Saint-Françis' basilica : Michelin's recommendations
St Francis' life was ironic, in that he spent his life preaching humility, renunciation, and poverty, yet after he died the austere and bare churches he pictured were embellished with unprecedented splendour. And it was a Franciscan, Brother Elius, who was the chief architect of the basilica who led this movement towards architectural splendor and decoration....not that anyone is complaining! The whole of the central vault collapsed in an earthquake four years ago burying 4 people beneath the rubble and damaging a cycle of 28 Giotto frescoes. It was rebuilt completely from scratch in order to open again for the jubilee ... but another quake in June weakened the building further... The inferior basilica, somber and rigid with a single nave is made up of four bays covered in 13 and 14C frescoes. These are by Simone Martini (around 1284-1344), the Pietro Lorenzetti school, a follower of Giotto and a pupil of Giotto. Very badly damaged by the quake, the superior basilica has a slender vestry bathed in light from the high windows. Frescoes by Cimabue (with an admirable Crucifixion) and a famous cycle by Giotto recall the life of Saint Francis (1296-1304).
Opening hours :
- lower basilica 6am-6.45pm - upper basilica 8.30am-6.45pm - closed Sun morning