The history of the Saint Francis of Assisi Church starts with the arrival of the first Franciscans in Sicily. In 1224 the chronicler Vadingo reported the groundwork of the first Franciscan convent near the Walls of Palermo. However, shortly after, the local clergy with the support of the Saracens chased the friars out from the city. The friars went to Viterbo and appealed to the Pope Gregory IX.
The pontiff ordered Landone, archbishop of Messina, to promote the reconstruction of the convent. In this way the pope took advantage of the absence of Berard of Castagna, archbishop of Palermo gone to Germany with the Emperor Frederick II. Therefore, in 1235 the friars built a new convent by converting an old Byzantine fortification dating back to the military campaign of George Maniakes. In 1239, because of quarrels with the Pope, Frederick II decreed the building's destruction.
In 1255 the Vicar general of Sicily Ruffino Gorgone da Piacenza, chaplain of Pope Alexander IV, entrusted the reconstruction to the bishop of Malta, Roger. The work went on during the period of Charles of Anjou. In 1302 the main portal and the anterior façade were built, both in Chiaramontan-Gothic style. In the 15th century several chapels were built in Gothic and Renaissance style, including the Chapel Mastrantonio, the first manifestation of the Renaissance in Sicily.
Over the centuries the church became rich of artworks thanks to artists like Antonio di Belguardo, Antonio Scaglione, Giuseppe Giacalone, Francesco Laurana, Pietro de Bonitate, Gabriele di Battista, Domenico Pellegrino, Iacopo de Benedetto, Domenico Gagini, Antonello Gagini, Antonio Gagini, Giacomo Gagini, Giuliano Mancino, Antonio Berrettaro, Antonello Crescenzio, Cesare da Sesto, Mariano Smiriglio, Vincenzo degli Azani, Pietro Novelli, Gerardo Astorino and Giacomo Serpotta. As a result, the church represents a mix of different styles, mainly Gothic and Sicilian Baroque.
On 5 March 1823 the building was damaged by an earthquake. The church was restored in the Neoclassical style. Other damages were caused by the air raids during the Second world war. In recent decades the church was restored.
In 1924 Pope Pius XI gave the title of Minor basilica to this building. The church of Saint Francis of Assisi has an important role in the religious life of Palermo: in fact, in this church is enshrined the Simulacrum of the Immaculate Conception that every year, on the evening of December 8, pass through the streets of the historic center among thousands of believers who accompany the procession till the Piazza San Domenico.References:
Roman Walls of Lugo are an exceptional architectural, archaeological and constructive legacy of Roman engineering, dating from the 3rd and 4th centuries AD. The Walls are built of internal and external stone facings of slate with some granite, with a core filling of a conglomerate of slate slabs and worked stone pieces from Roman buildings, interlocked with lime mortar.
Their total length of 2117 m in the shape of an oblong rectangle occupies an area of 1.68 ha. Their height varies between 8 and 10 m, with a width of 4.2 m, reaching 7 m in some specific points. The walls still contain 85 external towers, 10 gates (five of which are original and five that were opened in modern times), four staircases and two ramps providing access to the walkway along the top of the walls, one of which is internal and the other external. Each tower contained access stairs leading from the intervallum to the wall walk of town wall, of which a total of 21 have been discovered to date.
The defences of Lugo are the most complete and best preserved example of Roman military architecture in the Western Roman Empire.
Despite the renovation work carried out, the walls conserve their original layout and the construction features associated with their defensive purpose, with walls, battlements, towers, fortifications, both modern and original gates and stairways, and a moat.
Since they were built, the walls have defined the layout and growth of the city, which was declared a Historical-Artistic Ensemble in 1973, forming a part of it and becoming an emblematic structure that can be freely accessed to walk along. The local inhabitants and visitors alike have used them as an area for enjoyment and as a part of urban life for centuries.
The fortifications were added to UNESCO"s World Heritage List in late 2000 and are a popular tourist attraction.