The San Francesco Church is located on the south side of the rock on which Orvieto is built and is one of the oldest churches in the city. The architect Ippolito Scalza, who is ubiquitous in the city, is buried in this church, but the main attraction is a fresco cycle by Pietro di Puccio.
San Francesco Church Orvieto
Address: Via Ippolito Scalza, 05018 Orvieto. Phone: +39 0763 343302. Opening hours: Are not indicated anywhere, but we were able to just walk in. It is likely that the church, like many of its kind in smaller towns, is closed for a few hours at midday.
History and Description
The San Francesco Church is one of the oldest churches in Orvieto. The Franciscan Order settled in the city in 1216 and construction of the church began in 1240.
The church was built on top of a pre-existing sanctuary dedicated to Santa Maria della Pulzella, to which a monastery was also attached.
When it was dedicated to St. Francis, it already looked like a typical Franciscan church, with a single nave, a semi-circular apse and a wooden ceiling.
During the 16th century an extensive renovation took place. One of the biggest changes was the placement of a number of altars along the side walls. The architect Ippolito Scalza was also commissioned to restore the convent.
The current, baroque appearance of the San Francesco Church is due to a restoration in 1773. The side chapels date from this period. The dome was also raised during this restoration.
The church has a pointed roof. The facade is characterized by three portals with pointed arches. The rose windows on the sides probably already existed when the first version of the church was built.
Artworks San Francesco Church Orvieto
The paintings in the apse are attributed to Filippo Landini.
Originally the walls of the church were painted with frescoes. The only surviving ones show three episodes from the life of St. Matthew and were painted by Pietro di Puccio.
On the walls of the nave hang some paintings by Nebbia and Gagliardi.
There are several tombs in the church. The most important one is the tomb of Ippolito Scalza, the local architect who contributed to the construction of this, and several other important buildings in Orvieto. The first Capitano del Popolo of the city, Orazio Benincasa, is also buried in the church.
A 13th-century wooden crucifix attributed to Maitani that stood on the altar is now on display in the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo.
The convent located next to the church was originally used by the Franciscans and later taken over by the Jesuits.
All about Orvieto
Since 1860, the monastery has not been used for religious purposes. In 2009 it was transformed into the seat of the Municipal Library.