Cività di Bagnoregio “ borghi più belli d’Italia “
Cività di Bagnoregio is one of the “ b orghi più belli d’Italia “ , the most beautiful villages in Italy. This beautiful village has a special nickname, namely the dying city “la città che muore”.
It was in 2007 that I visited Cività di Bagnoregio from Bolsena for the first time. Cività di Bagnoregio is just 13,2 km away. Located high on a tuff rock Cività di Bagnoregio in the north of the Lazio region just like Bolsena.
Back to 2006
In 2006 I visited the town for the very first time. It was hardly known to the tourists and we were usually the only visitors, together with our dogs. It was a joy to show Cività to my guests. The only place to eat was the old olive oil mill where you could eat delicious bruscette with olive oil or pommedori.
Chiesa di San Donato
One of the older residents opened the door of the church of the Chiesa di San Donato early in the morning and closed it again at 6 p.m. and then returned to her home in Bagnoregio because people were no longer allowed to live in Cività. In this church, my favorite statue of Mary stood against a heavily neglected wall surrounded by burning candles. She is still there, but the restoration of the church has made her place a bit too sterile.
A friendly yet urgent invitation
I have the best memory of an almost toothless gray old lady. She sat with her flowery dress-like apron next to what looked like an ever-blooming red oleander. Hands in her apron, kindly invited us to visit her garden. The garden gave a great view over the valley and a beautiful view of the distant village of Lubriano. Depending on the season, her garden had beautiful flowers and all kinds of Mediterranean plants. What stood out especially was an enormous amount of stuff, like a kind of museum of all kinds of old collections. From agricultural tools to horse saddles and many indefinable things too.
When you wanted to leave her garden unsuspectingly with a friendly thank you, the sweet lady became an energetic appearance and she made it known in an impressive way that she expected you to give a gift for this unique garden experience. The signals started non-verbally by ringing her coins in her apron pocket. If you did not pick up this signal, you could expect quite a verbal correction. I enjoyed the spectacle and it has rapidly grown my vocabulary in terms of swear words and specific body parts in Italian.
The History of Cività di Bagnoregio
We are going back in time. It was the Etruscans who founded the village about 2500 years ago. The village was still one whole then. A major earthquake in 1695 created a rift between the neighborhoods of Cività and Bagnoregio. After the bishop left Cività at the time, the inhabitants soon followed, all but a few. Over the years more and more of the tuff crumbled and Cività became more and more isolated and was only accessible by donkeys for a long time. This is how her nickname was born, La città che muore. A bridge between Cività and Bagnoregio was built of stones in the 1920s and was destroyed 30 years later in World Ward II.
The bridge that you now cross is 366 meters long and it is quite a tough climb (especially with very hot weather, rain or wind force 5). It was restored in 1965. Despite the fact that the bridge was repaired, the inhabitants were still ordered to leave Cività by the local government at the time.
Since then, it appears that more cats than people live there now.
Imagine walking through the medieval entrance gate of Porta Santa Maria, the only remaining city gate. The gate contains 2 bas-reliefs of lions on either side holding a human head in their claws. You continue through the old town past medieval houses and even an episcopal palace and an olive mill from the 16th century. Without traffic to the village square, which still consists of sand, how special is that? You enjoy the streets and the small alleys with special vistas. The Chiesa di San Donato of which you can see the silhouette of the bell tower. You can see the bell tower from afar and it is featured on every postcard of Civita. Besides the beautiful statue of the Virgin Mary, this church has a crucifix made of wood, made by the students of the school of Donatello. This crucifix is carried around annually on Good Friday in the procession of Civita and Bagnoregio. You can also admire the beautiful narrative frescoes made by Pietro Perugino’s pupils.
The Valle dei Calanchi.
You keep walking until you walk out of town! Before your eyes you see a beautiful spectacle of nature. The Valle dei Calanchi. Subject to erosion, small earthquakes have affected the tuff and clayey subsoil. There is a beautiful area modeled over the centuries.
Here I walk with my guests on old paths, through meadows and fields with olive trees. We pass the natural cathedral and have a picnic at the pilgrimage church of St Antonio from 1500. Bought over 50 years ago by a farmer from Sardinia, after he had bought the piece of land on which the church stands
la città che muore.
What about Cività di Bagnoregio? The plateau is still crumbling! Cività di Bagnoregio did not receive many visitors until 2013, when the mayor decided to ask for an entrance fee. Against all odds, asking for an entrance worked like crazy. The mayor’s marketing stunt “When you have to pay for something, it becomes special and everyone wants to see it”. Italian television started to report on the village and a French channel soon followed. Civita came on the bucket list of many Italy lovers.
In recent years an average of no less than one million visitors came to Cività di Bagnoregio and I have really seen the downside of tourism. Coaches full of tourists who took selfies to Civita in a sigh. Whether this is good for the town and the surrounding area remains the big question, but it has led to a lot of new activity and a reduction in unemployment. There are big plans to run shuttle buses from Orvieto and Bolsena to Cività di Bagnoregio, but I think corona will throw a spanner in the works for now.
Virtual tour with Volg de Rode Schoentjes through Civita di Bagnoregio
Lazzaro Felice and the Valle dei Calanchi
Lazzaro Felice is a wonderfully moving 2018 film by Alice Rohrwacher. Lazzaro Felice takes place in the Italian countryside.
In the story of the wolf, a small fragment from the film by Lazzaro felice, the Valle dei Calanchi is featured.
Albert Heijn and Cività di Bagnoregio
Albert Heijn also discovered the charming Cività di Bagnoregio in 2014 and made an advertising spot for winter Italian products.
Would you like to visit this beautiful village with me and take a walk in its hinterland, the Valle dei Calanchi, that is possible both virtually this summer and in reality! Excursion to Cività di Bagnoregio & the Valle dei Calanchi every Friday from the end of June to the end of August. You can register via the attached link. I walk with you.