The first stop of my September trip to Italy will be Assisi, followed by a few days in Bevagna. These towns are only a few kilometres apart, in the hills of Umbria, and they share a St. Francis connection. (Actually, a lot of towns in Umbria have a St. Francis connection!) It's believed that it was in Bevagna where St. Francis preached to the birds, a scene immortalized by Giotto (and reproduced here) as: Preaching to the Birds, painted sometime between 1295-1300.
It's believed St. Francis preached from atop a large stone that still rests inside the church of San Francesco in Bevagna. I intend to check this out. Meanwhile, this scene by Giotto is frescoed on the walls of the Upper Church of the Basilica di San Francesco in Assisi. I've studied it on a previous visit and I'll visit it again in just a few weeks.
Of course, I dislike birds (except robins, but that's not important right now) yet Giotto's congregation of birds doesn't unnerve me. They're kind of beautiful, at least in fresco form. So is this fresco, again by Giotto, titled The Confirmation of the Rule, and painted sometime 1295-1300 in the Upper Church of San Francesco in Assisi. To me, the colours are wonderful.
According to a biography on the website Olga's Gallery (where I found the fresco reproductions,) Giotto di Bondone (1266-1337) was a painter and architect, born in Vespignano, near Florence. Giotto was apparently described by Dante as the foremost painter of his time, but critics suggest his influence was far greater, some judging Giotto to be a revolutionary who altered the course of painting in Western Europe, striking out of the Gothic and Byzantine styles towards the Renaissance.
His most important works are judged to include: the frescos in the Capella degli Scrovegni, in Padua; the Navicella mosaic in Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome; the cycles of frescos depicting scenes from the life of St. Francis, in Assisi; frescos (again, of St. Francis) in Santa Croce in Florence; and the Ognissanti Madonna now in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence.