Monday, 29 October 2007

San Francesco D'Assisi

After my giddy romp across the world of entertainment over the last week or so, it seemed a good point to seek out something gentler and more spiritually nourishing. I therefore took myself off to a monastery for some quiet contemplation. Well... it sounds good, but in truth a good friend suggested I should go along to see this: the virtual Basilica (and monastery) of San Franceso D'Assisi. The real world monastery, along with the lower and upper churches, date back to the first half of the 13th Century, and are decorated with frescoes by Cimabue and Giotto, parts of which were damaged in an earthquake in 1997, which also killed 4 unfortunates. A more complete description of this world heritage site, with some excellent photos, can be found here. Keep those photos in mind, as you might want to compare them with the ones below! The Second Life site for Assisi is supported by an informative website.

I don't want to dwell too long on this, so I will cut to the chase and let you get a good look first (don't forget - you can click on the images to get larger versions).

Outside (Note there is a visitors' guide HUD):


The Upper Church:




The Lower Church and Crypt:


On arrival this place doesn't look that impressive. There's a number of tourism-related websites and a large gateway, the other side of which lies the basilica and monastery (friary?) complex. You can pick up a HUD here, to provide you with a guided tour. As I passed through the gateway I thought that the external textures were OK, but tending to the bland side. I got no real sense of substance from them.

However, it is when you enter the basilica that it suddenly gets very interesting. You move from the relative blandness of the exterior stonework to the sumptuous, beautifully reproduced interior, with its frescoes, arches and stained glass windows. I hope the pictures above give at least some sense of this. If you click on the various frescoes notices appear, telling you a little about the paintings.

The richness and depth of the build continues downstairs, in the lower church and, below that, the Crypt of Saint Francis. I understand it is a faithful reproduction of the real world building, in all its complexity - and one heck of an achievement.

This is a really interesting build - and well worth the visit, if only to gawp at the many wonderful frescoes. Sure, it's even better visiting the real thing (it's 20 years since I was there) - but we can't all do that. So take the green, energy-efficient, low-emissions route, and visit Assisi in Second Life.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Perhaps I should try the basilica again. I visited when it first opened and was disappointed with the resolution of the frescoes.

There were quite a few visitors then, so perhaps I did not allow enough time for complete resolution.

I had been to the Dresden museum a few days before visiting the basilica and thought the image resolution there was excellent.

- Corman

Aleister Kronos said...

There are a few points where I'd agree that the resolution could be higher, in part due to the relative size of the frescoes. However, I thought they were good (I was the only one there) and so it is likely that other visitors affected the resolution time.

The Dresden Gallery though, is just stunning. The resolution quality is staggeringly high on many of the pictures.

Eppie Hock said...

/me is getting her camera and goes running to the basilica before the tourists flood the place.....