to hike up a neighbouring hill for another experience. Unfortunately with my bad knee I knew that I would not be able to make the trek but I encouraged D to. He suggested we walk back to the car and just have another look at the access of the area.

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Sure enough, at the top of the hill over a very rough road stood this amazing chapel.

While parking we met two lovely Italian women, they asked where we were from and said they had spoken about travellers from Canada the previously evening: “Canadians are so inviting without any walls”. They encouraged us to go inside because the chapel was physically beautiful but spiritually beautiful as well. The women were so lovely, that we chatted and laughed until a priest came out of the chapel and hushed us because we were disrupting the solitude of the hilltop. We kissed the women Italian style and wished them well. Then we entered the beautiful space.

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The sanctuary was lit with candles and natural light and we knew we had discovered a place that was unlike any church we had seen in Italy. The exquisite simplicity made it an experience I will not soon forget.

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This was looking up at its round roof.

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In the middle of the room was a acrylic covering over the ground. Under the glass there was a sword stuck into a large stone. This is what we learned:

the actual Sword in the Stone is located in Siena, Italy, believed to have belonged to Saint Galgano. Legend has it the Archangel Michael ask Galgano to give up all his possessions which he argued would be harder than splitting a stone. to prove his point, Galgano struck a rock with his sword which cut through with ease, leaving only the hilt and a few inches of blade exposed. The Sword in the Stone is still in case to this day inside the Montesiepi Chapel. While it’s impossible to authenticate the sword’s legendary history, recent scientists have verified that analysis of the metal dates back to the 12th century, consistent with the timeline of Galgano.

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The current keeper of the stone and the chapel lived in the small space attached to the chapel. He is the priest that shushed our exuberance in the parking lot.

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We made the drive back to Sienna more slowly, appreciating that we had just witnessed something quite sensational. Life is full of wonderful surprizes.

Kath’s quote: “I did stories about unexpected encounters, back roads, small towns and ordinary folk, sometimes doing something a little extraordinary.”-

Charles Kuralt

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Love never fails.

 

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