Basilica Superiore di San Francesco, Assisi

The Basilica di San Francesco houses the mortal remains of St. Francis of Assisi since the year 1230. Visited every year by pilgrims from all over the world, it has been included in the UNESCO World Heritage List during the year 2000. The complex consists of two superimposed churches, the Basilica Inferiore (1228-1230) and the Basilica Superiore (1230-1253), as well as a crypt realized in 1818 which contains the tomb of the saint, a simple sarcophagus resting on the rock. The greatest masters of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, such as Cimabue, Giotto, the Lorenzetti brothers and Simone Martini, frescoed the walls and the ceilings of the two churches. There are also works by Cavallini and Jacopo Torriti. Beautiful stained glass windows by Giovanni di Bonino and Puccio Capanna and remarkable choir stalls crafted at the end of the fifteenth century embellish the Basilica Superiore. The school of great Italian painting was born in the Basilica Inferiore: in the nave you can admire the frescoes by the Master of St. Francis, the chapel of St. Martin shows the complete cycle of the Stories of the Saint painted by Simone Martini, the chapel of Mary Magdalene was frescoed by Giotto, a fresco by Cimabue is admirable on the right transept and on the left transept Pietro Lorenzetti painted some scenes from the Passion of Christ. The North-European Gothic style was revised in a more simple ritual expression, according to the Franciscan motto of the exaltation of Poverty.