Free Shipping to Continental USA on all orders over $35 US. Ask for quote for all else.

San Galgano: Sword in the Stone Legend - Chiusdino, Siena, Tuscany

15 December 2023

Dear Art lover,
     I still cannot make much art yet... if you know me well, you might remember how "on edge" that makes me.  My local doc actually put me on a "do not worry, it is natural" (so is arsenic!) pill to help me chill after I told her that I get embarrassed now by exaggerated angry outbursts when I feel frustrated or see something that is not kind or just.   Drugs do not appeal to me as even without them, my life feels surreal more often than not.  Thus, I save these pills for when I think I will be around people, especially frustrating/rigid/unimaginative people.  The natural medicine is for them, really, not so much for me.  hahahah.

      All that intro was intended to say that I want to wish you a happy solstice soon, as well as all of the other wonderful end-of-year holidays around the world.  Thus, I wanted to share with you some images I took during a recent weekend getaway with my beau and his friends.

open streets for town plumbing to using natural hot springs to heat homes Chiusdino, Tuscany, Italy

     Our first stop in Tuscany was Chiusdino, in the region of Siena.  I had never heard of it, but I found the medieval village charming, as I tend to do most of them in this country.  The whole town not only had a huge outdoor art exhibit going on, but most of the streets were dug up for new plumbing.  The wooden catwalks were fun to use.  An older-than-me man was working in his cantina and explained that the town has chosen to use the natural hot springs (terme) to heat homes there instead of the expensive gas.  They expect their bills to halve during the winter, but it was unclear to me if it would be this winter or not.

     I may make another blog post about the art exhibit.  My energy is limited and we never found out the name of the artist(s).  

     Just walking around the town, we ended up eating lunch in a cavern.  hahah.  La Grotta di Tiburzi has an enticing menu.  I enjoyed the Ravioli Maremmani with Gorgonzola cheese and walnuts.  The ravioli prepared in the style of Maremma means that inside was spinach and ricotta cheese.  Everyone was delighted with the lunch.  Maremma is the area in SW Tuscany, where the Etruscan culture was based centuries ago before the Roman Empire.

    After lunch, we took advantage of the afternoon light and drove to the nearby Abbey of Saint Galgano.  I had seen pictures of this famous landmark of a roofless antique church and  I was thrilled when I understood we were going to see this!  The weather was perfect and with fewer tourists than normal.  It was lovely.

Cypress lined entrance to the Abbey of San Galgano, Tuscany, Siena
Abbey of San Galgano, Siena, Tuscany west entrance in afternoon sun, Italian architecture from 1200 or 13th century Gothic


West entrance with small pillars of marble in brick arches to the Abbey of San Galgano, Siena, Tuscany
Abbey of San Galgano, Siena, Tuscany, roofless church
Abbey of San Galgano, Siena, Tuscany, roofless church
Abbey of San Galgano, Siena, Tuscany, roofless church
architectural detail inside the Abbey of San Galgano, Siena, Tuscany, roofless church
Abbey of San Galgano, Siena, Tuscany, roofless church, horizontal composition
architectural detail perhaps burial window inside the Abbey of San Galgano, Chiusdino, Siena, Tuscany, roofless church
Gothic architecture of the Abbey of San Galgano, Chiusdino, Siena, Tuscany, roofless church

Walking Around to the Outside of the Abbey of Abbey of San Galgano, Chiusdino, Siena, Tuscany, roofless church:

outside view of the Abbey of San Galgano, Chiusdino, Siena, Tuscany, roofless church
south side view of the Gothic architecture of the Abbey of San Galgano, Chiusdino, Siena, Tuscany, roofless church
A tree's leafless winter branches towers over the roofless Abbey of San Galgano, Chiusdino, Siena, Tuscany


The Sword in the Stone Legend:  Tuscany


The Rotunda with the Sword in the Stone, Chiusdino, Siena, Tuscany, view from the abbey

     The Rotonda chapel up a small hill features the lovely dome you see in my photo of concentric circles.  Below the ceiling is the legendary "sword in the rock"  on permanent exhibit, protected under a curving window.   Unlike the story of rock-embedded blade that only a true king could remove (the legend of King Arthur), the sword here went the opposite direction.  A knight from Chiusdino named Galgano Guidotti (d. 1181) renounced his violent and wayward ways, plunging a sword INTO a rock.  The weapon's entrance into the hard material that "yielded like butter" was the miracle that led to the knight's conversion and later sainthood (San Galgano).   
     The Rotonda di Montesiepi was built in 1185, four years after the death of the newly converted man of God.  It was restored in 1924.

