Tuesday, October 9th

Once again our luck held …

Abbazia San Galgano

It was pouring rain when we left Boggioli this morning.  I mean “get drenched running to the car” pouring rain.  It rained hard all the way to Siena and beyond until we almost reached San Galgano.  As we approached, the rain let up and by the time we parked the car it had stopped completely.

Abbazia San Galgano

Abbazia (Abbey) San Galgano was built between 1218 and 1288 by the Cistercian monks.  It was the first Gothic style church built in Tuscany.  In 1786 lightning struck the bell tower which then collapsed onto the roof of the church.  The remains today are still beautiful although a rainy day probably is not the best day to pick to tour a roofless building.

Sword in stone, Hermitage of Siepi

Just up the hill from the Abbey is the Hermitage of Monte Siepi where Galgano lived as a hermit.  The story goes that Galgano, the knight from Chiusdino, embedded his own sword in the rock as a sign of peace.  The round chapel was built around the sword.  The chapel dome with its concentric circled of alternating colored stones is quite dramatic.  There is some belief that this was actually the origins of the story of Excalibur and King Arthur.

Hermitage of Siepi

We stopped for lunch in the out-of-the-way village of Montalcino at the Ristorante Da Vestro.  Our lunch of bruschetta, Ribollita, pasta, and house wine was absolutely excellent.  We capped it off with homemade flan and espresso.  During lunch we started talking to the couple with their son at the next table.  They were from Boise, Idaho and were on day 2 of a month in Tuscany, having just been to Abbazia San Galgano as well.  We shared with them our favorite places to see.

Castello Brolio

On the way back to The Barn, just south of Gaiole I noticed the signs to Castello Brolio that I had seen before on several trips where we had driven this route.  I had read that the castle is quite beautiful so I quickly detoured onto the road leading to Brolio.  The castle was built in 1000 A.D. and since 1141 has been owned by the Ricosoli family.  Baron Bettino Ricasoli, known as the Iron Baron, lived here in the late 1800’s.  The baron is credited with developing the formula for Chianti.

Castello Brolio

The castle certainly lived up to expectations.  Fortunately by the time we got there the rain had quite and the sky was clearing.  I walked around the outside of the castle through the vineyards that grow the grapes for Brolio’s wines before buying a tour ticket and entering the castle itself.  The castle was immense and the views from the ramparts were breathtaking!

On the way back to The Barn we drove through Montegrossi and onto the “shortcut” one last time.  We arrived “home” by about 5 pm.  It really had been a special final day in Tuscany.

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