Key to Umbria: Assisi

Walk III: San Francesco and Pinacoteca Comunale

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This walk begins in Piazza del Comune.  
Leave the piazza along Via San Paolo: the church of San Paolo is on the left at number 5 and the associated canonica is at number 7. 

Continue along Via San Paolo, passing a curtain wall of pink stone on the right (opposite number 15) that is built on foundations from a Roman terrace.  

The buildings at numbers 19 and 21 belonged the Confraternita di Santo Stefano:
the inscription to the right of the entrance at number 19 (now the Ristorante Posta Girarrosto) identifies the ex-Ospedale di Santo Stefano; and 
there is a papal coat of arms above the entrance to the ex-Oratorio di Santo Stefano at number 21. 

Turn left along Vicolo Santo Stefano, passing this tabernacle on the left.  The inscription records that the fresco (1650) of the Crucifixion in the tabernacles was a gift of Signora Violante Rossi Gregori, and that is was placed here after the restoration of the tabernacle in 1960.  More important are the damaged frescoes (1363) in the tabernacle, which are documented as works of Pace di Bartolo.  They depict 
the Annunciation (above); 
the Redeemer with prophets (under the arch); and 
SS John the Baptist and Catherine of Alexandria (to the sides).

Continue down to Santo Stefano (seen first in the garden below on the left). 

Continue to the end of Vicolo Santo Stefano and turn right up the steep Via Aluigi to Piazzetta Aluigi.  
Palazzo Aluigi (16th century), which is opposite and to the right (at number 36 Via San Paolo), belonged to the Aluigi family and was probably the home of the artist Andrea d’ Assisi, l' Ingegno.  
The historian Sigismondo Spagnoli built Palazzo Spagnoli (1925), the right wall of which is at the left end of Piazzetta Aluigi.  This palace (which, as you will see, is more distinctive from the back) has been described as “the crazy, unaccomplished dream ... hanging over the city like a nightmare”.  
Turn left across the facade of Palazzo Spagnoli, along Via Metastasio: Metastasio was the pseudonym of the poet and librettist Pietro Trapassi (1698-1782), whose father came from Assisi, and Marcantonio Aluigi was Metastasio's biographer.  This street runs along the line of the Roman wall: the land to the left was outside the Roman city. 
Turn right at the side of Palazzo Spagnoli up the stepped Vicolo della Croce.  Take a short detour to the right to walk along the palace garden as far as the point at which the wall deceases in height.  Look back here into the garden to see the ex-church of  Sant' Antonino, which belonged to the Confraternita di Sant' Antonino.  Unfortunately, its lovely apse is largely hidden behind a fig tree. 

Retrace your steps along Via della Croce, passing the ex-Oratorio di San Rufinuccio on the right ... 

and continue to the Monastero di Santa Croce.  (This picture is taken looking back, after you have passed it). 

Continue along Vicolo di Santa Croce and turn right at the end along Via Metastasio. 
The church and nunnery of San Giacomo di Murorupto are on the right at number 18.  (Ring the bell in the door on the left at the far side of the entrance courtyard). 

The nuns’ earlier church of San Donato stood on the site of what was later a theatre, to the left of the courtyard. 

An inscription in the wall of the next  house on the right (at number 20 Via Metastasio) records that it belonged to San Giacomo in the 11th century and that the Tini family restored it in 1996.  
Continue along Via Metastasio, which still runs along the line of the Roman walls.  The house at number 22c has ancient fragments embedded in its wall. 

The road swings to the right, becoming Via San Giacomo, and leads to Porta San Giacomo. 

[Take a short detour through the gate and to the right, to see the remains of the Roman wall embedded in the medieval circuit.] 
Retrace your steps through Porta San Giacomo and, as Via Metastasio swings to the right, continue ahead down the steps under and arch, along Vicolo Superiore Sant’ Andrea.  
At the T-junction, take a short detour by turning left along Vicolo Inferiore Sant’ Andrea to the nunnery of Sant' Andrea at number 5. 

Retrace your steps and continue along Vicolo Sant' Andrea to the church of Santa Margherita.  There is a fine view of the façade of the upper church of San Francesco (illustrated below) from the terrace here.  (It is worth coming back here later to enjoy the sunset). 

Walk along the left wall of the church and turn left and left again into Via Cardinale Merry del Val.  This street is named for Cardinal Raphael Merry del Val (died 1930), who was the papal legate to the celebration of the 700th anniversary of the death of St Francis in Assisi. 
Cross the Piazza Superiore di  San Francesco to visit San Francesco. 

The Oratorio di San Bernardino is in Piazza Inferiore di San Francesco, opposite the entrance to the lower church. 

