Number on the map: 4 - Length : 6 Km - Journey time : 2h - Difficulty: easy - Signposting: excellent - Feasability: on foot, by bike, on horseback - Places of interest: Abbey of San Galgano, Monte Siepi
Notes: A lovely itinerary for all and without great difficulties. It contains four resting places en-route. It is a shaded walk, except for the part near the river up to the Abbey, and the return part of Monte Siepi (in all around 1 Km) where we cross the fields. Feasible also in mountain bike and horseback, but care must be taken on the steep decline. We recommend, therefore, that an anti-clockwise direction is taken by bike or horseback for this reason.
From the town we take the SS 73 road in the Torniella-Roccastrada direction, after some tens of metres we veer to the right, following the “Pista per Cavalli” (Racecourse) sign. For the first 200m the footpath (indicated by a red-yellow sign) is asphalted, and passes by some houses on the left and the race-course on the right. On reaching a small tower, which belongs to the electricity board (ENEL), the road becomes a dirt track and bends to the right. We continue alongside the racecourse until a fenced field is reached on the left. Here we leave the road and veer left alongside the fence for about 100m in the direction of Podere Cerbaie (Cerbaie Farm). We then turn 90° to the right and continue along the edge of the field until we reach the “La Cassetta” farm. Just before the farm the footpath narrows on the left and after a short while, on the right, near some large oak trees, it enters into the woods. We continue slightly downhill into a chestnut trees and heather undergrowth. We see a deep ditch to the right. Leaving the footpath, a little to the right there is a spring of non-drinkable water (see “emergenza naturalsitica” on the map) . We continue along the footpath for about 200m, until we reach the bottom of the hill, where we leave the footpath and take a narrow track on the right. The track continues on the flat into a mixed pine and chestnut forest, the right edge of the track leans steeply towards the ditch. Large blocks of purple quartz are spread along the path. Where the path is steep we can see San Galgano through the branches of the trees. The track then takes us to a large plateau (280m above sea level), where it crosse the Traversa Maremmana road (number 8 on the map). This road was an important mediaeval road joining Siena and Massa Marittima. At this point, the footpath forms a natural “balcony” over San. Galgano and Monte Siepi. We continue on our left leaving the forest and entering on our right into a field, divided from the next field on the right by a hedge. On the edge of the field it is not unusual to see roebucks. We continue towards the river Merse, which we cross on a bridge made from tree-trunks, and once reached the other bank we take a right. After around 50m the track veers left, becoming a large country lane, which takes us to Monte Siepi and San. Galgano (see “emergenza storica” on the map). We go back on this itinerary until we reach the junction of the Traversa Maremmana, which we take for about 200m in a NW direction. Where the road starts its incline we take a right, and still climbing, we pass another two junctions on the left, and in a short while we are back again at the race course, there are several picnic areas along the path.
Near the Abbey the Hermitage of Montesiepi, sited on the top of a hill, offers a new fascinating story of the entire architectural complex.
There is preserved the sword which, according to tradition, Galgano Guidotti was driven into the rock as a sign of renunciation of worldly life.
The Rotonda or Hermitage of Montesiepi was built just after the death of the saint over the ancient hut where St. Galgano lived the last year of his life. The sword in the stone of Saint Galgano is kept inside the Hermitage of Montesiepi.
Of particular interest is the chapel added to the Rotunda with beautiful frescoes of the saint's life by the Sienese painter Ambrogio Lorenzetti. In the Chapel of Lorenzetti are various paintings and preparatory drawings, sinopia drawings. Among the paintings, a Maesta, an Annunciation and Some scenes from the life of San Galgano.
The Hermitage of Montesiepi is open daily from 9:00 am until dusk, free admission.
Every Sunday morning at 11:30 there is the Holy Mass.
Ambrogio Lorenzetti, Annunciazione