A Franciscan tour of Ascoli Piceno: the Main Cloister of the Church of St.Francis
The historic complex of St. Francis -consisting of the Church and two Cloisters– is one of the attractions you cannot miss when visiting Ascoli Piceno.
The Main Cloister can be accessed from Via del Trivio through a magnificent 14th-century portico characterized by twenty Gothic round arches and Corinthian columns raised on plinths. In the centre of the cloister is an octagonal well. Funded by a bequest from a local nobleman, the construction of the cloister began in 1565 and finished in 1623. A commemorative plaque reminds visitors that two illustrious local Franciscan figures -Pope Nicholas IV and Pope Sixtus V- stayed at this complex. Used as military barracks in the past, the Main Cloister is now commonly referred to as “Piazza della Verdura” (literally “the square of the vegetable market”) after the market that is held here every day.
The so-called Minor Cloister, attached to the main one, dates back to the 13th century and consists of two storeys: the lower storey features twenty-two round arches, while the upper one is characterized by an elegant loggia of forty-four little arches. In the centre of the garden is an octagonal well -similar to that in the main cloister- where the name of the person who funded its construction is carved in the stone: “QUISTOPOZIO A FACTU FARE IO JOVANNE DE PELA”.
After World War II, this part of the Franciscan complex was sold and the Minor Cloister annexed to a new building and is now a private area.
Learn more about the archaeological importance of the area surrounding the Main Cloister!
AUTHOR: Lella Palumbi, expert in art history