Orvieto, Perugia, Assisi And Arezzo

These are stopping-off places for a leisurely trip from Rome to Florence and Siena. Orvieto, a fantastic walled city perched on a hill in the midst of a plain, contains in its cathedral the best works of LUCA SIGNORELLI, whose dynamic designs of nude muscular bodies were an inspiration to Michelangelo.

Perugia and Assisi are close together: the former has a museum of Umbrian primitives, but they are insignificant’ by comparison with the great frescoes of GIOTTO and his followers in the Convent Church of St. Francis at Assisi. These are earlier than his Padua frescoes, and nearer the Byzantine in their tendency either to fairly strict symmetry or the extreme opposite: to bizarre designs of apparently unrelated parts, which are ingeniously linked together by themes of line and color. They are much restored, but the color, however old, is fresh and clear in dry, pale corals, blues and tans. The compositions are novel and inventively varied. St. Francis Preaching to the Birds is the most famous; but these are stronger in design: St. Frances Sup-porting the Lateran; St. Francis Restores his Apparel to his Father; St. Francis’s Vision of a Palace and Weapons.

Arezzo contains the greatest frescoes of PIERO DELLA FRANCESCA, another pioneer of the early Renaissance, whose smaller pictures in various museums are sadly faded.