To locate the Augustinian ruins in the forest of Montespeccio today, one begins at the very small Tuscan town of Montepiscini, which is located approximately forty miles south of Siena.
This site of this ruined hermitage is probably the most difficult of the known early Tuscan Augustinian hermitages to reach. Beginning at Montepiscini, one has to follow an unpaved road into the hills, walk down into the woods by a steep path, and eventually cross a stream that cuts the trail in two.
The ruins of the ancient Augustinian church are located across the stream behind a few slender trees. It no longer has a roof, and the remnants of its alternating black and salmon coloured walls lean outwards.
It is even a more challenging task to locate the old hermitage itself. It is situated down in a valley, near water, which obviously was one of the main reasons that the hermits chose this location. Perhaps there was some kind of a main road nearby at that time, but this certainly is not the case today.
Yet in walking through the woods, a modern pilgrim receives a first hand experience of the way the thirteenth century hermits chose natural places which would allow for a peaceful setting for their life of prayer, penance and contemplation.
The religious community of Montespecchio does not have any special history or famous names attached to it. However, there are a few known facts regarding this hermitage. It was founded on 15th October 1190, the date noted on a document attesting to the donation of the land to a certain Giovanni to build a hermitage there. It took him about ten years to construct the church and later a convento (residence) for the hermit community that by then had formed there.
There is another record dated 1228 indicating that there then was a community of six living at Montespecchio: two priests (Niccolo, the prior, and Ildebrando), and four lay brothers named Giovanni, Pietro, Giacomo and Guido.
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