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The Church of S. Francesco in Corciano


[image ALT: zzz. It is a view of the church of S. Francesco in Corciano, Umbria (central Italy).]


[image ALT: A 2‑story building, seen head‑on: one large central door with a thin stone gable over it, over that a small arched window, and immediately over that a large rose window the top of which touches the symmetrically sloping roof. It is the façade of the church of S. Francesco in Corciano, Umbria (central Italy).]
S. Francesco, founded at some uncertain time in the 13c as a monastery of the then new order of Franciscans, is a pretty good example of Umbrian Gothic: or would be if it had not been radically reworked on the inside, starting in the late 16c to accommodate tombs under the floor of the church, then in the 17c just to follow changing tastes; in the 19c, when the convent was converted into a seminary, it was enlarged — and the outside was mangled, burying part of the church's façade in the new buildings.

In 1961 the seminary was closed and the church authorities sold the buildings: the annex was bought by a local family (part of it now houses a restaurant) and the church itself by the Soprintendenza delle Belle Arti, the government agency in charge of restoring many of the beautiful things in Italy. The latter did its work well, removing all the Baroque accretions and discovering several very fine late‑14c and early‑15c frescoes: unfortunately, when I was in Corciano, the church had been taken over by an exhibit on Perugino and his time, and the entire fabric of S. Francesco was masked by display material; I have no sense of the space and haven't really seen the interior of the church despite having paid 6 euros to do so.

A further difficulty in presenting this church is due to the way in which the church sits in a sort of pit just outside the N gate of town:


[image ALT: zzz. It is a view of the church of S. Francesco of Corciano, Umbria (central Italy).]

This century-old photo shows the situation best, unobscured by more recent construction and the baneful ubiquity of cars: in the very foreground notice the railing and the little street about a story above the level of the church. (As for the small church at the end of the lane, I believe it to be the chiesa dell' Ospedale, but am not positive.)


[image ALT: zzz. It is a view of the church of S. Francesco of Corciano, Umbria (central Italy).]

The stone is Subasio limestone, brought here from the mountain behind Assisi, about 30 km distant; in its two characteristic dark and light shades of pink.


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Page updated: 1 Sep 05