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Narni

Narni is known to be one of the oldest cities in the Umbria region. Its name itself has legendary origins, deriving from the mythological city of Narnia, mentioned in Ovid’s Latin poem “Fasti“; The history of Narni is therefore rich and fascinating and extends for over two millennia, the city was an important settlement of the ancient Romans, who called it Narnia. During the Roman period, in fact, the city was important for its strategic position and its communication routes, in particular the Via Flaminia, one of the main Roman roads that connected Rome to the Adriatic through Umbria. During the Middle Ages, Narni continued to prosper, becoming an important center under the rule of the Lombards and later the Franks. The city was involved in many political and military struggles of the time, such as the dispute between the Papacy and the Empire. A notable event in the history of Narni is the episode of the Bridge of the Towers (Ponte delle Torri), an imposing medieval structure that crosses a deep gorge. Built in the 13th century, the bridge is an impressive example of medieval engineering and an iconic symbol of the city. Over the centuries, Narni has experienced periods of prosperity and decline, suffering the consequences of wars, epidemics, and political changes. However, it has retained its historical and artistic charm, with numerous medieval buildings, churches, and works of art that testify to its rich history. Today, Narni is a popular tourist destination for those looking to immerse themselves in its thousand-year history and charming medieval atmosphere.

One of the most impressive sacred buildings dating back to the twelfth century is the Duomo di Narni (Cathedral of San Giovenale), an important striking work of art with a façade of Romanesque architecture, with a beautiful entrance door flanked by columns and carved decorations. The façade is dominated by a large rose window, which illuminates the interior of the church with daylight. The cathedral’s bell tower stands majestically next to the façade, with a slender structure and a series of mullioned window openings that allow bells to ring through the city. The interior of the cathedral is spacious and bright, with a central nave and two side aisles. The Romanesque columns and Gothic arches create an evocative and solemn atmosphere. The cross vault is decorated with frescoes and paintings that tell religious and biblical stories. The cathedral’s high altar is a focal point of the building, decorated with sculptures and paintings depicting scenes from the life of St. Juvenal and other saints. The altar is often decorated with candles and flowers during liturgical celebrations. Along the side aisles are several chapels decorated with paintings, sculptures and ornate altars dedicated to saints and madonnas venerated locally.

A true icon of Narni is the Ponte delle Torri, an imposing medieval structure that crosses a deep gorge. Built in the 13th century, this bridge offers spectacular views of the city and its surroundings. Located on the highest point of the city, the beautiful Rocca Albornoziana, a medieval fortress built in the fourteenth century, restored and now hosts cultural events and exhibitions. Also worth visiting are the Church of Santa Maria Impensole, the Church of San Domenico and the Eroli museum located inside Palazzo Eroli. This museum offers an overview of Narni’s history and culture through an extensive collection of archaeological finds, artwork, and historical artifacts.

Narni Underground is one of the city’s most fascinating attractions, offering visitors the opportunity to explore the labyrinth of caves and tunnels steeped in history and mystery, with origins dating back to Roman times and extending to the Middle Ages and beyond, beneath the surface of the city. The caves and underground passages of Narni served various purposes over the centuries. In the past, they were used as cisterns for collecting rainwater, as shelters during times of war, and as places of worship and burial. Some of the underground tunnels were also used for commercial purposes, such as cellars for storing food and wine. One of the most evocative places in Narni Underground is the so-called “Via degli Scavi“, an underground path where visitors can admire ancient cisterns, walkways and niches carved into the rock, as well as discover the stories and legends surrounding this mysterious place. History and archaeology enthusiasts will find plenty to explore and discover in the bowels of Narni.

Guided tours of Narni Underground offer a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in the hidden history of the city and to better understand its evolution over the centuries. Being one of the oldest cities in Umbria, with a history dating back to Roman times, exploring its streets and alleys means immersing yourself in centuries of history.

The city is rich in artistic and architectural treasures, but also in natural treasures such as the Mole di Narni. The Mole di Narni and the natural pools along the Nera river offer spectacular natural views and the possibility of hiking, and outdoor activities in a suggestive and unspoiled environment. The natural pools of Narni are one of the most evocative attractions in the area and offer an oasis of relaxation surrounded by nature. These pools are located along the Nera River, in the vicinity of the town of Narni, and are known locally as “The Falls“. The natural pools are formed by small waterfalls and ponds of crystal clear water surrounded by rocks and lush vegetation. The cool, clear waters of the Nera River make this an ideal place to cool off during the hot summer days and to enjoy the natural beauty of the surroundings.

Narni hosts numerous cultural events and festivals throughout the year, including art exhibitions, concerts, historical re-enactments, and traditional festivals. Attending one of these events is a great way to experience the vibrant and festive atmosphere of the city. One of the oldest traditions of Narni, the Corsa all’Anello, a historical re-enactment that takes place every year on the third Sunday of May. Knights in medieval costume defy each other in a competition to thread a ring with a spear as they gallop through the streets of the city.

The Narni Black Festival, on the other hand, takes place every year in July, it is a music festival dedicated to rock and metal music, attracting musicians and fans from all over the world. It offers live concerts, artistic performances, and a lively nighttime atmosphere. Another very interesting festival is the Narni Arts Festival: a multidisciplinary festival that celebrates art in all its forms, with art exhibitions, theatrical performances, concerts, film screenings and creative workshops. It usually takes place during the summer and offers a wide range of cultural events to suit all tastes. Another event dedicated to rock and metal music is the Narni Black Experience which is held every year in November and features live concerts, art exhibitions and meetings with artists and musicians in the sector.

Narni also offers the opportunity to taste the delicious Umbrian cuisine, with its traditional dishes and local wines. The city’s restaurants and taverns serve regional specialties prepared with fresh, high-quality ingredients. In the culinary tradition of Narni andUmbria in general, there are dishes rich in authentic flavors and local ingredients such as Strangozzi with truffles, a fresh pasta typical of Umbria, similar to large spaghetti served with a truffle sauce, represent a delicious and tasty dish, perfect for those who love intense flavors; porchetta,a very popular dish throughout Umbria, a roast pork seasoned with aromatic herbs, which give the dish a unique and irresistible flavor; pappardelle with wild boar,a type of large and rather thick pasta, ideal to accompany robust sauces such as wild boar sauce, a very common meat in Umbrian cuisine and is often cooked stewed or in sauces rich in flavors and accompanied with torta al testo or crescia , two dishes from Umbria, similar to a focaccia or piadina, but thicker.

Narni, with its thousand-year history, its artistic and natural beauties, the food and the hospitality of its inhabitants, remains forever in the hearts of anyone who has had the privilege of visiting it.

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