Norcia (Italian pronunciation: [ˈnɔrtʃa]), traditionally known
in English by its
Latin name of Nursia /ˈnɜːrsiə/, is a town and
comune in the province of
Perugia (Italy) in southeastern Umbria.
Unlike many ancient towns, it is located in a wide plain abutting the
Monti Sibillini, a subrange of the
Apennines with some of its highest
peaks, near the Sordo River, a small stream that eventually flows into
the Nera. The town is popularly associated with the Valnerina (the
valley of that river).
The area is known for its air and scenery, and is a base for
mountaineering and hiking. It is also widely known for hunting,
especially of the wild boar, and for sausages and ham made from wild
boar and pork. Such products have been named after Norcia; in Italian,
they are called norcineria.
2 Main sights
4 See also
6 External links
Traces of human settlement in Norcia's area date back to the Neolithic
The town's known history begins with settlement by the
Sabines in the
5th century BC. It became an ally of ancient Rome in 205 BC, during
the Second Punic War, when it was known in
Latin as Nursia, but the
earliest extant Roman ruins date from around the 1st century.
St. Benedict, the founder of the
Benedictine monastic system, and his
twin sister St. Scholastica, were born here in 480. In the 8th
century, an oratory was built so pilgrims could pray at St.
Benedict’s birthplace. Monks came to
Norcia in the 10th century.
Contemporary monks care for the Monastery of St. Benedict, built over
the Roman ruins of the house of Sts. Benedict and Scholastica.
In the 6th century
Norcia was conquered by the Lombards, becoming part
of the Duchy of Spoleto. In the 9th century it suffered from Saracen
attacks, which started a period of deep decadence. In the 11th
century, it was part of the domain of St. Henry, Holy Roman Emperor.
In the 12th century
Norcia became an independent commune within the
Papal territories, with an increasing political and economical
prestige. The collaboration with the
Benedictine abbey in
Preci led to
the creation of the Schola Chirurgica. Studies at this institution
Norcia residents improving their swine breeding. The
Spoleto and the 1324 earthquake thwarted the city's
ambitions, and in 1354 it was returned definitively to the Papal
On 24 August 2016, a magnitude 6.2 earthquake and numerous strong
aftershocks struck near Norcia, causing major damage to the towns in
the region. The people in the town of
Norcia were not injured. The
Norcia itself only suffered structural damage but this
displaced many citizens. However, several small towns around the town
received heavy damage and many collapsed buildings.
On 30 October 2016, another magnitude 6.5 earthquake rocked Norcia,
causing heavy damage to the city: among others the Basilica of St.
Benedict has been destroyed.
The older core of
Norcia is almost flat, which is relatively unusual
among the towns of Umbria. It is completely enclosed by a full circuit
of walls that has survived intact from the 14th century. They stood up
despite many earthquakes, of which several were devastating (1763,
1859, 1979). After the earthquake of 22 August 1859, the Papal States,
Norcia then belonged, imposed a stringent construction code
forbidding structures of more than three storeys and requiring the use
of certain materials and building techniques.
Roman vestiges are observable throughout the city, especially in the
walls of San Lorenzo, its oldest extant church. On via Umberto is a
small aedicule or corner chapel, sometimes called a tempietto, with
faded frescoes, painted by Vanni della Tuccia in 1354. Of greater
interest are the two Romanesque arches, densely sculpted with
zoomorphic, human, and geometric forms.
The main basilica is dedicated to
St. Benedict and is connected to a
Benedictine monastery, the Monastery of St. Benedict.
Though this edifice was built in the 13th century, it stood on the
remains of one or more small Roman buildings, sometimes considered to
have been a Roman basilica, or alternately the house in which the twin
saints were born. The façade, in Gothic style, is characterized by a
central rose window and relief portraying the four Evangelists.
Inside, the fresco of the Resurrection of Lazarus (1560) was painted
by Michelangelo Carducci. The altar in the left-hand transept housed a
St Benedict and Totila (1621) by Filippo Napoletano. The basilica was
destroyed by an earthquake on 30 October 2016.
The Renaissance church of Santa Maria Argentea is the Duomo or
cathedral. It holds some works by Flemish masters, a richly decorated
altar by Duquesnoy, a Madonna and Saints by Pomarancio, and a St
Vicent Ferrer and the Sick (1756) by Giuseppe Paladini.
The Gothic church of Sant'Agostino (14th century) has many votive
frescoes of St Roch and St Sebastian. San Francesco, from the same
century has a notable portal, surmounted by a Gothic rose window, with
pink and white stone decorations.
A fortress, the Castellina was built in 1555-1563 as the residence of
the Papal governors, as designed by Giacomo Barozzi da Vignola. It now
houses a small museum with Roman and medieval artifacts, and documents
of the Middle Ages and later periods.
In the frazioni near the town proper, are
The pieve of San Salvatore, at Campi, with two rose windows and two
portals of different ages. Also in Campi is the parish church of St.
Andrew, with an original triangular loggiato. The Church of San
Salvatore and that of Sant'Andrea were damaged or destroyed in the
The frazione of Savelli has the ruins of Madonna della Neve, an
elegant octagonal church designed by
Bramante in the 15th century. It
was destroyed by the 1979 earthquake.
In San Pellegrino is the convent of Santa Maria di Montesanto (14th
century), now in poor condition. It has a noteworthy cloister and a
church with 17th-century canvasses and a 14th-century wooden statue,
Madonna with Child.
On 30 October 2016, a 6.6 magnitude earthquake with an epicenter near
Norcia destroyed the basilica of
St. Benedict Church as well as the
town's cathedral, with only the facade remaining.
Agriano, Aliena, Ancarano, Biselli, Campi, Casali di Serravalle, Case
sparse, Castelluccio, Cortigno, Forca Canapine, Forsivo, Frascaro,
Legogne, Monte-Cappelletta, Nottoria, Ocricchio, Ospedaletto, Pescia,
Pie' la rocca, Piediripa, Popoli, San Marco, San Pellegrino,
Sant'Andrea, Savelli, Serravalle, Valcaldara.
Serravalle (also known as Serravalle di Norcia) lies on the Sordo
River a few hundred meters upstream from its confluence with the
New Norcia, in Western Australia
1703 Apennine earthquakes
^ Casalini, Simona (30 October 2016). "Terremoto in Centro Italia".
Repubblica (in Italian). Retrieved 30 October 2016.
Norcia net with photos of the aedicule.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Norcia.
Official website (in Italian)
Monastery of St. Benedict
Norcia (in Italian)
Storia e informazioni su
Norcia (in Italian)
Norcia.Net Town's tourist site (in Italian)
UmbriaTurismo (in Italian)
Norcia - Bella Umbria
Bill Thayer's site
Umbria · Comuni of the Province of Perugia
Campello sul Clitunno
Castiglione del Lago
Cerreto di Spoleto
Città della Pieve
Città di Castello
Fossato di Vico
Monte Castello di Vibio
Monte Santa Maria Tiberina
Monteleone di Spoleto
Passignano sul Trasimeno
Sant'Anatolia di Narco
Scheggia e Pascelupo
Tuoro sul Trasimeno