Narni: Journey to the Center of Italy

Residential Buildings At Narni
Cellai Stefano / EyeEm / Getty Images

Narni is a small hill town of around 20,000 people located in the Italian province of Terni on the southern boundary of the Umbria region, very near the exact geographical center of Italy.

A Short History of Narni or Narnia

Although there is evidence of Neolithic remains in the area, the first historical document we know of is dated 600 b.c. where Nequinum is mentioned. In 299 we know the town as Narnia, a Roman colony. The name comes from the nearby Nar river, which is called the Nera today. Narni rose in importance with the construction of the Via Flaminia from Rome to Rimini. In the 12th and 14th century Narni became part of the Papal State and developed an important school of painting and goldsmiths.

Getting to Narni by Train

Narni can be reached on the Rome to Ancona train line. The Rome to Florence line stops in Orte where you can get a connection. The Narni station is out of town but served by local bus.

Getting to Narni by Car

The A1 Autostrada del Sole is the fast (and expensive) way to get there from Rome, exiting at Orte for the Orte-Terni connecting road. The free route is the E45 that goes from Terni-Cresena.

Regional Events in Narni

Umbria Travel offers a limited Calendar of Events for Narni.

Interesting Festival in Narni

In Narni on April 25 to the following weekend is the Corsa all'Anello: "Traditional feast which roots date back to the Middle Age, organized during the celebration in Patron St. Giovanale's honor. An impressive competition in which young people of the ancient quarters participate. Dressed in traditional costume, they try to run a spear through a ring which is supported by ropes extending through the houses of Via Maggiore.

What About C.S. Lewis' Narnia?

Over 50 years ago C. S. Lewis invented a place called Narnia. Factmonster presents a bit of speculation:

It has been said that Lewis discovered the name (Narnia) in an atlas as a child, though he may also have come across mention of the city in his university studies.

By chance, the modern-day town of Narni (as it is now known) honors a local saint known as "Blessed Lucy of Narnia." Today the town's Cathedral of Narnia adjoins a shrine to this St. Lucy.

Staying in Narni

For its size,  there are many places to stay in Narni--and prices can be quite reasonable. Some are just outside of town in the countryside, so pay attention to the location if you want to stay right in town.

Narni Attractions

There are a number of interesting buildings in Narni:

  • The Cathedral
  • Church of San Francesco (13th century)
  • Palazzo dei Priori (1275)
  • Palazzo Comunale (1273)
  • Church of Santa Maria Impensole (1175)
  • Torri dei Marzi  (1400)
  • Palazzo Scotti (1500)
  • Underground of San Domenico (13th century)
  • Church of Santa Maria Maggiore (1400)
  • Palazzo Vescovile (Bishop's Palace)
  • Palazzo Arca-Corsini
  • Church of Santa Restituita
  • Palazzo Cardoli (15th century)
  • Opera Beata Lucia (1700)
  • Palazzo Capocaccia (1545)
  • Church of Sant'Agostino (14th century)
  • Church of Santa Margherita (1600)
  • Albornoz Castle (1370)
  • Fonte di Feronia

There's also an interesting walk out of town to the 1st century Ponte Cardona, part of the Roman Aqueduct Formina. Along this wooded walk, you'll also pass the geographical center of Italy benchmark.

Further out of town to the west, there are the interesting ruins of Ocriculum near the modern town of Otricoli.

If you enjoy visiting ruins, especially underground places, Narni has a volunteer group called Subterranea that gives tours. Lots of good information on the site about things to visit as well.

And finally, the nearby cities of Terni and Orte are interesting places to visit as well.

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