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The historic town of Narni is in an imposing hilltop position overlooking the Nera Valley. Quite a quiet regional town, the historic old town is pleasant to explore and has several notable monuments. There is also a more sprawling newer town in Narni further down the hill but this is of less interest to visitors.
Brief history of Narni
The town's location on the Roman trade route called the Via Flaminia made it an important, prosperous and rich city not only in the Roman age but also in the centuries that followed.
This was not to last, however, and by the Middle Ages Narni had suffered from barbarian invasions. It was also occupied by the Longobards for a period of time before passing to the family of the Countess of Canossa who owned the town during the following centuries.
Unfortunately regular invasions had serious consequences for the artistic heritage of the city, which was largely destroyed in the 16th century by the Spanish troops of Charles V, and numerous artistic works were lost forever.
In the 17th and the 18th century Narni regained its importance due to its mining and commercial activities.
Explore Narni: tourism and travel guide
There is a lot to enjoy in the old town of Narni, with a cathedral and several churches and lots of medieval streets passing between ancient houses to explore. Our recommended route for a tour of Narni starts in Piazza Garibaldi, which a long time ago was called the Piazza del Lago (Square of the Lake), because of the presence of a large water cistern here.
From Piazza Garibaldi you can follow the route of the ancient Via Flaminia, passing the 'front door of the Bishop' [La Porta del Vescovo].
You will soon reach Piazza Cavour where you will find Narni Cathedral with a facade that still has its 13th century appearance, with its three front entrances.
You can also see some of the transformations carried out by the Lombardi Masters in the 14th and 15th centuries, who reworked part of the cathedral. The monument to the Saints Juvenal and Cassius, rebuilt in its present form in the mid-17th century, is still visible in the 4th aisle on the right.
Continuing along Via Garibaldi you reach Piazza dei Priori, which is the heart of the ancient Roman and medieval city of Narni. The Podestàs Palace is on the left and the Piazza dei Priori on the right, with the Torre Civica nearby.
The Palazzo del Podestà is now the seat of the Municipal Council, and there is also a Library where 15th century manuscripts are held. In this square you can also see the 19th century Municipal Theater and the 13th century Church of Saint Francis.
Your route through Narni can continue along Via Mazzini, where you can admire two 17th century palaces, called Bocciarellis Palace and Moscas Palace, and the ancient Church of Santa Maria Pensole.
From Piazza Mazzini you now arrive at the Piazza XII Giugno, where the 12th century Church of Saint Domenico is situated. This church contains important works of art such as "The Annunciation" by Benozzo Gozzoli (Benozzo from Lese, Florence: 1420-1497).
Have a stroll around to admire the other important palazzos in this square then continue along Via delle Mura to see the remains of the ancient fortifications and the 15th century defensive walls of Narni.
Here you reach Porta Nuova and Porta delle Fiere, and also important 15th century palaces such as the famous Gattamelatas House. You can see the impressive Cappoccias Palace in Gattamelata Street in Narni.
Finally, the important 17th century Church of Santa Margherita is located in the southern part of Narni, in a region called "Terziere di Mezule".
Time for a break...
After exploring Narni you will be pleased to discover that rest and relaxation is taken just as seriously as historic heritage, and there are at least twenty restaurants, inns and pizzerias to choose from.
See also history of Narni
Where is Narni?
Narni is situated on the border between the Umbria and Lazio regions of central Italy, and on the ancient Roman trade route called the Via Flaminia (Flaminia Road), which began from Rome and continued towards the sea ports on the Adriatic. It is about 15 kilometres west of Terni.
You can find more local travel ideas in the Umbria guide.