Fairytale Come to Life
The Civita di Bagnoregio in northern Lazio is a fairytale come to life and a perfect day trip to escape from the chaos of Rome. Perched atop a hill in an expansive valley, the little Civita is picture-perfect: alleyways lined with cobblestone streets, medieval stone houses decked with flower pots and spectacular views of the valley below. The town, which was inhabited by the Etruscans 2500 years ago, has been nicknamed il paese che muore – ‘the dying city’ – because it is gradually losing habitable area due to erosion and landslides. It famously has less than 15 year-round residents, though on a warm Sunday in April the Civita was anything but sleepy. The town was bustling with day trippers of all ages enjoying a leisurely Sunday pranzo in the many picturesque alleyways. It is the perfect place to soak in small-town charm and experience Italy’s tradition of il dolce far niente, the sweetness of doing nothing.
To enter the town you have to cross a footbridge which connects the Civita to the proper city of Bagnoregio. The town is strictly pedestrian and initial climb is a bit steep but it’s not too much of a hike – bring a sweater in off-season because the bridge is windy! In the main piazza is a lovely rustic church built upon remains of an Etruscan, and subsequently Roman, temple. At the edge of the town are Etruscan caves, one of which has been turned into a chapel. A €3 entry fee has recently been introduced to maintain the town for future visitors, a small price to pay for this hidden gem!
The easiest way to arrive to the Civita is by car but you can take a train from Rome to Orvieto and then a bus from Orvieto to Bagnoregio. Bus times are listed here: www.cotralspa.it/PDF_Orari_Comune/Orvieto.pdf
Try typical dishes at the Osteria al Forno di Agnese, a charming restaurant with indoor and outdoor seating. Call to reserve, especially on the weekends.
Address: Via S. Maria Del Cassero 38
Alma Civita is a comfortable b&b in a restored house within the ancient town.
Address: Via della Provvidenza 1