Narni Sotterranea

Top choice in Umbria

Narni’s main drawcard is this extraordinary subterranean underworld. Discovered by a group of young speleologists in 1977, and originally accessed through an opening in a hillside vegetable garden, it unravels like something out of a Dan Brown novel. Tours take in a 13th-century Benedictine church, covered head to toe in frescoes; a Roman cistern; ancient aqueducts; and, most chillingly, an Inquisition courtroom and jail cell, covered in prisoner graffiti.

Roerto Nini, one of the six cavers who discovered the site, still leads some tours, which are in Italian, though audioguides are available in English, French and German, and written guides in several other languages. He has spent a lifetime studying his finds and tells how his research has taken him from the Vatican archives to Trinity College in Dublin.

The hour-long tour ends in the deconsecrated 12th-century San Domenico church, which is normally closed to the public outside of special events and concerts.

Guided tours run at noon and 4pm weekdays; at noon, 3pm, 4.15pm and 5.30pm on Saturdays; and at 10am, 11.15am, 12.30pm, 3pm, 4.15pm and 5.30pm on Sundays from mid-June to mid-September. During the rest of the year visits are limited to weekends. Check the website for details.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Umbria attractions

1. Museo della Città e del Territorio

0.11 MILES

Housed in the 17th-century Palazzo Eroli, Narni's principal museum packs several wow moments into its small collection. Chief among these are two 15th…

2. Parco dei Mostri

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Some 17km north of Viterbo at Bomarzo, the Parco dei Mostri is an eccentric folly that will entertain kids and adults alike. The brainchild of Vicino…

3. Chiesa di San Pietro

18.25 MILES

This big landmark church overlooks the main Via Flaminia (SS3) just outside the southern end of town. A fine example of Romanesque architecture, it was…

4. Teatro Romano

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Accessible though the Museo Archeologico, this well-preserved Roman amphitheatre often hosts live performances during the summer; check with the museum or…

5. Museo Archeologico

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Spoleto's archaeological museum, housed in a 15th-century monastery on the western edge of Piazza della Libertà, holds a well-curated collection of Roman…

6. Palazzo Collicola Arte Visive

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7. Museo del Tessile e del Costume

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Housed in Palazzo Rosari-Spada, this museum holds a collection of antique noble finery from the 15th to the 20th century, donated from the wardrobes of…

8. Arco di Druso e Germanico

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This ancient arch, built in the 1st century AD and named after the Emperor Tiberius' sons, originally formed the monumental entrance to Spoleto's Roman…