The spiritual heart of Umbria
There are few places in the world where you can breathe an atmosphere of intense, refined spirituality like the one that permeates the Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi. The church, completed in 1253, is the heart of the town in the province of Perugia and a reference point for the entire Catholic world.
The imposing complex is made of Subasio stone, tinged with pink hues, and is divided into two parts. The Upper Church has a gabled façade featuring a large rose window and a bell tower which houses no fewer than seven bells. The largest, weighing 2,800 kg, is affectionately nicknamed “Francesca”. The interior of the church shows clear French Gothic influences: the space is airy and bright, and the entire building soars towards the sky. But the Basilica is most famous for Giotto’s cycle of frescoes in the lower half of the nave, depicting significant episodes from the life of Saint Francis.
You can enter the Lower Church through the 13th-century double portal at the side of the church. The Romanesque interior is richly decorated with frescoes by artists such as Giotto, Cimabue and Simone Martini. Here, the more sombre and intimate style compared to the Upper Church encourages silence and prayer. It is no coincidence that the Lower Church leads to the Crypt of Saint Francis, which houses the saint’s coffin.
Back outside, walk under the arches of the long portico in front of the entrance to the Basilica and take a moment to admire your surroundings. In the warm light of a sunset, a breathtaking view awaits you.