Cannara, Franciscan Third Order and Piandarca (Place of the sermon of San Francesco to the birds)

Cannara is located on the left bank of the river Topino and is located almost in the center of the Umbrian Valley.

The first settlements in this area that was very boggy (Cannara derives its name from “cane”, water plant still persisting today) are dated by historians around X century. Originally, and for many centuries it was a well-fortified castle with high walls and towers, which became common in the thirteenth century. It was long threatened by the expansionism of the near Assisi, until the people not decided to submit in Perugia (1291), in exchange for protection. In 1424 he became a fief of the powerful Baglioni family of Perugia, who kept it under their rule until 1648, when it dies Malatesta V, the last descendant of that branch.

Since then, and until the Unification of Italy (1861), belonged to the Papal States.

At Cannara, according to tradition, San Francesco of Assisi founded the Franciscan Third Order in 1221, now called the Third Order Secular, and clothed gown the first follower of this way of life lay in the sign of the Gospel: Blessed Lucio Modestini from Cannara. The other two orders are consecrated and are made by the Friars Minor and the Poor Clare nuns. Numerous sources and gravestones as well as some of Cannara churches have remained as testimony to this important event.

More and tradition has it that San Francesco of Assisi did the famous sermon to the birds as demonstrated by “The Little Flowers”: San Francesco, when he has preached to the people of Cannara who wanted to follow abandoning their homes, and reassured them that in Cannara he would have thought of something for the salvation of their souls (conception of the Third Order), he went away from there “…et venne fra Cannaia et Bevagni. Et passando oltra con quello fervore, levò li occhi in alto et vide alquanti arbori ad lato la via in su li quali era grande moltitudine de ucelli…”  is this the beginning of the story of the sermon to the birds.

The two famous events related to the life and works of San Francesco of Assisi are immortalized in two important frescoes. The first is the establishment of the Franciscan Third Order, sixteenth century painting of the painter Baldassare Croce where it is clearly visible behind the Saint, Castle Cannara.

The work is located in the papal chapel of San  Pio V nella basilica di Santa Maria degli Angeli alla Porziuncola. Under the picture reads “De mundi contemptu dicentem Franciscum / Canarienses turmatim sequi cupiunt / his ad sua remissis tertium ordinem / primo patriarca instituit”.

The other important artistic testimony consists of Sermon to the Birds, by Benozzo Gozzoli of 1452 picture n the church of San Francesco in Montefalco, where once again you can see in the background the castle of Cannara.


  • Parish Church of San Matteo: the fourteenth century, was converted into its present form in the years 1788 – 1793, according to the project of an architect Giuseppe Brizi. The spired bell tower partially collapsed after the earthquake of 1832, it was rebuilt with the current end cap, Eng. Domenico Martinangeli in 1860. Inside is exposed an interesting table Nicolò di Liberatore, representing the Madonna Enthroned with Child Jesus between St. Francis of Assisi and St. Matthew the Evangelist;

  • Church of San Biagio: is documented since 1244, when the monks of San Benedetto del Subasio the numbered among their possessions. The front is a typical example of late Umbrian Romanesque, built of blocks of white and pink stone. The interior is made from a single environment covered by a four sails separated by robust ribs. The late-sixteenth-century high altar painting is on display depicting the Trinity with St. Lawrence and St. Benedict of Norcia, San Biagio and Blessed Lorenzo Giustiniani;
  • Church of San Sebastiano (deconsecrated and today Municipal Auditorium): was first documented in 1184 while the bell tower dates back to the eighteenth century. Of the original furnishings are not that pleasant stucco on the walls, painted in 1976 with a clumsy intervention in tempera. The restoration, the inauguration as an auditorium in 2008, has brought to light the original colors of the time and high altar, where he was found a fresco depicting the castle of Cannara;
  • Church of St. John the Baptist: documented since 1333, has been transformed in the current prospectus gabled supposedly in the works of 1584. In the façade there is a simple portal with wooden doors of the late sixteenth century. In eighteenth-century altar, flanked by contemporary plaster statues of St. Liberius right and St. Rufino left, presents the beautiful panel painted in tempera depicting the Madonna and Child with St. John the Baptist and St. Sebastian, he followed in 1482 by the painter Nicolò Liberatore, said the pupil, and his son Lattanzio;
  • Church of San Francesco: built between the fifteenth and sixteenth century, it was dedicated to the Saint of Assisi, who, according to tradition, just in Cannara would have created the Franciscan Third Order, and did the famous Sermon to the birds in the locality Piandarca. On the main altar, with a fine show in wood and stucco, it is placed an interesting painting of the first quarter of the seventeenth century depicting the Dressing of a Third Order of woman. The altar is flanked by two niches. On the right is the statue of St. Francis (1660) while on the left is placed a St. Elizabeth (nineteenth century);
  • Church of the Good Death (that of the Sacred Stigmata of St. Francis) is transformation, which took place over the centuries, the small chapel where St. Francis of Assisi, according to tradition, gave the first suit of the Franciscan Third Order of Blessed Lucio Modestini Cannara. In the simple statement late sixteenth century, recently restored (early twentieth century), is a plaque that commemorates the founding of the Third Order. In the first left altar it is venerated Black Madonna of Loreto depicted in the precious simulacrum of poplar (restored in 2005), which for a time in the Holy House of Loreto replaced the original was stolen in France by Napoleon’s troops in 1797;
  • Palazzo Majolica Landrini: inside is visible a hovel in which St. Francis of Assisi lived during his visits to Cannara;
  • Piandarca: is a town in the municipality of Cannara where, according to tradition, took place the famous sermon to the birds of St. Francis of Assisi. The spot where the miracle took place is marked by a stone located along the ancient road that connected the castle of Cannara to that of Bevagna in an area still untouched today, reached via a path that begins just outside the village and winds through the fields. Near the stone and along the present road to Bevagna (SP 403) was built in 1926 also a small shrine to commemorate the event. In the newsstand niche depicts St. Francis between two trees with a swallow on his left shoulder by the painter Castore Vignaroli; while the ceramic frame around the fresco is the sculptor Bruno Bini.


Museums and theatres

–  City Museum of Cannara: Opened May 30, 2009 hosts mostly artefacts found in the archaeological excavations of the nearby village of Collemancio on a Roman settlement called “Urvinum Hortense”. Among the many findings exposed the most important is undoubtedly the mosaic subject to 65 square meters Nile belonging to the Baths of Urvinum Hortense and unearthed in 1932 by Professor Giovanni Bizzozzero, one of the first far-sighted scholars to undertake the excavation Collemancio. The museum has also set up a room dedicated to the history of the band of Cannara;

Ettore Thesorieri Theatre: built in 1767, was originally called the Lion Theatre, because the sipario was painted a lion sitting on a pillar. He had two rows of wooden boxes supported by sturdy columns that reached to the ceiling. It was restored in 1780 by the decorator Perugia Valentino Carattoli and later became Municipal Theatre.

In 1901 he was named the Municipal Council to Ettore Thesorieri along the street adjacent. It has been transformed into its current form in the late seventies.

The last restoration and subsequent reopening took place in 2015.