The Church of San Francesco is one of the oldest churches in Udine, now deconsecrated and used for temporary exhibitions. The church is located in Piazza Girolamo Venerio, about 160 meters away from the Cathedral of Udine and about 350 meters away from the Loggia del Lionello.
The presence of the first Franciscan convent in Udine is documented in 1259. The consecration of the Church of San Francesco, built nearby, dates back to July 1266, and was celebrated by Alberto da Colle, the bishop of Concordia.
In 1769, the Municipality of Udine acquired the convent with the intention of turning it into a hospital. The convent was used as a hospital until 1920s, while the Church of San Francesco was used as a deposit.
The church was heavily damaged by the bombing of the Second World War, then restored. In the last few decades, the church was used for temporary exhibitions, especially by local artists.
The convent, on the other hand, was first used as a history museum and, after a long and heavy restoration, it became the Court of Udine.
The church is a simple Romanesque construction, following the strict Franciscan rules – gabled facade, single nave with wooden trussed roof, three apse chapels, with the larger central one containing the main altar. The interior is a Latin cross, with a single nave, and was completely renovated during the 18th century.
The frescoes preserved inside testify to Giotto influences. On the arch that leads to the presbytery, we can see an Annunciation which was attributed to a follower of Pietro da Rimini. Along the internal walls, there are frescoes of the 14th and 15th centuries by artists of the Umbrian-Tuscan and Emilian schools.
Near the entrance, on the left wall, we can see frescoes with the Stories of Blessed Odorico of Pordenone, which date back to 1440.
HOW TO GET THERE
The Church of San Francesco is located about 800 meters away from the Udine railway station. The closest bus stop is in Via Manzoni 2, about 210 meters away, on the bus Lines 2, 4, 5, 6, 10 and 11.