Known as the “Dying City” (la città che muore) Civita di Bagnoregio is a testament of nature vs. man, as the land surrounding the charming borgo slowly erodes, risking total and inevitable destruction. Founded by the Etruscans over 2,500 years ago, Civita di Bagnoregio has seen a resurgence of tourism since it received worldwide attention for it’s unique position and inevitable fate. The town is home to just a handful of residents in the winter months and surges to over a hundred in the summer.
Like many of the small, charming towns of Italy (like the Cinque Terre in the Liguria Region), unregulated tourism risks further damage to the already fragile town. A new entrance fee (€3 Monday – Friday, €5 Saturday and Sunday) serves to fund urgent maintenance and intervention in the town to slow further erosion.
The easiest way to reach Civita di Bagnoregio is by car. The town is about 125km from the center of Rome, so it’s about a 2hr drive each way. There is plenty of metered and free parking before the bridge that takes you to the city gates, so parking at Civita di Bagnoregio is simple enough.
Once you’ve parked you’ll need to take the pedestrian bridge to the city gate. It’s the only way to access the town.
*Bring a few euros in change to pay for the parking meter which may not accept bills or card. Once you’ve paid, place the printed receipt in the windshield. Also be sure to take everything with you from the car or place any bags in the trunk where they are not visible.
Alternatively you can take the train to either Viterbo or Orvieto and take a COTRAL bus to Bagnoregio. Of course this route takes considerably longer so a day trip is more difficult.
The greatest spectacle of the city is the city itself. Either the vistas of the surrounding landscape that you can admire from every angle while in the city, or the view of the plateau from the bridge that leads you to the city gates. Like something out of a scifi movie or fairytale, Civita di Bagnoregio is a national treasure whose fate of extinction makes it even more alluring.
There is a small geological museum that explains the technical structure of the tuffa plateau and the erosion process. But for the most part, the beauty of the town is exploring every inch of the narrow streets, the piazzas and bucolic life that seems frozen in time. Peak in the churches, take a seat on a bench and watch the locals, cats, and visitors filter through the town.
As you can imagine, there are only a few restaurants in the entire town. The best way to choose is just wander and take a seat where you feel most comfortable. The cuisine is typical for Lazio: pastas, charcuterie and cheese. As soon as you arrive, on your way out or if you’re looking for a bathroom after the drive, check out this bar at the base of the bridge that leads to the city gate.
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