Tuesday, 2 December 2014

The Lovely Hilltop Town of Civita di Bagnoregio

The lovely Civita di Bagnoregio is a small Italian hill town in the province of Viterbo, in central Italy. The town is located atop a highpoint rising high above a vast canyon that is unceasingly being eroded by two streams flowing in the valleys below and by the action of rain and wind. This beautiful 2,500-years-old town is under constant threat of devastation as its edges are falling off, leaving the buildings built on the plateau to crumble.

Civita di Bagnoregio is actually two towns. Civita is on a hill reachable only by a long stone walkway that begins at the end of the road from neighboring town Bagnoregio. Once, Civita was the larger community and Bagnoregio the satellite town. Nowadays, Civita has only around 6 year-round residents determined to keep this little fragment of rock alive.

Civita di Bagnoregio was bringing into being by the Etruscans about 2,500 years ago. At that time, it was a vital city for its position along an ancient road interlinked to a dense network of trade routes. Civita’s decay started in the 16th century triggered by a dreadful earthquake which, affecting serious damages to the roads and buildings compelled plentiful inhabitants to leave the city. The constant seismic activities that followed in the course of the centuries brought a continue series of landslides. By the end of the 17th century, the bishop and the municipal government were enforced to move to Bagnoregio, and by the 19th century, Civita was turning into a lovely an island. Bagnoregio continues as a small but flourishing town, while Civita became recognized in Italian as il paese che muore ("the town that is dying"). It’s only recently that Civita began experiencing a tourist revival.

Civita is an attractive medieval town with architecture spanning several hundred years. The town’s isolation has allowed it to withstand most disturbances of modernity as well as the destruction brought by two world wars. Notwithstanding its nickname, during the tourist season, Civita bustles with day trippers.