The hermitage of Monespecchio had its highs and lows. It enjoyed a reputation for hospitality, despite the fact this it always had a precarious economic situation.
At times, it needed to be assisted by the archbishop of Siena which accounts for its occasional appearance in old records. Gradually it reached a low point when it was incorporated into the observant Congregation of Lecceto in 1433. In 1449, it was selected as the site for the General Chapter of all the observant congregations of the Order.
During the sixteenth century, Montespecchio was the house for postulants, i.e., those seeking admission to the Lecceto community of Augustinians. Possibly, it also served as the novitiate for a time. However, by 1687, its closing became inevitable.
Church services and the Augustinian community moved from Montespecchio to the nearby church of Crevole. In 1782, Crevole itself was suppressed.
Today at Montespecchio, all that remains is the ruin of the former Augustinian church in ruin, yet still with its French and Pisan influence and its window spaces that indicate Gothic architecture still evident.
Upon closer inspection of the area to the left of the church, the outline of the enclosure walls and the walls of the convent are visible. Over time, the woods have taken over, but corners soon appear and the visitor can see evidence of the beginning of a stairway as well as a passage from the convento to the church.
There are legends that are still told about this hermitage. It is called the 'conventaccio', "the bad convent," because it is said that women of ill repute were brought there to do penance. An occasional friar is said to have fallen from grace because of their presence! Even sightings of ghosts, 'white and silent', have been reported from time to time.
Eremo di Montespecchio. Located in the middle of the woods near Casciano di Murlo, to the south of Siena. A photo gallery of images taken in August 2007.