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San Fermo Inferiore: a spiritual and artistic treasure

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san fermo Church Verona

 
From the right transept of the Church we find a "forest" of pillars once covered in frescoes. The spaces under the main basilica are full of holy atmosphere and precious art works. The church is very little known but truly a treasure to discover in Verona!
 
The "Basilica di San Fermo", meaning the upper church, contains great masterpieces you can admire: here you can find the Annunciation by Pisanello, the splendid grave of the mausoleum of the Tower, the dramatic sculptural group of the lamentation of Christ. But it's in the lower basilica that the most authentic spirituality reveals to the audience. In winter you can have a direct access from the street, as the mass is on, while in summer you should arrive from the right transept of the Church.

From an old stair inside the first and most ancient cloister, you can admire a fresco of the beginning of the 14th century, depicting the Madonna sitting on the throne with the child and two Saints and some grave slabs.
The largest cloister of the old convent of San Fermo is now home for the "Soprintendenza ai beni architettonici e ambientali". From here a beautiful view of the lower basilica which preserves almost in its entirety the primitive structure of the Arabian original Romanesque setting (1065). With the Church of San Lorenzo San Fermo celebrates the beginning of the great season of Verona Romanesque.
The church plan is a Latin cross, developing into three naves, with rows of stone pillars, square and massive, alternating with other thinner that divide the nave from the two sides.
Mighty stone columns support arches and bays with ancient frescoes of rare beauty by the Verona school, ranging from the 12th to 14th centuries. In particular, the third pillar offers the baptism of Jesus and, on the side, a sweet Madonna nursing her child.
In the presbytery there is a stunning wooden crucifix of fourteenth century, of a refined design and of an intense plasticity. 
The religious buildings of the Cluniac monks (from the 10th century) is characterized by the numbers of the chapels and the rigour of shapes. Near the apse of the right transept, is the stone on which, according to tradition, were beheaded Saints Fermo and Rustico.

San Fermo Inferiore is benedictine, while the upper Church was completed around 1350.
Traces of pre-existing floors are even older, dating back to the 5th and the 8th century.
From the artistic point of view, the frescoes, which originally covered all walls and pillars, are the most beautiful and the most significant iconographic relics from the past.
What to look for?
Besides the aforementioned Baptism of Christ, you should check for Christ the judge, the Archangel Gabriel, Annunciation and St. Jerome, all from the 12th century.
A beautiful 14th-century "Annunciazione" is very interesting, too,  as well as the magnificent tomb seal of the Famiglia Banda, the tomb seal of the Franciscan prior  Daniel Gusmerio

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