Civita di Bagnoregio is a suburb of the town of Bagnoregio itself. It sits on a high rock between two valleys and can only be reached by a footbridge. It is nicknamed the “Dying City” because of the erosion eating away at the rock on which it is built.
Civita di Bagnoregio
There are buses from Bagnoregio (stop: Piazza S. Agostino – Loc. Mercatello) itself to Civita di Bagnoregio (stop: Loc. Mercatello – Piazzale Battaglini). Tickets can be purchased on the bus. From both Viterbo and Orvieto there are, although not very frequent, Cotral bus connections to Bagnoregio.
History and Description
There used to be a path connecting the two settlements, and one can still see pictures of this everywhere in Civita di Bagnoregio. So when one wants to bring something into the city it must fit on the back of a scooter.
The main gateway to the city is a passageway carved out 2500 years ago by the Etruscans. The enormous arch over this passageway was built in the 12th century.
The narrow streets of Civita di Bagnoregio are paved with cobblestones and the whole town seems built to fit on a postcard. Arches are overgrown with hanging plants and potted plants adorn staircases everywhere.
The key, however, is to be careful: Because of erosion, the rock on which the town is built becomes narrower and narrower, and of some houses only the facade is left.
Underneath the houses of Civita di Bagnoregio there are cellars and containers to collect rainwater, some of which date back to Etruscan times. Old tunnels were used as air-raid shelters during the Second World War.
In today’s Civita di Bagnoregio, not many of the original inhabitants remain. Most of the houses were bought by wealthy people and the former inhabitants moved to Bagnoregio itself.
What to see in Civita di Bagnoregio
In the center of the city stands the San Bonaventura Church, dedicated to this Franciscan saint born here. Previously, a Roman sanctuary stood here and even further in the past there was an Etruscan temple. The tall pillars outside the church date back to those times.
Palio della Tonna
Twice a year, on the first Sunday in June and the second one in September, the Palio della Tonna is held in the central square of Civitella. This is a race between two or three donkeys (for centuries the only means of transport if one did not want to walk to town) and takes place on the occasion of the Festival of the Madonna. The donkeys represent the different contrade of the city. In order to keep the tradition alive, it was decided to breed this indigenous species of donkey on a kind of city farm.