Take a short detour by walking across Piazza San Francesco Inferiore (to the left in the photograph above) and along Via Frate Elia.  The building at number 8 on the right is a hospice founded in 1624 for poor priests attending the Festa del Perdono.  Attached to it was the  Chiesa del Nome di Gesù (also known as the Chiesa de' Matrigiani) in which Cesare Sermei and Vincenzo Giorgetti painted frescoes (now lost) in 1631.
Retrace your steps and turn right.  Walk up the slope and continue back to the city centre along Via San Francesco.  
The second building on the right, with a short flight of steps leading to the entrance, is the Oratorio dell' Immacolata Concezione.  

Palazzo  Bernabei is next to it, at number 19A. 

The hospital of the Confraternita di San Gregorio at number 19 now belongs to the Capuchins of the Oratorio della Immacolata Concezione and houses their Museo degli Indios dell'Amazzonia. 

The Casa dei Maestri Comacini is at number 14 on the left (with the stepped Vicolo Sant' Andrea - see above - behind it).   The loggia, to the right of a tower house, and the part of the building below it were built in the 13th century. 
The building has been given its name because the reliefs of the symbol of a compass above a rose, which can be seen above the door (ca. 1485), which suggest that it might have belonged to the guild of masons known as the Maestri Comacini (Masters of Como). 
There is an interesting relief to the left of the loggia that depicts a chained dog with the word “spero” (hope) on its collar. 

The two-storey extension to the right dates to 1477, the date on the coat of arms on the lower storey.  

The long expanse of Palazzo Giacobetti Vallemani, which now extends along the left of Via San Francesco (at number 12), now houses the Pinacoteca Comunale. 

The nunnery of Santa Maria degli Episcopi is at number 13, opposite the Pinacoteca Comunale.  The nunnery was suppressed in 1804 and the complex re-opened in 1814: 
part of the original complex, including its chapel, now belongs to the Suore Francescane Missionarie di Assisi (at number 13); and 
the rest became the Ospedale della Misericordia (at number 13A).  The architect Alfonso Brizi restructured this hospital in 1883 and it was adapted for residential use in 1989.    
Continue along Via San Francesco to two buildings on the right from the complex that belonged to the Confraternita di SS Giacomo e Antonio Abate:
the Oratorio dei Pellegrini; and 
the ex-Ospedale dei Pellegrini, which stood to the left until its demolition in 1883.   The neo-Romanesque building that replaced it now houses the Suore Francescane Missionarie del Giglio. 
The long expanse of Palazzo Bartocci Fontana, the left wing of which now houses Hotel il Palazzo, is on the left. 
The Portico del Monte Frumentario is at number 5a on the right, with the Fonte Oliviera next to it. 

Via San Francesco ends at the Arco dei Seminario, which was inserted into the Roman walls in the 13th century to allow access to San Francesco.   The building behind the impressive loggia (1911) high up on the left (on the right in this illustration) is the Franciscan Theological College. 

The road continues as Via Fortini (previously Via del Seminario).  
The wall of pink and white stone immediately on the right was part of the nunnery of Sant' Angelo in Panzo, ... 

which subsequently became part of the Seminario Vescovile.  

Continue past Palazzo Rossi (16th century) at number 5 on the right.  (The traditional attribution of its design to Galeazzzo Alessi has no firm foundation). 
Piazza Verdi extends from the side of Palazzo Rossi to the Teatro Comunale Metastasio opposite.  This building was recently restored to its original function. 

The house at number 3b on the right belonged to the Benizi family, as recorded in the inscription on the architrave of the portal , which reads “C BENITUS DE GERMANIS”.  

Via Fortini now passes two buildings that once belonged to the Confraternita di San Gregorio: 
The original Oratorio di San Gregorio was in the medieval house (restructured in the 17th century) at number 2 (illustrated to the left, above).  When the confraternity moved in 1325 (see below), this became the Oratorio del Crocifisso di San Gregorio.  Traces of the original Gothic portal survive , with a tiny Crucifix on its keystone. 
The associated hospice was opposite, at number 3.  Traces of the original Gothic portal survive, with a tiny Crucifix on a mountain on its keystone. 
The road then changes its name to Via Portica; the sign above the street name, which is dated 1542, marks the boundary of the Terziero di San Francesco (one of the three new administrative districts created in that year).  The Fontana di Via Portica is at the junction. 

Palazzo Brizi is at number 16.  The bust on the facade commemorates Eugenio Brizi, who was an important figure in the Risorgimento. 

The ice cream  shop at number 9 was the Spetiaria degli Aromatari, an apothecary that belonged to the Aromatari family.  The reliefs (ca. 1479) on the portal are attributed to Franceschino Zampa and Girolamo di Bartolomeo degli Aromatari: [Zampa worked at the Sacro Convento di San Francesco in the 1470s for Pope Sixtus IV, and they both signed the relief (1488) on the facade of the Oratorio di San Bernardino].  The shop was also known as the “Bottega del Moro” because of the face of a “Moor” on the arms above the lintel.

There is an interesting relief of a pestle and mortar to the right of the entrance to the Farmacia Rossi at number 1A. 

Continue past the entrance to the Museo Civico (visited in Walk I) on the left and into the Piazza del Comune, where the walk ends.