Exploring Narni’s winding, medieval streets

Narni, Umbria, ItalyThis past summer, my track-and-field-addicted son attended a running camp in the Umbrian hill town of Narni – in central Italy.

I’ve travelled a lot in Umbria, but it was my first time in this little village.

Picking my son and dropping him off for his camp, I was quite envious he got to enjoy a full week in this picturesque spot.

Narni, Umbria, ItalyNot surprisingly, he said it was most picturesque at night, all illuminated and quiet when many of the day trip tourists left.

Today’s Narni has a little over 20,000 inhabitants. There are traces of populations here since Neolithic times.

The Umbran population resided here until they were conquered by the Ancient Romans in 299 B.C. and the town was named Narnia, a name which derived from the nearby river Nahar (now called Nera).

Narni, Umbria, ItalyNarni’s status grew with the construction of the celebrated Roman road system (of the famed expression ‘All roads lead to Rome’).

The Via Flaminia was constructed and by 90 B.C. Narnia/Narni became a municipality. Its strategic position left the burgeoning settlement vulnerable to Barbarian invasions.

Narni’s Golden Age occurred between the 12th and 16th centuries, when many of its impressive palaces and churches were constructed.

Narni, Umbria, ItalyThe San Francesco church was built in the spot where Saint Francis used to preach during his stay in Narni in 1213. The frescoes were painted by local artists, and are well worth a visit.

I visited here during the annual music festival, and was treated to a cello rehearsal as I wandered the ancient church to admire its art. The 12th century cathedral also merits a visit.

The music festival itself, which I had never heard of before, offers plenty of free concerts and recitals for visitors. It might be worth timing your visit with that event.

Narni, Umbria, ItalyThere is also an Underground Narni tour, which I didn’t have time for on this visit, but will be on my list for next time.

Narni is a great wandering town, and I loved passing through its winding streets on my two visits here this summer. My son became even more intimate with the town – since he and his team ran up and down its steep cobblestoned streets for hours during a treasure hunt. Oh, youth!

Definitely stop by medieval, hilltop Narni the next time you are in Umbria.

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