Narni Sotterranea

Useful Information

Location: Narni, San Bernardo, former convent of San Domenico, former church of San Michele Arcangelo.
Open: APR to JUN Sun, Hol 10, 11:15, 12:30, 15, 16:15, 17:30.
JUL to AUG Mon-Fri 12, 17, Sun, Hol 10, 11:15, 12:30, 15, 16:15, 17:30.
SEP to OCT Sun, Hol 10, 11:15, 12:30, 15, 16:15, 17:30.
NOV to MAR Hol 11, 12:15, 15, 16:15.
Closed 25-DEC.
Roman Aqueduct "Formina": MAR to OCT Sat, Sun, Hol after appointment only, at least 20 days in advance.
Fee: Adults EUR 6, Children (6-14) EUR 3, Children (0-5) free, Students EUR 3.
Groups (20+): Adults EUR 5.
Roman Aqueduct "Formina": Adults EUR 20.
Classification: SubterraneaUnderground City
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Guided tours:
Address: Narni Sotterranea, Cultural Association Subterranea, Via San Bernardo 12, 05035 Narni (Terni), Tel: +39-0744-722292, Cell: +39-339-1041645. E-mail: contact
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.


1979 underground city discovered.
19-FEB-2011 San Domenico included in the tours.


Narni Sotterranea (Narni Underground) is an underground city located below the Dominican convent of Santa Maria Maggiore. It is a complex structure including a 12th century cave church with frescoes, a Roman cistern, and the Stanza dei tormenti (room of torture), a secret chamber from the era of the inquisition, where the condemned were interrogated and tormented. This use is described in old documents and the remains of the torture instrument fixations can still be seen in the wall. The victim left lots of graffities on the walls of a nearby cell, which is unique in Italy. One prisoner left secret messages in a graphic code which could not be deciphered by now. Documents, which could shed a light on the code or the identity of the prisoner, also disappeared mysteriously. The neighbouring church of Santa Maria Impensole has a basement which are actually two Roman cisterns, probably the remains of a Roman villa. The church was constructed on top of the Roman walls. The tour ends in the Medieval cistern called Lacus (lake) below Garibaldi square.

The church of San Domenico was archaeologically excavated and renovated, and in 2011 the church itself and the crypt below the auditorium with its polychrome mosaic from the sixth century were opened to the public.

Nearby are other underground structures, which can be visited after appointment only. One is the Roman Aqueduct Formina (Mould), a 13 km long water canal winding along the hillsides and crossing three hills with tunnels. This was necessary to maintain a constant slope, because the system was pressure less and the water simply flowing by gravity. It was probably built by curator aquarum Nerva in 27 AD, during the reign of Tiberius. The tour shows 700 m of the water conduit with traces of the excavation and speleothems formed by the water. The tunnel is left up an 18 m deep well on a steep staircase carved into the rock. This tour requires spare clothes and is not recommended for people suffering from claustrophobia, with heart problems, or weighing more than 100kg. The necessary equipment like helmets and headlamps is provided, reservation at least 20 days in advance is necessary, we guess because of the insurance.

This is the true Narnia, not the one from the English children books. The author C. S. Lewis was actually inspired by the Mediterranean charm of the city to his book The Chronicles of Narnia. Located at the geographical centre of Italy lies a 240 m asl high hill, which is rather easy to defend. This extraordinary location was inhabited by man since Neolithic times. Around 600 there existed a city called Nequinum by its inhabitants. In 299 BC it was conquered by the Romans and converted into a Roman colony, the city was now renamed Narnia after nearby river Nahar. Today this river flowing at the foot of the hill is named fiume Nera (Black River).