Do you know Civita di Bagnoregio? It is a city located in the province of Viterbo, on a hill accessible only on foot. Let’s discover the beauty of this place, also known as “the dying city”.
Civita di Bagnoregio is created from the union between two villages: the newest Bagnoregio, and Civita, the medieval hamlet, sheltered on 484 meters above sea level.
It was defined “the dying city” by writer Bonaventura Tecchi, as it is built on a tuff buttress.
The majority of its inhabitants, for security reasons, moved to near Bagnoregio, connected to Civita by a stone and cement bridge, walkable only on foot (with the exception of the residents, who can cross it with bikes and motorcycles in specific times of the day).
Civita di Bagnoregio, found approximately 2500 years ago by the Etruscans, is one of the most charming places to visit, both for its position on a cliff, which makes it look like an island in a valley, and for the beauty of its alleys and buildings.
Despite the continuous risk of disappearing forever that it has to face, Civita is a place full of life and energy.
The inhabitants, nowadays, are no more than ten, but the hamlet is populated by Italian and foreign tourists, curious visitors and history lovers.
Civita seems to be willing to fight the danger jeopardising its future, and it has been demonstrating its dedication resisting also to a few earthquakes.
To reach Civita di Bagnoregio from Rome by public transports, you need to take a train from Rome to Orvieto and then a bus to Bagnoregio.
Be aware that bus timetable are not always very accurate or convenient, so the safest choice would be to travel by car.
From Rome, it is a 90-minutes ride.
Take highway A1, north-heading, take the Orvieto exit and then follow the road indications to Bagnoregio.
From Bagnoregio, it will take you only 1,7 kilometres to reach Civita, following the road signs.
Once you reach the Belvedere square, you should park your car and walk approximately 10 minutes on foot.
A parking space is available also in Bagnoregio, but from there you will need to walk 20 minutes.
To be sure to have enough time to visit the hamlet and have lunch without having to worry about the parking ticket, consider an average of 4 hours.
The walk on the bridge that will lead you to the town is not difficult, even if the last stretch is steep and it swings a bit when it’s windy. Make sure to wear comfortable shoes!
Once you have crossed the bridge, you will forget that you are on a tuff island with crumbling foundations because the breathtaking view and the charming flare will capture you completely.
Civita di Bagnoreggio has an entering fee of 3€ during the week and 5€ on Sundays and bank holidays.
The incomes from the tickets are used by the municipality for the stabilisation works of the foundations, as the wearing away can reach 7 cm per year.
The main entrance is a massive stone door, named “Saint Mary’s door”, a passage built by Etruscans 2500 years ago and decorated in the 12th century with a Romanesque arch.
The doors includes, on the sides, two lions holding a human head with their paws, representing the people’s revolution against the Monaldeschi family until their banishment.
Passing through this door, you will literally enter into another era and you will feel thrown back in the Middle Ages.
To visit Civita, you don’t need a list of main spots or a specific itinerary: its distinctive characteristic is the possibility to discover it every step you take.
To explore this place, is a cultural treasure-hunting.
The main square is the heart of the city. It is the starting point for celebrations and religious parades, the location of the donkeys’ races taking place from June to September and, during the Christmas season, of the live nativity scene.
Following the alley at the back of the square, you will reach the ex-Cathedral of San Donato from Arezzo, a martyr of IV century.
This church was used as the Cathedral until 1699, when it was decided to move the Bishop’s seat to a safer place.
Inside, you can admire a beautiful wood ‘Donatello-style’ crucified Christ from the XV century, together with ancient roman marble containers which used to shield the remains of Saint Victoria, now moved to one of the side altars.
When you visit Civita di Bagnoregio, let your curiosity guide you.
Some of the corners will be just blind alleys, but all of them will give you pleasant surprises.
This hamlet is full of hidden gems!
One of the most idolised places in Bagnoregio is the Cave of Saint Bonaventura, an ancient Etruscan grave overhanging the valley.
The legend says that here a little child, named Giovanni di Fidanza, was healed from a mortal disease by Saint Francis, to become then Saint Bonaventura, entering the Franciscan order.
An unmissable stop-over is the Geologic and Landslides Museum, to better understand the entire foundation structure of the town and its history.
In order to admire the spectacular views, go to the Belvedere (Italian word for panoramic viewpoint) and fill your eyes with breathtaking panoramas, in daylight and at sunset.
If you love shopping, you will surely love the many small stores selling handmade articles populating the alleys.
Civita offers many restaurants and taverns to choose from, and in each one you will be able to enjoy the typical Lazio cooking.
Among the best-known restaurants there is Alma Civita, in the centre of the village.
It has an underground hall from Etruscan age and it offers traditional courses with a touch of innovation.
In case you’re looking for something simpler, you have a wide choice: L’Arco del Gusto, l’Osteria al Forno di Agnese, l’Hostaria La Cantina and Il Pozzo dei Desideri won’t disappoint you, offering you their tasty dishes and large portions.
If you are just passing through Civita di Bagnoregio, you can continue your journey by visiting the beautiful region of Umbria, and maybe sleep in Orvieto, which is only 30 minutes away by car.
Civita has no hotels, but you can choose your accommodation among several B&Bs or rooms for rent, and all of them will offer you a cosy environment to have a nice time and make good memories.
Civita di Bagnoregio needs help from all of us to stay alive, and the best way we have is to visit it, especially out of the touristic seasons or during the week.