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Assisi

Lights and shades of the Basilica of Assisi

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Assisi
Two years after the death of St. Francis of Assisi, during his canonization, the building of Basilica begun, consecrated in 1253. A lot of polemics rose against the Order concerning the opportunity to erect such a magnificent building and to fresco it so richly in memory of a saint who had done of the poverty and of the humility the proper believe. The contradiction have appeared incurable to some, but its construction has succeeded in the miracle to reconcile the opposite visions. The Basilica is composed in fact from two overlapped churches, an Inferiore and a Superiore. The Basilica Inferiore fully reflects the features of the Romanesque style in the thickness of the walls and in the strong pillars, where low vaults, the scarce illumination and the limitation of the space invite the spirit to the reflection, to the refolding on himself, to the interiority. It's not missing however the authentic collection of masterpieces, with frescos of Simone Martini, Pietro Lorenzetti, and of Cimabue and Giotto. The Basilica Superiore is an only vast aisle with ample and slender ogival vaults, well illuminated, in a style that fully answers to purest Gothic French. Here the light full the whole space, and the lightness of the environment is exalted by the rich pictorial decorations of Cimabue and Giotto, glorifying at the most degree the grandeur of the spirit and the joy of the Franciscan message. The Basilica Inferiore appears as a shady crypt, place of pray and concentration. Instead The Superiore is a bright opened space, a serene reachable sky without clouds.

The outside still have typical features of the Romanesque style with its strong buttresses, the free fašade, the plain and mighty bell tower. The single element of contrast is the bipartite front door of clear Gothic imprint. And if the frescos of the insides illustrate us the pictorial passage from the old to the new painting way, the Basilica is a precious document of the architectural evolution from the Romanesque to Gothic style.

Under the Basilica there is a cave, in which there's a crypt dug in 1818, where a space has been drawn for deposing the bare of St. Francis contained inside a sarcophagus set to the rock.
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