Chiesa di San Francesco

Ascoli Piceno

This monumental church, its southern flank edging onto Piazza del Popolo, is named after St Francis, who is said to have visited Ascoli in 1215. It was consecrated in 1371, but construction, which started in 1258, took some 300 years and it wasn't until 1549 that the church was completed.

In the austere interior, look out for a 15th-century cross in the left nave that miraculously survived a 1535 fire at the Palazzo dei Capitani, and has reputedly spilled blood twice.

Annexed to the church is the Loggia dei Mercanti, built in the 16th century by the powerful guild of wool merchants to hide their rough-and-tumble shops. As you stroll by, note the dilapidated inscription on the wall. This is a size guide for bricks and tiles used in the Loggia's construction and was written as a message for anyone doing future renovation work. The Latin text is hard to make out, but the gist is that anyone who doesn't use the correct sized bricks will be fined 10 scudos.

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