Assisi with its olive groves and vineyards below is an iconic image for anyone travelling around Umbria. The town and its two famous saints, with their austere approach to life couldn’t be further from the reality of their existence. And although St Chiara’s basilica is still a plain-banded building, St Francesco’s massive edifice seems to run contrary to his message.
In spite the mixed signals you receive regarding the gentle saint, you cannot but be impressed with the gigantic foundations of his holy place. Beautiful pink local stonework that towers over the Tevere Valley, standing out for miles around as it shimmers in the sunlight. This is in stark contrast to St Chiara’s more modest cathedral, which blends in amongst the houses and office of the town, then there are the dark ruins of Rocca Maggiore fortifications looking down menacingly on the valley.
Assisi is one of the few really touristy places in Umbria but even the tacky souvenirs and throngs of visitors cannot diminish the thrill of wandering its streets and viewing the beautiful Giotto and Cimabue frescoes inside the cathedrals. Assisi is, even with its crowds, still a magical place.
The painting highlights the majesty of St Francesco’s basilica and its total dominance of the landscape but below you can see the endless rows of olive trees and grape vines that also play an important part in the area. The left side features the town with its towers and hidden away in the corner is St Chiara’s church. The wooded hillside steeply rises to the castle perched on high surveying all that occurs in Assisi. The painting is 16cm x 36, completed in watercolour and ink on heavy-duty cartridge paper.
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