The Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi is one of the most important sites of Christian pilgrimage in Italy, and has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2000. Construction of the basilica began two years after St. Francis died in 1228, compromising of an upper and lower basilica, the latter home to the crypt containing his remains. Very different in atmosphere and style, the lower basilica was built first and houses the high altar and frescoes by artists of the early Sienese schools; the upper, gothic in style decorated with bright frescoes, most notably works by Giotto.
Severely damaged by an earthquake in 1997, it took two years of Vatican funding to fully repair the damage which included The Life of St Francis by Giotto. Unfortunately, other frescoes, namely works by Cimabue and his followers, were destroyed and lost. As well as the religious and historic importance of the basilica, its position built into the hillside leads to spectacular views over the surrounding Umbrian hills and villages.
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