New discovery in an 800-year-old Italian fresco

A popular stop on the road between Florence and Rome is the small hilltop town of Assisi. It’s a picturesque place, and it’s famous as the birthplace of St. Francis of Assisi. A few EF College Break trips make a stop in the town, with a chance to visit its most famous sight: the St. Francis Basilica. The basilica is well-known for its wall frescoes painted by a 13th-century artist named Giotto di Bondone. And that’s where the breaking news comes in.

It turns out that Giotto left a little hidden surprise in one of the frescoes: He painted a devil’s face.

I guess that’s kind of boring news now that I think about it, but I do like the idea of this 13th-century painter leaving a little hidden surprise in his fresco, never imagining that on November 7, 2011, word would be spreading all over the world on the internet.

They say no one has noticed the devil’s face until now because Giotto hid it so expertly within the folds of some clouds. Millions of people have come through the basilica since the frescoes were painted, so it’s pretty amazing it’s taken this long for anyone to see it. They say it’s hard to see it from the floor, and it was only discovered during some restoration work.

Anyway, this article shows close-ups of the devil’s face. I think it’s kind of cool, this little joke from the distant past. If you make a stop in Assisi, be sure to look for it.

Photo: jameschipmunk via Flickr (CC)

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