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Panorama of Civita di Bagnoregio.
Civita di Bagnoregio.
Civita di bagnoregio.jpg

Civita di Bagnoregio is a town in the Province of Viterbo in Central Italy, a frazione of the comune of Bagnoregio, 2 km (about 1 mile) W from it. It is about 145 km (90 mi) north of Rome.

It was founded by Etruscans over twenty-five hundred years ago, but has seen its population dwindle to just fifteen residents over the course of the 20th century. Cività was the birthplace of Saint Bonaventure, born in 1274. The location of his boyhood house has long since fallen off the edge of the cliff. By the 16th century Civita was beginning to decline, becoming eclipsed by its former suburb Bagnoregio.

At the end of the 17th century, the bishop and the municipal government was forced to move to Bagnoregio due to a major earthquake, accelerating the old town's decline. At that time the area was part of the Papal States. In the 19th century Civita's location was turning into an island and the pace of the erosion quickened as the layer of clay below the stone was reached in the area where today's bridge is located. Bagnoregio continues as a small but prosperous town, while Civita became known as il paese che muore (in Italian: "the dying town"). Civita has only recently been experiencing a tourist revival.

The town is noted for its striking position atop a plateau of friable volcanic tuff overlooking the Tiber river valley, in constant danger of destruction as its edges fall off, leaving the buildings built on the plateau to crumble. As of 2004, there are plans to reinforce the plateau with steel rods to prevent further geological damage. The city is also much admired for its architecture, some spanning several thousand years. Civita di Bagnoregio owes much of its unaltered condition to its relative isolation: the town was able to withstand most intrusions of modernity as well as the destruction brought by two world wars. The population today varies from about 12 people in winter to over 100 in the summer.

The town was placed on the World Monuments Fund's 2006 Watch List of the 100 Most Endangered Sites, due to the threats it faces from erosion and unregulated tourism.

External links

Coordinates: 42°38′N 12°06′E / 42.633°N 12.1°E / 42.633; 12.1

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Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Europe : Italy : Central Italy : Lazio : Civita di Bagnoregio

Civita di Bagnoregio (pronounced Banyoregio) is a small Italian hill town in the province of Viterbo, region of Lazio, in central Italy.

Understand

Civita di Bagnoregio is actually two remote towns. Civita is on a hill accessible only by a long stone walkway that begins at the end of the road from neighboring Bagnoregio. Once, Civita was the larger community and Bagnoregio the satellite. Today, Civita has only about 14 year-round residents, so few that Civita is nicknamed "the Dead City." Many of the buildings in Civita are being purchased by rich Italians who come here for vacation. However the town suffers constant erosion of its volcanic rock into the valley below.

Bagnoregio and the walkway to reach it
Bagnoregio and the walkway to reach it

Civita is a charming medieval city, almost utterly untouched by the Renaissance. (The facade of the church was remodeled during the Renaissance, but the city is otherwise entirely medieval.) Despite its nickname, during the tourist season, Civita bustles with day trippers.

The long bridge into Civita is steep -- and it gets steeper as it rises. This is a challenging climb for anyone not in particularly good shape.

Get in

By Bus To get to Civita, you will need first to get to Bagnoregio. There is a bus from Orvieto; the trip takes about an hour and costs €3.20 round trip. Blue cortal buses leave Orvieto's Piazza Cahen, then stop at the train station, daily except Sunday at 6:15 and at 12:45, 3:45, and 6:20 p.m. During the school year from September to June, there are additional departures at 7:20 and 7:50 a.m. and at 1:55 p.m. Buy tickets at the train station bar.

By Car The simplest way to get to Bagnoregio from Orvieto is to get on the autostrada and follow the signs to Lubriano and Bagnoregio. A more scenic route takes 20 minutes longer. From the freeway, pass under hill-capping Orvieto, with signs to Lago di Bolsena and Viale I Maggio on your right, and take the first left to Bagnoregio, winding through Canale and great Orvieto views.

Once you get into Bagnoregio, you can park either at the bus lot at the edge of town or at the base of the stone walkway. (Follow the yellow signs to Civita to reach the parking lot.) There is a parking charge of €1 an hour, which you can pay at the shop or the restaurant. Parking may be free on weekdays or off season when there's no attendant.

