The heart of the Complex is the Church of San Francesco, with the splendid frescoes painted by Benozzo Gozzoli, author of the decorations contained in the chapel of San Girolamo and in the apse. The Scenes from the life of St. Francis (1542) are to be counted among the most important well-maintained painting of the cycles of the Renaissance.
The Complex also includes the picture gallery, the ancient wine cellars of the Franciscan Convent, the archaeological findings and marble gravestone fragments of various ages which are reunited in the Crypt and spaces dedicated to contemporary art exhibition.
THE CHURCH MUSEUM OF SAN FRANCESCO
Its extraordinary cycle of frescoes is the glory of Montefalco. The Church was built between 1335 and 1338 by the Friars Minor, it has a rectangular plant and it is composed by a central nave ending in a pentagonal apse, admirably frescoed by Benozzo Gozzoli with the Scenes from the life of St. Francis.
The twenty episodes from the Saint’s life are narrated in twelve scenes arranged on three registers. The vaults of the apse are decorated with vegetal elements, figures of Franciscan Saints and the Glory of St. Francis, whereas the fresco on the counter-façade depicting the Nativity with the Eternal in Glory among Angels and the Annunciation was decorated by Pietro Vannucci known as Perugino in 1503.
THE PICTURE GALLERY
As a result of the abolition of the religious guilds, the Municipality of Montefalco had to administer the whole property which belonged to the church including several artworks that are housed in the four exhibitions rooms of the gallery such as paintings, frescoes fragments originating from other churches of the territory, as well as textiles and objects. Among the authors are Antonio Aquili, known as Antoniazzo Romano, Niccolò di Liberatore known as L'Alunno, Cristoforo di Iacopo and Melozzo da Forlì.
There are several paintings attributed to Francesco Melanzio, a painter that was born in Montefalco around 1460 to whom Gabriele D’annunzio wrote some lines in his poem dedicated to Montefalco (“E l’azzurro non desti anche al tuo biondo Melanzio, e il verde…”).
The textile works’ collection is quite varied and reflect the strong link between the religious and civil sphere, it is composed by liturgical hangings and altar tablecloths, pillowcases, curtains, embroidered fabric fragments, shawls and shoes. Evidence of the medieval tournaments and games is the “Saracino”, a puppet representing a Saracen, that was hit during the jousts. The collection also includes parts of civil uniforms, such as tailcoats, waistcoats, feluccas and tails.
FRANCISCAN WINE CELLARS
Montefalco and the wine represent a lasting union between art and everyday life, culture and society. Unearthed during the last restoration works of the Complex, the ancient wine cellars of the Conventual Friars have been accessible and open to visitors since 2006. The spaces are set up with materials from the eighteenth and nineteenth century tied to grape processing and wine production. The historic tanks for the gathering and the pressing of the grapes used to contain wine are perfectly preserved and it is also possible to see the place for the winepresses. The friars’ wine production was documented in the Municipal Statue of 1962 which gives indications concerning its sales, the Franciscan wine cellars are also considered as “the largest in Montefalco”.
The preserved archaeological documentation comes from the territory of Montefalco and it attests the occupation of the whole area in the Roman age, when the rural area was under the administrative jurisdictions of Spoletium, Mevania, Tuder e Trebiae and occupied by Roman patrician villas. Among the works displayed is the Marble Statue of Hercules.
The foundation of the city is quite recent, it dates back to the early Middle Ages around the 8th and 9th centuries. A significant number of settlements promoted the construction of churches and the flourishing of local craft industries.