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Today begins the first week of work in Umbria, Italy, for the Italian team.

This week tasks are related both to fieldwork, like laser-scanner survey, photogrammetric survey and datasheet census, both to archival research.

Researchers will be visiting some Franciscan places of worship, such as Eremo delle Carceri, Basilica Santa Maria degli Angeli and San Damiano church in Assisi, San Bartolomeo convent in Foligno, Santissima Annunziata convent in Gualdo Tadino, San Francesco convent in Spoleto, San Francesco a Monteripido convent in Perugia.

Franciscan buildings are typical of the landscape of many Italian cities, but it is not easy to recognise the main conventual families, characterised by specific canons and architectural types. The oldest one is related to the word conventus (= "gathering", "meeting"), which nowadays also defines the complex formed by the church and the adjacent residential buildings. Opposed to the community friars, the de familia or de observantia friars used to live in hermitages, until Paolo Trinci da Foligno officially founded the Observant movement, in 1368. Between the XVI and the XIX century, the Observant movement underwent many internal divisions and reforms, until 1897, when Pope Leone XIII established the Ordo Fratrum Minorum.

The state-of-the-art defines several peculiar characteristics of the Observant convents: the location, away from inhabited areas, the porches on the facades of the churches, the modest but not austere buildings.

Many of the existing Observant convents have lost their original function and value, and some of them are abandoned. Because of their strong link with the landscape and with the local and European history and culture, it is crucial to re-discover them and to make them strategic locations for tourist routes.

References: Stanislao da Campagnola, Le origini francescane come problema storiografico (1979); Anna Maria Amonaci, Conventi toscani dell’osservanza Francescana (1997)


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