We have great fun asking kids, “Did we ever tell you about the day we went to Narnia?” Their wide-eyed astonishment is usually followed by, “Ha ha, think you can fool me?” But it’s true! We visited Narnia, right here in Italy!
Narni: the real-life Italian town that inspired Narnia!
Small and quaint, even the cobblestones of this Umbrian town seem to call out, “Come and explore me!” And there’s much to see! Ancient streets and arched gateways, Roman ruins, and even an underworld!
It dates clear back to 600 BC, when known as Nequinum. Until that is, the Romans conquered it and renamed it Narnia! Which for some reason became shortened to Narni through the years.
Not well-known in Roman days, Narnia’s one great fame rested in the Ponte d’Augusto. One of the largest Roman bridges ever built, it spans the River Nera along the old Roman Via Flaminia. One arch of that ancient bridge still remains standing today, standing 30 meters tall.
Narnia and C.S. Lewis
But the town did achieve fame in modern times, after C.S. Lewis named his fictional Chronicles of Narnia for the Umbrian town. No one seems to know whether Lewis ever visited Narni. But rumor states that he chose the name from a Latin atlas. And there must have been some magic in that name – for the rest is history! The magical kingdom of Narnia, Aslan, and all the rest!
Welcome to the Land of Narnia!
Come along and see the magic…
First we’ll have tea with Mr. Tumnus…
But then, clear the streets, make way for the king.
We’re off to Cair Paravel…
For the royal coronations!
Our visit has ended. But never fear, we’ll be back!
Because once a king or queen, always a king or queen of Narnia!
And because there’s always a door back into Narnia!
But pray, may we never find Cair Paravel an abandoned ruin.
And when you return, be sure to visit Subterranean Narni!
Narni is a beautiful city and full of mystery, as seen in its ancient and mysterious underground city! The discovery of which drew international attention in the 1970’s.
Underground Narni is a fascinating labyrinth leading back in time. Aqueducts, cisterns, and vaults point to possible inhabitation. But we also see signs of great suffering from its torture chambers and graffiti on prison walls. Remnants still intact so many years after the Inquisition. Not that those make for a pleasant visit, but they do make history come alive!
And you can visit Subterranean Narni, too, without even leaving your house!
Just click here for a virtual peek! And you’ll find yourself transported back to Medieval days! (Once on the Subterranean Narni webpage, scroll to bottom to select “English”.) Or go the Chronicles of Narnia webpage to learn more about Aslan’s Narnia!
But of course the best way to see Narnia is to come and visit it for yourself! It really is like another world!
We hope to go back to Narni someday. But even if we don’t make it, we do know that we’ll one day make it to the real Narnia. Aslan’s Land of Narnia, you know. For “once a king or queen…”
How about you? Have you ever been to Italy’s Narni or to Aslan’s Narnia? Which would you like to visit?
Resource: Narni Old Town.
All Images are my own.