zaterdag 25 januari 2014

Narni underground

This time in march I finally got the opportunity to do something that had been on my wishlist for years: visit Narni Underground.

It is, of course, always some kind of an adventure to descend below the earth and see what lies beneath. I mean, who has not dreamed about discovering lost caves and hidden treasures?
But Narni Sotterranea – the Italian name – attracted me in particular for I had been reading about its history before an therefor already knew that the area has been well kept and the research had been thorough. It promised to become a very interesting visit.

It did. As soon as I met our guide, Aroti Meloni, in personal, I could tell she was enthousiastic and passionate about the ins and outs of these underground spaces and obviously well experienced.

Narni Underground reveals the remains of an original monastery, the San Domenico, that became destroyed in World War II, forgotten and overgrown with vegetation after that, until in 1978, a group of young speleologists – they were all minors – discovered the entrance, with some help of an old man who had a vegetable garden on that spot.
(c) Narni Sotterranea - all rights reserved

In 1994 it was possible to make the areas accessible to the public. The first room reveals a former church from the 12th century, decorated with beautiful religious fresco´s. It´s original name, as discoverd in a document, was Sant´Angelo, after the Archangel Michael, whose image is shown in a fresco at the left.

(c) Narni Sotterranea
The second area contains an ancient cistern in good state, used to collect the rainwater. Two instruments exposed in the room show us how, in the Roman epoque, land distances and differences in earth level were measured in order to construct linear roads and aquaducts. The aquaduct Formina di Narni, with a length of 13. km, was built this way.

After these two rooms the history became more obscure. The next room possessed a collection of torture instruments that were used by the Inquisition. Documents that were accidentally found at Trinity College in Dublin and further research in the Vatican archives confirm that the room had indeed been used by the Inquisition. One of the documents found was the complete report of the trial of Domenico Ciabbocchi, a man from Todi who was condemned for bigamy (learn more about this story here).
(c) Narni Sotterranea - all rights reserved

The last room had been the prison. Its walls and ceiling represent the interesting but sad story of a prisoner locked up there for months, biding his time by scratching insciptions in the walls. He created different colours by mixing stone powder with urine. The poor prisoner used many symbols, like the numbers 4, 3 and 7 respectively to signify the Earth, a triangle to indicate Elevation and the last to describe God. Other frequent symbols are pigeons, representing Peace but yet held captive a by a thin wire tied to a tree.
(c) Narni Sotteranea

And.. there´s a row of numbers, 7-24-42-70. There are theories about the meaning of them, but not one is proven certain. May you can solve this mystery?

It may be obvious that all my great expectations came true with this visit. I strongly recommend you to go and see for yourself, for there is a lot more to experience and relive at Narni Underground.. (and I haven´t even told you about Narni-Above-Ground) .

Narni Underground is accessable the whole year around. For schedules, bookings, routedescription and more information:

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