Civita di Bagnoregio, the City which Dies

Time seems to have stopped here in Civita di Bagnoregio: only a footbridge connects the old town to the nearby Bagnoregio city.  Here there are no cars, you can’t hear the typical noises of a city. Think that the inhabitants are only twelve people! All around there is the great valley of the Badlands, the clayey rocks which are typical of this region: this let the landscape appear almost unreal.

Civita di Bagnoregio is called ‘the dying city‘ and it’s located on a spur of tufa rock which stands in the middle of the valley. The destiny of this small village is doomed: the slow, but inexorable erosion of the two creeks that flow downstream, the action of the atmospheric agents and the periodic occurrence of the landslides contribute to its slow decline. Civita will sooner or later completely collapse despite the efforts and the numerous works of consolidation of the territory.

The view from the lookout is really impressive, the village looks like enchanted. It seems to be standing in front of a painting! It ‘amazing to observe how the houses can still stand up on that rock. I felt a bit sad thinking of the fact that one day all this will definitely die. Yes, ‘dramatically spectacular’ is the word that contains all the emotions that you can feel while admiring Civita.

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You can enter the city via S. Maria door and after a few metres you will arrive to the main square dominated by the church of San Donato: inside there is a wooden crucifix that is said to have been the subject of a miracle in 1499. The Christ would have spoken and answered the prayers of a local woman who was asking him for help to stop the plague that hit the population.

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During my visit to Civita I didn’t have the feeling of a ‘ghost town‘ or an abandoned place. Ok, it was a public holiday but the tourists which has come to visit it were really a lot, coming from different countries: the square was crowded, the few bars and restaurants were literally under assault! Anyways, I wasn’t too disappointed by all this confusion: to find the soul of Civita you can get into a side street or overlook from one of the small balconies. Here you can always find a moment of peace and intimacy with this ancient village: the wind that arises from the valley caressing your hair, the badlands with their sinuous shape that appear on the horizon, the tiny gardens and the flower-filled balconies in every corner.

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I’ll tell you a secret: if you are looking for an unusual perspective, for a view from a privileged position where tranquility is king even during the days of greater affluence, you can go to the nearby village of Lubriano. Part of this village overlooks the valley of the badlands with a stunning view over Civita. This is really spectacular, here you can enjoy quiet and silence (in the last photo, the view from Lubriano).

Practical tips: at the entrance of the bridge you can buy a ticket including Civita and the museum entrance at the price of 3 euros (if you pay them separately, the entrance to the village is 1.50 € and the one for the museum costs 3). There are three options to eat in Civita during the most crowded days: reserve a table at the restaurant (I’m not able to say if they accept reservations, however you can try to), arm yourself with patience and wait for your turn, or bring some sandwiches with you (they are sold at 3,50 € each, quite expensive for two slices of bread and sliced salami, isn’t it?).

Where it is located? Civita di Bagnoregio is near Viterbo, Lazio. It’s not that far from Rome (2 hours by car) and it’s very close to Orvieto (Umbria).

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27 thoughts on “Civita di Bagnoregio, the City which Dies

  1. Wow! That’s an amazing town and it certainly does not look like Civita di Bagnoregio is in the throws of dying any time soon. With a population of 12 they must be doing well from all the tourists.

    • Yes Tim, it’s an incredible place! People come to work here from the nearby cities, tourism is a very important resource to keep that jewel-like village alive.

  2. How fortunate you are to visit such a spot – that is amazing. I love the pictures you took – all of them, but the ones of people walking up the bridge/path was super and the last one overlooking Civita di Bagnoregio.
    I’m not much for traveling but this is one spot I would love to visit (without the tourists).
    Lenie

  3. Greetings Ilaria,
    You’ve really captured the spirit of Civita di Bagnoregio with your spectacular photos. Lucky for you, you’re not all that from from Lago di Bolsena. I imagine you’ve captured some sweeping views there too. Perhaps an idea for a future post ;)

    Kind Regards,
    Bill

    • Thanks William! Reading your comment I gather that you’re very familiar with the region :) That day I didn’t have the chance to reach Bolsena as well, but yours it’s a very good suggestion. The lake is awesome!

      • You’re very welcome Ilaria. Actually, I have not been yet. I visited from the comfort of my armchair. I have been fortunate to see many places of the world, and I will be adding Civita di Bagnoregio and Bolsena to my list. :)

        All the best!
        Bill

        • Just like you, I’ve visited lots of places from my armchair. :) :) Needless to say that I’m a Google maps lover! I’m happy to contribute to enlarge your ‘places-to-visit’ list. Speak soon Bill!

  4. Civita di Bagnoregio seems like a lovely town to visit that would be rich in history. The remoteness of it reminded me of an ancient Pueblo, Sky City, that I visited in New Mexico.

    • Hi Christina, very interesting to know about Pueblo Sky City in New Mexico, never heard it before. I’ve seen some pictures and I saw it is located in a canyon as well. What a curious similarity!

  5. Buon Giorno Ilaria! It’s nice to meet you through the BHB Linked in group. Thanks for sharing this beautiful city (and your great photos) with us. What an interesting place! I lived in Venice for a few months and always thought it sad that they called it a dying city too. We have to appreciate these places while we still can!

    • Ciao Meredith! It’s a pleasure for me as well. Did you live in Venice? Great! It’s a fantastic city. Venice situation is less serious than Civita’s but it also has big foudation problems. Speak soon!

  6. Civita di Bagnoregia really seems enchanted and I am sad to know that this city is dying and some day will vanish.
    It is also interesting that there are no cars etc and only 12 inhabitants.
    The city seems very clam and nice with some cute healthy cats.
    I loved the pictures.

  7. Thanks for sharing your commentary and photos of this beautiful place that I never heard of. (There is also an area of my home country, the United States called the badlands, but there are no 15th century churches there!) If I list all the countries I have visited, it comes to quite a long list and I have visited Italy twice, but it is like an onion with layers and layers of interesting places to visit, so I feel that my visits barely scratch the surface—even in my own country!)

    • Thanks for your comment Suzanne. I think we will never say ‘I know all about this place’ because it’s almost impossible, even regarding our own city. It’s a continue discovery! And it’s beautiful for this reason I think :)

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