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An article from the 1911 Encyclopaedia Britannica, now in the public domain.
Any color photos are mine, © William P. Thayer.

Vol. XIX

Norcia (anc. Nursia), a town and episcopal see of the province of Perugia, Italy, 29 m. ENE of Spoleto by road, and 30 m. W  p739 of Ascoli Piceno, 1980 ft. above sea-level, on the south-west foot-slopes of the Monti Sibillini, still surrounded by old walls. Pop. (1901) 4261 (town), 9584 (commune).​a There are a cathedral, the church of St Benedict and other churches, with Romanesque to 14th‑centuryº façades; the town-hall; and the prefecture, with Romanesque arcades. Much injury was done by earthquakes in 1730 and 1859.​b The ancient Nursia was a Sabine city, though close to the Umbrian border. Its inhabitants fought in 43‑41 B.C. against Octavian, and were punished by him for erecting a monument in honour of those who fell. It was governed by octoviri like other Sabine towns​c and became a municipium under the empire. At Ancarano near Norcia was situated a small pagus; remains of a temple were found there in 1880, which from the character of the objects seems to have been destroyed in the 5th century B.C. The tombs of the district have also produced interesting early bronzes, &c., some of which go back to the 7th century B.C., and a fine funeral couch decorated with sculptured pieces of bone. M. Guardabassi in Notizie degli scavi, 1878, 13 sqq.; 1880, 6 sqq.; A. Pasqui in Monumenti dei Lincei, I (1891) 239. The town was the birthplace of Q. Sertorius (d. 72 B.C.), of Vespasia, mother of the emperor Vespasian, of Plotina, wife of the emperor Trajan, and of St. Benedict, founder of the Benedictine order, and of his sister Scholastica. The town is famous for its pork and its cloth (the term norcineria for a pork butcher's shop is indeed used in Rome) and produces bricks and earthenware.

See F. Patrizi Forti, Memorie storiche di Norcia (Norcia, 1869).

Thayer's Notes:

a In 2000, the official census figures gave the comune of Norcia only 4900 inhabitants.

b And since the article was written, in 1979 (especially) and 1997.

c For epigraphical evidence of the octoviri, see my page on the inscription in nearby Trevi.

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Page updated: 27 Oct 12