St. Francis of Assisi Basilica in Assisi, Italy
As you approach the town of Assisi, the first thing that greets you from afar is the Basilica situated on top of a hill. It is a long beige structure lined with innumerable arches supporting it from below. There are actually two churches – the Upper Basilica and Lower Basilica built on top of each other in the early 13th century. Interestingly, their designs differ from each other with the lower one in Romanesque style and the upper one with early Gothic elements which established many characteristics of this particular kind of design.
We drove up the hill where the winding road led into the adjacent town and ended up in a multistory underground parking lot which was built to accommodate the many cars and tour buses that came daily since the Franciscan Basilica is a major pilgrimage site. The houses closely abutted the church and it was one seamless beige landscape that extended all the way through the center of the town whose ambiance and architecture felt like you were back in the Medieval Age.
Both churches had walls filled with frescoes, many by Giotto and others by lesser-known painters. What struck me was the deep blue color of the ceiling with thousands of golden stars seemingly representing the heavens.
While the upper level was tall, bright, and spacious with high arches, the lower one was the opposite with heavy barrel vaults that made up the intricately ribbed ceiling. It was forbidden to take pictures and they were quite strict about it but somehow, I was able to shoot quite a few – without a flash of course – since the guards became busy when a commotion occurred because a tourist fainted. Such luck!
Further below, they built a crypt where the remains of St. Francis were buried and we were able to attend Mass there (the wife insisted so) which was conducted in Latin.
All I remember was the heavy incense that wafted through the air all throughout the ceremony because my mind was wandering outside thinking about the glorious sunset shot that I just missed!
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Also read: Travel Guide: Caleruega Church In Nasugbu, Batangas
About the Author
Al P. Manlangit is a Filipino architect based in Kuwait who loves to travel and take photos everytime he gets the chance to do so. The genres that he explores are landscape, architecture, and street photography which come in handy wherever he goes. He blogs at designerq8.com focusing on interesting places he visited with short stories to tell behind each frame.