The Original Sword and the Stone: San Galgano

December 26th 2010 by Katie

The legend of Galgano Giudotti: the original story of the Sword in the Stone comes from Italy


Credits: Enrico Baccarini


Do you remember the Disney movie the Sword in the Stone? Do you remember where the story was based? Well it was said to be loosely based in medieval England, the legend of the sword of the stone actually originated in Italy. The legend of the young son of a noble was looking for no good. Galgano Giudotti was born in 1148 as the legend goes, Archangel Michael appeared before him and showed him the way to salvation. Galgano went into seclusion thereafter in a cave contemplating life. On his way to pay a last visit to his fiancee, his horse was spooked throwing Galgano to the ground. He then felt himself being lifted up by an invisible force. A voice spoke to him which he couldn’t resist. The momentum took him to Monte Siepi, a hill close to his birth town of Chiusdino.



Credits: Wikimedia


The voice carried him to the top of the hill where he envisioned a round temple with Jesus and Mary surrounded by the Apostles. Once there, the voice told him to give up his easy living. Galgano replied that it was easier said than done, as easy as splitting a rock with a sword. With a soft ease Galgano’s sword penetrated the bedrock. He got the message and decided to take on a life of poverty. He made friends with wild animals. Occasionally a peasant wandered to the hill looking for a blessing. Once the Devil sent an assassin disguised as a monk in which the wild wolves living with him devoured the assassin to the bones. Galgano died in 1181 when he was just 33 years old. He was declared a saint four years after his death. The Bishop of Volterra gave Monte Siepi to the Cisterian monks to build a shrine to Galgano. They broke ground in 1185, creating a round chapel that is known as Cappella di Monte Siepi.


Credits: Windoweb


It is located on the hill above the abbey, with the sword as the centerpiece. The Cappella gives a marvelous view of the Abbey from above. Galgano’s body was lost for some reason after the funeral took place. His head, surprisingly was found. His head also was said have grown golden curls for many years following his death. It was placed in the side chapel as well as the chewed bones of the arms of the assassin in another chapel. Saint Galgano’s head is currently preserved in the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo in Siena.


In 1218, The order of the Cistercian monks built the Abbey of San Galgano (Abbazia di San Galgano).


Credits: Gallo Tours


The likings of Gothic-Cistercian architecture, the building is impressive and shows what a strong following Saint Galgano had. In the 14th century, the abbey grew to immense power granted by various emperors. The wealth and power reached the 16th century that in the end set off a disagreement between the Republic of Siena and the Pope. In 1506, Pope Julius II forbid priests to perform liturgical functions at the abbey.



The Abbey of San Galgano slowly started to disappear. The Abbey became a place to collect building materials. There was looting going on and people started selling pieces of the abbey. The lead plates on the roof where one of the first things to be sold. The roof finally collapsed in 1768, which now enhances the spirituality that was once spoke of by Saint Galgano. With clear view of the Tuscan sky above how can it now bring one to a state of complete contentment.


Are you fascinated by Tuscan traditions? Subscribe to our RSS, follow us on Twitter and Facebook and we’ll keep you updated!!


Information courtesy of My Armoury.

Download our Free eBooks about Italy
Hotel Lungarno
Firenze (Toscana)
Borgo Scopeto Relais
Castelnuovo Berardenga (Toscana)
  1. [...] A lazy Sunday morning, I awoke having no idea I would visit this little town. Scarperia was founded in 1305 with the name of Castel S. Barnaba. It is in the province of Florence and it the most famous for it’s workshops of handmade knives. [...]

Suggested articles ALL ARTICLES >>
Top 5 Traditional Foods in Tuscany
Traditional Tuscan food: here are the top 5 best foods you can taste in TuscanyTuscany has the most delicious dishes I have ever been lucky to taste. I am never sick of these Tuscan foods. read full article >>
Top 10 places to see in Italy before you die
Top selection of places in Italy to see at least once in life I have a long, endless list of places to see before I die. I think everyone has its personal list of places which have captured read full article >>
It's Coffee time! Which one do you prefer? (Infographic)
An Italian Coffee Break: What type of Coffee would you order? Caffè Espresso, Caffè macchiato (with milk), Caffè americano (American coffee)…There are so many types of Coffee and many read full article >>

Suggested Hotels

Lupaia (Toscana)
Del Golfo (Toscana)
Il Tosco (Toscana)
The Original Sword and the Stone: San Galgano