Saturday, 16 January 2016

Umbria - Italy's green heart (day 3)

Our last day included a visit to Narnian ancient hilltown that overhangs a narrow gorge of the Nera River in the province of Terni. It is very close to the Geographic center of Italy. There is a stone on the exact spot with a sign in multiple languages
Like many of the smaller towns of Umbria, Narni is still of strikingly medieval appearance today, with stone buildings, and narrow cobblestone streets. The town is famous for one of the largest Roman bridges (Ponte d'Augusto]) ever built, by which the Via Flaminia crossed the Nera. One arch of the bridge still stands; it is some 30 meters high.
Other sights include:
  • Duomo (Cathedral).
  • Eroli Museum with a Domenico Ghirlandaio's altarpiece.
  • Church of Santa Maria Impensole.
  • Communal Palace (13th century).
  • Palazzo dei Priori, located in the ancient Roman forum's site.
  • Rocca Albornoziana (Albornoz' Castle), overlooking the town, now hosting temporary exhibitions.
  • Romanesque church of Santa Pudenziana, just outside the town.
  • Church of Sant'Agostino, decorated with 18th-century tromp-l'oeil frescoes.
  • Benedictine abbey of San Cassiano.

I love that the imaginary land of 
Narnia, described in the works of C. S. Lewis, was named after Narni after he came across the name in an atlas as a child. Magical!


Our visit concluded with a tour of Narni Sotterranea, situated under St. Dominic's monastery area, the entrance is in a 12th century church, discovered just 30 years ago. This church still preserves some of the most ancient frescos of the city. Through  a passage in the masonry we enter into a large room with a roman cistern, which is probably the remains of a roman house, a "domus". Then, through a long narrow passage, we reach a large dark room which was the Tribunal of the Inquisition, where the accused heretics were put on trial. Several documents, discovered in the municipal and Vatican Archives and Trinity College in Dublin, and the traces left on the masonry by the torture instruments , prove the existence of these trials. A little cell, unique in this way in Italy, gives evidence, through graffiti on its wall, of the pain suffered by those who were imprisoned there to be put on trial. One of them left a message in a graphic code that still isn't completely decoded.
A photogaphic exibition shows the instruments used by the Tribunal to extort confessions from those accused of heresy. The tour of "Narni Underground" ends in the big cistern of the medieval "Lacus", under Garibaldi Square.

Our tour was conducted by one of the original founders of the caves, although he spoke little English, and me even less Italian, I was captivated by his story. 

  
   
  
  
  


A meander through the streets of Narni, more pretty doorways and intriguing alleyways... couldn't you just wander for hours!
  

Our next stop, the fortress Rocca Albornoz which houses an interactive museum through 14 rooms of medieval history. On display were weapons that were used in battles and tournaments, costumes and fashions depicting the standards of beauty of that time; an exhibition of musical instruments; a true discovery of the myths, legends, truths and secrets of the Middle Ages.

Not to mention a fantastic aerial view of the hillside towns around Narni.



Unfortunately, this is where our tour of Terni stopped. I look forward to visiting again with family and exploring even more of Italy's beautiful green heart. Umbria.

For further information on the areas visited, please click below;
Narni
Terni

Julie xx