     The Abbey bears the name of their saint.  It was built on the site of a Cistercian Monastery starting around 1220.  It took about six decades to complete.  There were triumphs and losses.  And over the centuries, abandonment.  What was left of the roof collapsed in 1786 when the bell tower fell.  Materials were looted as construction material.  But really, I wonder if someone restored the building to its original glory, roof and bell tower included, would she earn such beloved visits and enjoy such fame as she gets today?

     I would love to visit again with the morning light upon the Gothic-style abbey, curious about the differences.  That said, I was happy with the clouds above adding texture and forms to the blue Tuscan sky.

Concentric circles of a light and dark versions of stones or brick make up the dome in the chapel of San Galgano, Siena, Tuscany
a window now protects the ancient sword embedded in a rock in San Galgano, Siena, Tuscany
Italian sign explaining how Galgano went from knight to saint in Siena Chiusdino Tuscany

"In questa roccia, bertice del colle di Montisiepe, Galgano Giudotti nel 1180 pianto' la spada, benerando in essa la croce simbolo di pace e redenzione."
"In this rock, a ravine of the Montisiepe hill, Galgano Giudotti planted his sword in 1180, blessing in it the cross, symbol of peace and redemption."


     The supposed storage place for the head of San Galgano, is in the Museum of Opera [Works], Duomo, Siena:

     However, when my friends and I entered the church of San Michele Arcangelo (The archangel Saint Michael) in the town of Chiusdino, where Galgano was born, I took this image in a little room to the right of the altar.  It is claimed to be the head (skull) of Saint Galgano, connected to this church perhaps because it is said that it was the archangel who spurred the horse of the knight Galgano to go to the hill to his conversion to Christian monkhood, where the sword is now implanted into the rock.

a skull allegedly of Saint Galgano of Chiusdino rests inside a metal and glass cone-like vessel with a sword sticking into the top of it

     Pretty gruesome.  And with the sword there with a skull inside the container, it makes me wish that I had known where we were going on this trip so that I could have researched what to see and then asked a few more questions or looked around both places while we were there.

view of the Abbey of San Galgano from the Rotunda on the way to the parking lot, Chiusdino, Siena, Tuscany, Italy

A few links of interest on this topic:
The knight turned to saint:

Chiusdino, Tuscany, Italy:

Our restaurant in Chiusdino:

Read more details of the interesting story about the Sword in the Stone:

Add Art to your Gift-Wrapping:

     Looking for a nice touch to your gift wrapping?  I just uploaded a new downloadable gift tag set of 3 holiday designs:

gift tags are a fun way to add original art to your gift packages!

More designs here:

and gift tags with figures:

[The main shop is: ]

artist Kelly Borsheim paints Christmas balls on a tree for a local Christmas market

My painting thoughts on Christmas balls:

Subscribe to my YouTube channel here:
[and click on the bell to receive notifications of new postings, please]

Blessed holidays to you,


P.S.  I got a surprise last Tuesday when I had to go see a bone specialist.  She looked at my newest set of X-rays for my spine.  According to her I broke Vertebra #7 in the rib cage.  However, all written and spoken word before hers since the day of my meeting with the wave says that I had broken # 5 and worse (more shattered) # 6.  What do I make of that!?!
     My siblings set up this page to share the story.  If interested, click here:
Thank you.

2 commenti

  • Thank you, Mary! I need to figure out how to be notified when someone comments on this blog… lol.
    I would love to see the sites you mentioned, how wonderful for you!

    Just created a new post. And I wish you a happy 2024! Big hugs, Kelly

    Kelly Borsheim
  • Thank you so much for sharing this adventure. The shrine reminded me of places in England & Wales where I felt the presence of all the Saints who had worshiped there in the past. Holy Ground. It was awesome. It’s a blessing to share your story of recovery and your gifts. Wonderful photos. Love & Continued Blessings, Mary

    Mary Cole

Lascia un commento