Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The abbey of San Galgano

I was here in October last year. I was on my way from Montepulciano to San Gimignano. Have you been there?


We had decided that the drive to San Galgano would be a perfect day trip on the way to San Gimignano. As we neared the abbey the roads narrowed and the trees pressed in – chestnuts, blackberry thickets, pines, olives and all manner of deciduous trees blanketed the undulating hills of the terrain we were passing through. The drive was enchanting.


On arrival, I could see the beautiful circular chapel up on the hillside above the abbey with a sword embedded in a stone inside it. Alongside it were six large pheasants in the newly ploughed field, with burnished coppery brown plumage.

It’s eerie to stand at the entrance, with the crows cawing desolately as they fly through the roofless abbey and in and out the paneless windows. The circular chapel has a sword embedded in the stone inside it.


There's so much to see and think about when you are there. It's an evocative place. I've never seen anything quite like it. It was an unforgettable experience and a memorable drive through the deeply forested Tuscan countryside.


A stay at the Villa Mercede in Orvieto

I stayed there a year ago on my last trip. We were enroute from Venice to Sorrento and as I always enjoy going to Orvieto, I was very pleased to be able to stay there again. I booked from Australia by telephone. And that's really the best way to communciate with Adolpho who seems to run it when he is not doing his other religious duties about the town.


The monastery is literally thirty meters from the Duomo, to the right and across the road. It's a large and well cared for building with an elevator and three floors of rooms. The grounds are extensive and the views from the rooms overlooking the back show the beautiful Umbrian countyside. It's just a couple of short Orvieto blocks from the apartment that Marlena de Blasi describes living in, at number 34 Via Del Duomo, in her third book, The Lady in the Palazzo.

I was very comfortable in my large single room with a pristine, new bathroom. The single rate is 35 euros a night. When you arrive, you can drive in through the Via Soliana entrance and the car parking is directly behind the building. Use the steps on the left to enter the building with your luggage. The main office is on the first floor. Adolfo is not always in the building so you may have to contact him on his cell phone. His number is 3475793062 and It helps if you speak some Italian.


As I return to Italy, I'm sad that I won't be going back there on this trip. Orvieto is such a special place and I would like to return next April. Going three times so far just whets the appetite for more.