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Situated at 410 m. on a sheer rocky spur (la Rave), this dominates the Pontine plain (Province of Latina, central Italy). The origins of the present town date from the Middle Age but its name is derived from the ancient Norba, destroyed by the Romans in 82 b.C. and never reconstructed, which stood at Civitas, approximately a kilometre away. Archaeologists are still uncertain about who founded Norba, but they know the causes of its decline; during the civil war between Marius and Silla, its inhabitants sided with the former and the town was seized and set on fire by the supporters of the latter; Norba was partially rebuilt, but its development was hampered by that event.

San Rocco church in Norma medieval town. Province of Latina, Central Italy

Of the so-called “stone town” today you can still see the impressive remains of the great polygonal walls approximately 2300 metres long, broken by gates and the Loggia bastion. The area was rich in public and private buildings, places of worship and administrational centres.

The medieval town was a feud of the Caetani family and passed to the Borghese family in the 17th century. Of interest, besides the gates, are the Palazzo Baronale, the Collegiate of the SS.Annunziata and the Sanctuary of the Madonna del Rifugio, On the south-west side of the hill are the remains of the Monastery of St. Michele Arcangelo in Monte Mirteto. The Archaeological and Virtual museum and the chocolate museum deserve a visit. Thanks to its particular position, it is a favourite haunt of hang-gliders.

Typical medieval alleys of Norma. Province of Latina, Central Italy

Norma was a fiefdom of several important families such as the Frangipane and the Caetani; it was also for a few years a possession of the Borgia, the family of Pope Alexander VI; in 1619 the town and the nearby territory were bought by Cardinal Scipione Borghese, nephew of Pope Paul V; at Montefortino, a town on the other side of the Volsci Mountains, the cardinal and his successors built gates, palaces and churches, but they did not do so at Norma, perhaps because it was too isolated and difficult to reach.

(source: visit Lazio | Comune di Norma )