Day 12 – Assisi e Spoleto
- Barb: Lofty
- Mike: Wow!
- Jen: Vivid
- Barb: Lower church
- Mike: Roman bridge
- Jen: Inlaid seats
Three or Four Words
- Barb: On a grand scale
- Mike: Hill ergo town
- Jen: Blue-green tie-dye ceiling
- Barb: I’d like to observe these medieval and renaissance artists and craftsmen at work.
- Mike: Look, there’s an empty space; let’s decorate it or put some piece of impossibly ornate furniture there.
- Jen: If there were a heaven for masons, it would look like Italy.
Today we visited the Basilica di San Francesco d’Assisi, the Basilica of St. Francis. Francis died in Assisi on October 3, 1226. Not two years later, plans were underway for the construction of a church in his honor.
As we approached Assisi, I dubbed it the hill town that couldn’t (reach the top of the hill). Lucky for us, it managed to survive despite this deficiency.
The relatively modest exterior did not prepare me for the interior.
The whole thing is beautiful, vivid, bright, and much too full and busy to absorb or process in a single short visit, but a few isolated bits made big impressions. The ceiling, for instance. Damage to the blue color has resulted in a blue-green tie-dye effect that I love. It looks space-y, just right for a high ceiling.
I spent a lot of time studying the gorgeous inlaid-wood backs of the choir stalls, too. Each one was different. And, as usual, I was attracted to the fill patterns between story images, along arches, decorating altars, on the floor, etc.
The lower church is cozier, with lower ceilings, but painted wall-to-wall with busy and bright story pictures and fillings. I’ve enjoyed the other churches we’ve seen, but this one is easily my favorite at this stage.
I can’t help but wonder, though, what St. Francis would think of it. My guess is that he’d not be happy to have his name associated with it: he was all about humility and poverty and simplicity. That’s not at all what this church is about.
We were not allowed to take pictures inside the church. Some churches allow photos, others do not. I appreciate the ones that permit photos because it’s the only way I stand a chance of remembering what’s where.
We think that one reason churches say no to photos is because they want to sell postcards, i.e., make money. But sometimes the postcard images aren’t very good or are not of what I want to remember. Often, stalls or shops that sell postcards in the churches aren’t even open when we’re there.
The interior pictures here are postcards we bought and then photographed. They’re good pictures and will help me remember some of my favorite parts of the church, but I would prefer to have more images of the details that appealed to me.
St. Peters—the Pope’s church— allows visitors to take photos. I consider that setting a precedent, and I wish other churches would follow suit.
The town of Assisi—what we saw of it—is full of shops selling monk-y chachkis.
The perfect gift for the nun/monk who has everything.
St. Francis would love these, too, I suspect.
The next stop on today’s tour was Spoleto, an area inhabited since prehistoric times. The lower part of the protective wall dates back to the 6th century BC, and the Roman settlement of Spoletium began in 241 BC.
It’s a town on a hill with a wall and a castle…and this:
This is a 14th century bridge built over the foundation of a Roman aqueduct. It’s about 750 feet long and 262 feet above the gorge at the highest point. Across the bridge is a fortification tower. We enjoyed great views of the valley as we walked across the bridge.