Saturday the ‘Guide in Umbria’ had organised a guided tour of the Saint Francis Basilica in Assisi. The ‘Guide in Umbria’ are organising every third Saturday of the month a guided tour somewhere in Umbria. I am a huge fan of this group of guides.
The Basilica of Assisi is world famous. An endless number of fresco’s made by the most renowned artists at the time, displaying the incredible wealth of the church and the importance of Saint Francis (the churches were built immediately after his death).
We started in the lower church where the oldest fresco’s can be found. The tour was done in chronological order. After the lower church we went to the upper church (where out feet almost froze off) and we returned to the lower church where the tour ended.
We learned about the artists, the way they worked and the techniques applied. We witnessed the progress in style through the years, from simple two dimensional images to more complex techniques where the whole painting seems to be alive. We learned about the symbolic significance of the fresco’s (often one can choose from several explanations which all fit the scenery very well) and a very important point made a few times was how the extremely rich church managed to integrate the ‘saint of the poor’. A political process where obviously a lot of what Saint Francis stood for, was intelligently hidden from the eye.