Alternately, you can walk from Bagnoregio to the Civita bridge (it takes about 20 minutes) or take a €1 yellow minibus (pay the driver) from the gas station to the base of the walkway. You can ascend to Civita only on foot, but taking the bus from Bagnoregio will cut your walking distance in half. One or two buses leave each hour, starting at 7:38 a.m. Monday to Saturday and 8:53 a.m. Sunday. The last bus leaves at 6:24 p.m.

  • Romanesque Arch At the entrance to Civita, this arch was cut by the Etruscans 2,500 years ago.
  • Renaissance Palace remains All that remains of an old palace is the facade, the rest collapsed into the canyon from erosion of the hill Civita sits on.
  • Piazza The town's only public phone is at the piazza, the site of donkey races on the first Sunday in June and the second Sunday of September. The columns are Etruscan. In the evening, the piazza is the place to be, as what's left of the town socializes there.
  • Church On the piazza, this church is on the site of an Etruscan temple, and after that a Roman temple. It has a fine campanile (bell tower), altar, and crucifix.
  • Maria's Garden Follow the main road to the far side of town to see a lovely garden with knockout canyon views. If the garden is open, Maria will greet you in a small piazza and urge you to see it. She shows the garden to visitors for pocket change; give her a euro or two.
  • Etruscan Caves A series of caves at the east end of town, one of which was made into a chapel, called the Chapel of the Incarcerated.
  • In Bagnoregio, market day is on Monday in the gas station parking lot.

Eat

Bagnoregio

  • A Despar Supermarket is 300 yards from the bus stop. To get there, go back down the main street you came on in your bus from Orvieto, turn left at the Bar/Enoteca Cinema Alberto Sordi, bear right at the fork and then turn right again at the pyramid monument. The supermarket is closed Sunday and open Monday through Saturday 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 4 to 8 p.m.
  • Il Fumatore di Pizzo Ornelio Open Friday through Wednesday 12:30 to 3 p.m. and 7 to 10 p.m., closed Thursday, on Piazza Marconi. Telephone: 0761-792-642

Civita

  • Trattorio Antico Forno serves cheap pasta. Open daily 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. and sporadically for dinner 7:30 to 10 p.m. Also rents rooms; see Civita B&B under Sleep. Telephone: 0761-760-016
  • Osteria Boccadoro Covered patio off main square. Open daily 12:30 to 5 p.m. and 7 to 11 p.m. Telephone: 0761-780-775
  • Pina's Pizzeria Pizza and sweets to eat there or to go. Open daily noon to 10 p.m., near town entry.
  • Hostaria del Ponte Great view from rooftop terrace at bottom of stone walkway into town. €6.50 pastas, reservations smart. Open Tuesday through Sunday 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. and 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. Closed Monday; November through April closed Sunday. Telephone 0761-793-565

Sleep

Civita

  • Civita B&B Run by Franco Sala, who also owns the Trattoria Antico Forno and Civita's only dog, the Civita B&B has three simple rooms overlooking the main square. Double €62, double with bathroom €68, triple €78. Includes continental breakfast. Telephone: 0761-760-016

Bagnoregio

  • Romantica Pucci B&B Pucci and Lamberto have five romantically decorated rooms. The rate includes breakfast and parking. There is an attached restaurant on Piazza Cavour. Double €80.
  • Hotel Fidanza 25 rooms, Nos. 206 and 207 have Civita views. Call to let them know your arrival time to make sure there is someone at the reception desk. Single with bathroom €50, double with bathroom €74. Cash only; rate includes breakfast. There is an attached restaurant. Telephone and fax: 0761-793-444

Get out

There are many other hill towns in the area, including Orvieto, Pienza, Montalcino, and Montepulciano. From Orvieto, both Florence and Rome are short train rides away.

The bus service between Bagnoregio to Orvieto costs €3.20 for the one-hour roundtrip. From Bagnoregio, there are six departures daily except Sunday at 5:30, 9:55, and 10:10 a.m. and at 1, 2:25, and 5:25 p.m. During the school year from September to June there are also departures at 6:35 and 6:50 a.m. and at 1:35 and 4:40 p.m.

This is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!

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