In 1979 six members of the local speleological team of UTEC of Narni, in Umbria, below the ruins of an ancient Dominican monastery, discovered a small hole, covered by dense bushes and thick grass.
The first room was an old church built in the XII-XIII century, with its frescoes covered by a thin layer of limestone.
The work of restoration started with the help of local sponsors and volunteers.
The researchers found a series of paintings by Umbrian artists of the Middle Ages, depicting a compassionate and bleeding Christ, the four symbols of the Evangelists, the coronation of Mary, and portraits of S. Michael.
Nearby the church there is a room carved into the stone; the team found an ancient Roman cistern of the first century AD, from where now it’s possible to take a virtual tour of the Formina aqueduct.
The aqueduct built by Marco Cocceio Nerva, grandfather of the future emperor of Rome is 13 miles long.
A door, originally found walled up in 1979 and reopened the same year by the six young explorers, leads in the most secret part of the monastic complex.
A long corridor leads through a large room, once occupied by the “Room of torment” named in documents found in the Vatican Archives. The office of the Holy Inquisition had its headquarters here, after the Council of Trent.
A document of a trial hold in Dublin in 1726, describes the daring escape of a Domenico Ciabocchi, considered heretical because bigamist, who took advantage of a fatal distraction of a sutler to get behind him and strangle him with a rope.
On one side of the great room, there is a small door that allows access to a prison cell.
An incredible number of arcane graffiti on the wall and the low ceiling envelops anyone who enters there.
The prisoners engraved their sufferings in the rock using white plaster and sharp shards.
Particularly interesting is the story of Giuseppe Andrea Lombardini who spent 90 days here, in 1759. He translated his messages of peace, freedom, and justice into a symbolic language, known by few, composed of masonic alchemy elements and kabbalistic graffitis.
The last area is the majestic church of Santa Maria Maggiore, today San Domenico, until the thirteenth century was the cathedral of Narni. In this building, there is a Byzantine Mosaico of the sixth century.
Pictures courtesy by Marco Santarelli
Thanks to Roberto Nini, narnisotterranea.it