The Rocca Albornoziana, or Albornoz Fortress, dominates Narni and the Nera River gulley from above.
This imposing building was part of a system of forts the Papal State, after Avignon, built to protect the territory it had just re-conquered. Its unique position perched above the city and its construction style are a clear indication of the Papal State's intent to control the area's communication routes with Perugia, Terni and Amelia.
We suggest you stop in to enjoy the spectacular views over the vast countryside, and to visit its museums and multimedia centre.
The fortress is square, its four corners fortified by towers and a moat and second wall for even further protection. The walls and the towers, crowned with corbels, embrace a courtyard that can be accessed via two elegant gates. The courtyard is square and on it are two buildings. An elegant staircase leads to the first floor, once a noble residence. The largest of the four towers is the keep and has a side that is 20 bracci wide and four storeys tall, plus a basement.
Construction on the fort began in 1367 on top of what was once a military settlement built by Federico Barbarossa. Just four years later, in 1371, Pietro, or perhaps Giovanni, di Nevico moved in as the first castellano. Work was completed in 1378. Several architects worked on the project, and historians presume that Ugolino I di Montemarte and Matteo Gattapone, who worked on several buildings being built by Cardinal Albornoz, were among them.
Between 1370 and 1449 the fortress was home to popes, cardinals and generals, its fate linked closely to theirs. In 1449 the plague forced Niccolò V to move in and he embarked a series of projects to enlarge its defensive structures. These projects were continued under Pope Sisto IV and then Innocence VIII until the end of the XV century.
The fortress resisted numerous assaults and was governed by a long series of castellani until 1798 when, after Rome declared itself a Republic and Pius VI fled, French troops stripped the fortress of its weapons and took away its canons.
In the XIX century it was used as a prison and in 1906 it was bought for pittance by the Russian prince Mestschezsy. In 1972 it was purchased by a Roman family and is now owned by the City of Narni and the Province of Terni.
Cardinal Egidio De Albornoz (Cuenca, 1299 - Viterbo 1367), papal legate and vicar, worked to strengthen the power of the Church all over the papal state. He had castles and forts built everywhere he could - often designing them himself - to serve as a symbol of the power of the Church.
You can walk up Via del Monte to the complex, or drive up over the Flaminia towards Rome and then turn left.