Assisi After the Earthquake

When Umbria suffered an extended earthquake sixteen months ago, international attention was particularly focused on Assisi where unique ceiling paintings by Giotto, Cimabue, Martini and others were destroyed at the famous double church of St Francis.

A recent conference held to mark the first anniversary of the earthquake provided an opportunity to assess the massive restoration project and see the extent of the damage first hand.
On September 26th, 1997, Renaissance vaults collapsed as the unexpected shock filled the upper church with a shower of bricks and rubble. A second shock at 7am the following morning badly damaged the tympanum, causing brick arches under the roof to give way and two large sections of the vaulted ceilings fell, one by the entrance, the other crushing the high altar. 'The upper church was affected much more than the lower because, when we measured the amplification of the shocks, they were three to four times stronger at the top than the bottom,’ explains Professor Croci, a lecturer in the structural engineering principles of historic monuments at the University of Rome, who has been closely involved with the restoration project since the tragedy occurred.

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