Abbey of San Galgano

Cistercian monastery found in the valley of the river Merse between the towns of Chiusdino and Monticiano, in the province of Siena, region of Tuscany, Italy

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Abbey of San Galgano
Abbazia di San Galgano (in Italian)
San Galgano Abbey interior 03.jpg
Interior of the abbey
ProvinceArchdiocese of Siena-Colle di Val d'Elsa-Montalcino
RiteRoman Rite
LocationChiusdino, Tuscany, Italy
Geographic coordinatesCoordinates:
StyleItalian Gothic

The Abbey of Saint Galgano was a Cistercian Monastery founded in the valley of the river Merse between the towns of Chiusdino and Monticiano, in the province of Siena, region of Tuscany, Italy. Presently, the roofless walls of the Gothic style 13th-century Abbey church still stand. Nearby are the chapel or Eremo or Rotonda di Montesiepi (1185), the tomb of Saint Galgano and the purported site of his death in 1181, a sword said to have been driven into a stone by Galgano, and a chapel with frescoes by Ambrogio Lorenzetti.


The abbey formed around the site of the former hermitage of Galgano Guidotti (San Galgano), and construction of the church began around 1220, and was completed some six decades later. The abbey grew in wealth and became allied with the Republic of Siena. Monks from the abbey routinely served as Camarlinghi di Biccherna,[1] i.e. high magistrates of the main financial institution of the republic.[2]

However within a century, the republic failed to protect it from roving condottieri, and John Hawkwood and his men despoiled the monastery beginning in 1363. By the end of the 14th-century, only the abbot remained in the monastery.[3]

The impoverished and decaying abbey sputtered along for nearly four centuries. Cardinal Giuseppe Maria Feroni was abbot from 1765 to 1767. In 1786, the campanile fell, taking with it the roof of the church. The ruins were looted for building material. Some restorations occurred in the 19th and 20th centuries; but the church remains only a magnificent shell among the wooded valley. The long tall nave with its windows and an apse rose window still stand. The abbey's chapter house and part of the scriptorium also remain.

The Rotonda chapel was restored in 1924 and retains its peculiar medieval shape, recalling imperfectly earlier Ancient Roman mausoleums.[4][5]

Popular culture

The abbey was the location where parts of Andrei Tarkovsky's 1983 film Nostalghia were shot.[6]



  1. ^ Siena: The Story of Mediaeval Commune, by Ferdinand Schevill, page 375.
  2. ^ "La Biccherna". (in Italian). Retrieved 9 February 2020.
  3. ^ Schevill, page 379.
  4. ^ The Story of Siena and San Gimignano, by Edmund Garratt Gardner, page 313.
  5. ^ Pro Loco Chiusdino, tourism site for commune.
  6. ^ Filming locations of Nostalghia at the Internet Movie Database

External links

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