The Treasure of San Mamiliano: dragons, pirates… and no GPS!Mysteries & Legends
The Treasure of San Mamiliano: dragons, pirates… and no GPS!
San Mamiliano is one of the most fascinating and intriguing characters in ancient Tuscan history: he committed himself to spreading the Gospels, particularly in Maremma and in the Tuscan islands. He died on the Island of Montecristo in 460 D.C. and his relics were distributed across Italy: in Rome, Pisa, Palermo and Sovana (GR). His deeds became legendary, yet they have always been surrounded by a thick veil of mystery. For example, it is said that after retiring in the island of Montecristo, he got involved in a fight against a large dragon but managed to win. Apparently in the same place where the battle took place a water source sprung whereas the defeated dragon became the 'Treasure of San Mamiliano'!
Many have attempted to search for this famous treasure: pirates, sailors, locals, foreigners and even the writer Alexandre Dumas. The whole storyline of the novel 'The Count of Monte Cristo' is based precisely on finding the concealed treasure. According to several documents dating back to the 1500s, it was to be located somewhere right on the island of Montecristo, buried in the monastery dedicated to the Saint. The fact is, no one has ever been able to find it...nothing more than a bunch of burnt bones and a few broken vases were ever unearthed.
But in 2004, suddenly a twist occurred. In Sovana di Sorano, a medieval town of Etruscan origin in the province of Grosseto, the Church of San Mamiliano was under restoration - the place where some of the saint’s relics are kept. Surprisingly, during the excavations a great treasure was found under the altar: 498 gold coins that date back to the period in which San Mamiliano lived. So after all, the most sought-after Tuscan treasure was indeed buried under the Church of San Mamiliano, just not the one in Montecristo but under the homonymous one in Sovana! So was everyone mistaken? Well, probably! They had the right Saint but the wrong church and the wrong village. Besides, at the end of the 1400s GPS was not around yet! Someone must have made a mistake and read the wrong coordinates on the treasure map.
So now, if you wish to see the treasure of San Mamiliano, you do not have to fight against dragons and pirates. Simply head to the enchanting village of Pitigliano and visit the Civic Museum: you can admire the vase containing the precious coins. It couldn’t be easier!
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