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Between Norba and Norma: when a letter changes the history

The first, older, being from Roman times, is Norba, and Norma, on the other hand, is its historical continuation a few kilometers but many centuries away. We are in the Lepini Mountains, overlooking the Pontine plain in southern Lazio, particularly popular with paragliders.

Norba Latina, to distinguish it from Norba Apula, with the Latin League fought against Rome (501 – 496 BC) at the Battle of Lake Regillo.

Outside the most popular tourist destinations, the two locations bear witness to a history of millennia

A historic place, never identified certainly, where Rome’s extraordinary victories against neighboring peoples began. Norba was occupied by Roman settlers and its mighty walls served as a defense for all the surrounding territory that became Roman.

Decay began from the self-initiated fire during the war between Marius and Silla (88-82 B.C.) so as not to fall into the hands of the enemy (Silla).

In the Middle Ages some surviving structures became churches that Pope Zacharias gave to Emperor Constantine Copronymus. From an alley in old Norba the new city of Norma seems to have originated.

Our visit then begins in the archaeological area that preserves the almost three-thousand-year-old ancient remains. Archaeological excavations testify to the link of origins with Alba Longa great enemy of Rome.

Today Norma is a quaint Latium town of ancient and evocative traditions

Archaeological remains indicate a large population living in Norba and Norma, in contrast, has little more than three thousand six hundred inhabitants. The province is that of Latina, the location is on the steep rock from which one can admire the Oasis of Ninfa and vast part of the Agro pontino. The very few survivors of Norba moved here, building over the centuries the settlement of Norma. The founding nucleus was located right at the most defensible point, the cliff called “rave.”

In the Middle Ages it was probably dependent on the nearby Abbey of Valvisciolo or the Caetani Castle of Sermoneta, becoming a marquisate under the Borghese. Singular that the three main places of religious interest are all inspired by the mother of Christ. Indeed, we speak of the Church of the Annunziata, the Sanctuary of the Madonna del Rifugio, and the Monastery of Santa Maria di Monte Mirteto.

But visiting Norma means appreciating its archaeological museum, seeing the splendid Giardini di Ninfa, and “tasting” the tasty Chocolate Museum.

Why do these villages exert a strong appeal for those who like to reflect?

Local mirabilia aside, it is often the case that in these small towns wandering aimlessly helps to experience the spirit of the place. Walking slowly past the doors of houses, climbing the stone steps, observing the architecture of the centuries-old buildings.

There is something fascinating that attracts; it would seem that all villages are the same or almost the same, but that is not the case. The air one breathes perhaps always has a background of the countryside, of tilled earth, of clean unpolluted dust. 

A smell, everywhere different, that stirs memory, memories of decades ago. Then the country is a return, even for those who visit it the first time.

The strongest sense of the five, smell, is then supported by taste in appreciating the local table, the seal of the trip. Norma is renowned for ramiccia, hand-cut egg pasta, and for strozzapreti water and flour. Then for green olives, oil, chestnuts, mushrooms. Perhaps the same foods that nourished ancient Norba.

With the Blog of Rome and Latium Region, Around Rome guides you to discover the territories for the pleasure of satisfying curiosity and putting culture at the service of people and businesses.

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Edited by il NETWORK text by Andrea Franchini | photo by Ezio Bocci

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