Franciscan Landscapes: the Observance between Italy, Portugal and Spain

  • Andrade, Maria Filomena (PI)
  • Bertocci, Stefano (PI)
  • Fontes, João Luís Inglês (Researcher)
  • Pancani, Giovanni (Researcher)
  • Salvestrini, Francesco (Researcher)
  • Cioli, Federico (Student)
  • Cottini, Anastasia (Student)
  • Genin, Soraya (PI)
  • Paio, Alexandra (Researcher)
  • Brandão, Filipe (Researcher)
  • Volzone, Rolando (Scholarship holder)
  • Soler Sala, Maria (PI)
  • Garí de Aguilera, Blanca (Researcher)
  • Jornet Benito, Núria (Researcher)
  • Ferrer, Marc (Scholarship holder)
  • Mallofré López, Bet (Scholarship holder)
  • Alves, Carlos (Researcher)

Project Details


Franciscan Observants (14th century) is a reformed branch of the mendicant order of St. Francis of Assisi and intended to return to the strict observance his Rule and Testament. Giovanni della Valle e Paoluccio di Vagnozzo Trinci of Foligno (Italy), Rodrigo Martinez de Lara (Spain) and Gonzalo Mariño (Portugal) are key figures in the genesis and expansion of the Franciscan Observance in the Mediterranean area. The proposal aims to create a dialogue with the historical research already carried out, including a study of the Franciscan Observance material legacy – buildings, landscape, archives and libraries – that is rarely deepened. This gap needs to be filled in order to understand the historical - but also contemporary - values of the buildings and to promote, protect and enhance this significant CH. In the 46 settlements distributed among Italy, Spain and Portugal is detected a loss of the original materiality, function and values. The dissolution of the religious orders (19th century) and the consequent abandonment and sale by the State, in addition to climatic factors, calamities (as the recent earthquakes in Central Italy) - among others - led to the actual poor conditions.
The European religious heritage is at risk and its buildings are often not adapted to the needs of modern society. Their management and maintenance is often short on resources or entrusted to voluntary personnel. To ensure their survival, a conscious use of the soil, respect for natural resources and safeguarding ecosystems are necessary. The project involves the development of a documentation protocol through digital survey operations, which represent the fundamental basis for the critical analysis and Cultural Heritage (CH)
management. This digital data provides a monitoring tool on the actual status of the built heritage and the surrounding. In particular, the proposal aims to analyze the CH of the Franciscan Observance from a material and immaterial point of view: artifacts, religious architecture and landscapes will be investigated in relation to the values linked to sustainable integration in the surrounding area and to the influence that the Order has had and still has in the development of society. This results of the survey will enstablish a heterogeneous database, which includes various information derived from different sources (eg historical documents, texts, photos, technical drawings, 3D models, maps).

Layman's description

The spiritual legacy of St. Francis of Assisi (1181/82-1226) characterises European culture and survives through his rules, spiritual texts and mendicant orders; despite this, many architectural complexes have lost their original function and values. The importance of mendicant friars in the transformation of urban and rural landscapes has been recognized only
recently. The project aims to study the Italian-Spanish Portuguese Franciscan Observance network, in order to define a “Atlas” of documentation and knowledge for conservation, protection and promotion of this scattered Cultural Heritage (CH). The remote location of these buildings and their connection with the surrounding landscape and territory instances the issue of peripheral and abandoned areas and contributes to defining a map of criticalities.
The proposal aims at combining traditional and innovative techniques in order to develop risk assessment methodologies, protocols, and tools and to create user-friendly interfaces for the management and the enhancement of CH. The poor conditions of some buildings, due to hydrogeological instability, abandonment or earthquakes, require the definition of strategies for the conservation, protection and management of this vulnerable heritage. Furthermore, the project aims at developing new strategies for layered experiences through
Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) and innovative methods to reuse, through the interaction, the CH, by designing hiking and cycling routes.
The expected outcomes will facilitate awareness of European citizenship based on the sharing of common values and achievements and will promote an understanding of Europe's history based on its physical, intangible and natural heritage. Noting that the identification of a common European cultural heritage may be achieved via cultural routes tracing the history of peoples, migrations, and the spread of the major European currents of civilization in the fields of philosophy, religion, culture, arts, science, technology, and trade.
Effective start/end date1/09/2029/02/24

Collaborative partners

UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This project contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 4 - Quality Education
  • SDG 9 - Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure


  • Heritage Routes
  • Conservation, Protection and Reuse
  • Digital Humanities
  • Franciscan Observance Landscapes


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