In Val d’Elsa the monks of Abbey San Galgano used to administer justice and keep
the books of the municipalities of Volterra and Siena. Therefore they were very
influential in building Siena’s Duomo and exercised authority over
between Siena and Volterra. Sir John Hawkwood pillaged valuables from the Abbazia San Galgano twice or
maybe more in the 1300s. Disrepair increased and in the 1500s the Cistercian
monks of the abbey were not as powerful and rich as centuries before. In the 18th century the bell tower and the ceiling vaults caved in.
Today the abbey has no roof but its stone and brick walls have survived
the centuries and keep watch of the landscape around. By the church are the vestiges of the monastery and cloisters where today a tourist office is housed (tel. 0577 75 67 38; open 10.30am-7pm Easter-Oct).
The abbey plays host to summer concerts which the
Accadema Musicale Chigiana supports.
At first the monks used to be housed in the Cappella di Monte Siepi which watches over the abbey later constructed by the Cistercian monks on a lower level. This minute and round Romanesque chapel was frescoed by Ambrogio Lorenzetti. His theme was San Galgano‘s life events. Unfortunately they are in quite bad conditions. San Galgano, to whom Saint Michael appeared, spent the last years of his life in here as if it was a hermitage. According to legends, the sword stuck on the floor meant that he would never surrender to earthly pleasures.