Postcards from Umbria: the Basilica di San Francesco by night
The beauty of many grande dames of a certain age is only enhanced by low lighting, and the Basilica of Saint Francis in Assisi—amongst the Grandest Dames of them all—is no exception.
Occasionally the doors of the Upper Church are opened to the public for “after hours” classical music concerts and when I get wind of one of these—there seems to be no rhyme or reason in the scheduling—I always try to seize the opportunity to visit one of the most beautiful buildings on earth at her finest.
As evening progresses and darkness deepens, the richly frescoed interior becomes both more majestic and more intimate. Giotto’s famous frescoes soften in the twilight and the famed “giotto blue” ceilings seem to richen in color.
The concert is an excuse to sit and contemplate the art and architecture with more care…there are no noisy crowds to distract you from the humble beauty of Saint Francis’ life as told through the fresco cycle. On the contrary, the echoing cathedral acoustic—surely a bane to the musicians who perform there—only make the music seem more etheral and otherworldly and lends itself to reflecting on the lessons of the Assisi’s “Poverello”.
The whole effect is both uplifting and simultaneously calming…certainly the intention of the artist when he first put his brush to palette over 700 years ago.