Giotto-St-Francis Giotto, Renunciation of Wordly Goods
Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi, Upper Church

The frescoes were made by late medieval painters from the Roman and Tuscan schools, and include Giotto frescoes and pieces by by Simone Martini, Pietro Lorenzetti, and work which is believed to be Pietro Cavallini.

The Directorate General for Fine Arts of the Ministry for Cultural Heritage and architect Francesco Scoppola were surprised by the changes made to the frescoes.

Bruno Zanardi of University of Urbino, Italy, said: "I saw the site in 2011, and got the impression it was a good job, executed by someone I thought was a capable and expert restorer. But when I went back to the basilica a couple of months ago with my students, I had a very different impression."

Frescoes on one side of the piece in the Chapel of St. Nicholas, which have been restored, are now noticeably tampered with.  The by Giotto portraying the Madonna  at the cross has become dark and dull.

Martini's saints appear two-dimensional, with the decoration and detail ruined. The Virgin Mary at the heart of the piece in the Chapel now has no top coat.

Head restorer Sergio Fusetti commented: "The problem doesn't exist. We carry out regular checks and maintenance, taking off the hard dust that's been deposited on the frescoes. We have never done anything without the authorisation from the superintendency, which is the culture ministry in the territory."

Fusetti has been leading the restoration work since 1997, following an earthquake in the area. "I was the last restorer there after the earthquake. I risked my life," he said.