This small town in southern Umbria can truly be called the heart of Italy as it is the closest town to the geographic center of Italy. Originally called Nequinium, the town was renamed Narnia after the nearby river when it was occupied by the Romans in the 2nd century BC. Although this town is not considered a tourist destination, it does have a number of interesting attractions, particularly the town’s underground tour.
How To Arrive – Buses arrive to and from Piazza Garibaldi to Amelia and Orvieto several times a day. To arrive at Narni by car, take the A1 autostrada, and exit at Magliano Sabina from the south, and the Orte exit from the north. There is a car park in Piazza Garibaldi as well. Trains arrive from both Rome and Orvieto frequently but the Narni/Amelia train station is about 4km below the city center. Once you arrive at the station you need to take a bus up the hill into Narni. Most buses from the station run as trains arrive.
What To See In Narni – Many of Narni’s old city gates remain intact, particularly the eastern Porta Ternana which has twin towers built by Sixtus IV where the Via Flaminia enters Narni. The Flaminia then leads to the busy Piazza Garibaldi, the irregular shaped square that was originally a Roman pool. At one end of Piazza Garibaldi you’ll see Narni’s Duomo dedicated to San Giovenale, the town’s patron saint. The duomo dates back to 1047 but was renovated in the 12th century. There is a mausoleum of the bishops of Narni here that has a tombstone dating back to 558.
From the duomo, if you walk up Via Garibaldi to the central Piazza dei Priori, you come to Palazzo dei Priori that has a portico and loggia designed by Gattapone, who also designed the Palazzo dei Podesta (Palazzo Comunale). both buildings date back to the 14th century. A series of Roman and medieval archaeological stones and finds can be found in the atrium of the Palazzo dei Podesta, while inside the palazzo is a series of frescoes by Benozzo Gozzoli. Casa Sacripanti can also be found in this square, along with Santa Maria in Pensole which has a beautiful Romanesque facade and portico, built in 1175.
Further along Via Mazzini the deconsecrated 12th century Church and Campanile of San Domenico can be found which has now been turned into a public library, historical archive, and art gallery. Of interest here is a door with worn medallions of the 12 apostles, along with the remnants of some interesting medieval frescoes. Along the narrow streets running parallel to Via Mazzini one can find the Church of San Francesco, built in the 14th century on the site it has been stated that St. Francis stayed in 1213. The church is Romanesque, but contains some Gothic elements as well. The interior is covered in frescoes that are well worth visiting.
On the top of Narni one will see the Rocca, an immense fortress built in the 1370′s by Gattapone. Although it was abandoned for many years, the fortress has now been restored and has wonderful views of the surrounding countryside from it’s grounds. The Rocca was commissioned by Cardinal Albornoz who is said to have had a large role in converting Narni from a free commune into a papal-controlled state.
The Museo della Citta di Narni can be found in Palazzo Eroli on Via Aurelio Saffi. This new museum is both a museum and art gallery is well worth a visit with just a nominal charge for entry.
Narni Sotterranea – If visiting Narni than it is well worth visiting Narni’s underground which were discovered recently in 1979. You can take a tour lasting 1 1/2 hours in both Italian or English that guides you through the local history with a look into Roman plumbing and even an underground Roman church with lovely frescoes that survived over time. This underground excavation lies directly under the Church of San Domenico. There is even a path that leads from the church into the underground that it is thought the Dominican monks used to visit their prisoners during the inquisition.
Tours from April to October
Museo della Citta di Narni
Phone – 0744-717117
Festival of San Giovenale, or Corsa all’Anello takes place the three weekends from last week in April and first week in May and contains medieval pageantry with a torchlight procession, neighborhood feasts, and many cultural events.
International Folklore Festival - This festival runs from mid-July through mid-August and involves performances of folk groups from all over the world.
Piazza dei Priori 3
Phone – 0744-715362
Open Tuesday Through Sunday