Civita di Bagnoregio

Civita di Bagnoregio is located in Tuscia on the border between Tuscany and Lazio. About a decade ago, no one had heard of this town. It had exactly 11 residents. Why? Well, for starters, Civita di Bagnoregio is crumbling bit by bit into the valley below.

Ok, lets backtrack. The main entrance is a huge stone passageway, cut by the Etruscans 2,500 years ago when Bagnoregio was Bagnorea. The name probably derives from Balneum Regis, referring to the presence of thermal waters with particular therapeutic properties. The town flourished through the Middle Ages and the Renaissance until disaster struck. On 10 June 1695 an earthquake hit Civita, separating it (with the formation of a spectacular cliff) from the other two districts of Mercato (today Mercatello) and Rota.

That earthquake signalled the beginning of a mass exodus from Civita di Bagnoregio. The town was never the same and in the centuries that followed more and more pieces of the cliff eroded away, taking any buildings with them into the abyss.

The precarious setting earned Civita the nickname “The Dying City” or “The City in the Sky”.

Fast forward to today and Civita di Bagnoregio is now one of Tuscia’s and Central Italy’s most popular tourist attractions as thousands of visitors flock to see what’s left of the town.

With so few inhabitants and neither the means nor the desire to modernise, Civita di Bagnoregio has remained preserved in its medieval cloak. The city’s most famous native was the 13th Century philosopher and saint Bonaventure. It is a study in close observation. A gorgeous day trip into what Italy looked like before the tourist attractions and postwar palazzos. A lovely taste of rural life and the hardy and hard working locals who are left holding up the fort.

A couple of years ago, Civita di Bagnoregio decided to charge visitors a small entrance few – €5 on the weekend, €3 on weekdays – to visit the town. The money goes towards preserving the remaining buildings and holding back the tides of erosion.

Civita di Bagnoregio will inevitably disappear when the final pieces crumble into the spectacular Valle dei Calanchi below. Knowing this and knowing that nothing can be done to prevent it makes your visit all the more special and… macabre.

But the town is hardly dead no matter what its nickname suggests. Instead it is a bustling mess of visitors and locals, gossiping nonni and the rare child or two. Its social calendar is filled with fascinating traditional festivals and there are plenty of great restaurants where you can sit and soak up the splendour around you. The views of the valley are breathtaking, but so are the tiny streets and flower-filled piazzas. It’s also been officially declared a “Borgho più bello d’Italia” (One of Italy’s most Beautiful Towns).

An important note, Civita di Bagnoregio can only be reached on foot. Supplies are mopeded in, while the rest of us must walk the rather long and tiring footbridge that connects the town to the parking lot back on the ‘mainland’.

What to see in Civita di Bagnoregio

Despite its nickname, during the tourist season, Civita bustles with day trippers. Most visitors come to Civita di Bagnoregio for its incredible views of the surrounding valley and its beautifully preserved buildings. The town doesn’t have breathtaking tourist guidebook monuments that you can tick off your bucket list. This is just Italy. a quiet little village town still stuck in the Middle Ages. A piece of history without the hangups of modernity or the invasion of souvenir shops and tacky tourist menus.

A visit to the Civita di Bagnoregio is like a treasure hunt. Blink and you’ll miss the Renaissance portals and ivy draped courtyards. Decide not to sit in the piazza and watch the locals and you’ll miss the chance to experience the town in all its complexities and beauty. That said, there are a few gems that can’t be missed. These are our favourites:

book your hotel

We organize customized guided tours of the village of Civita di Bagnoregio. A local guide will accompany you on a walk inside the walls, showing you all the most evocative corners of the village and telling you all the local legends. The visit will end with lunch at a traditional Tuscia restaurant. On request, we can also organise transport to and from your hotel.

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where to eat in civita di bagnoregio

After a walk through history, there is nothing better than a bite to eat and a taste of the traditional dishes of Alta Tuscia Viterbese! There are quite a few restaurants in town, some hidden in picturesque valleys, others with panoramic view of the valley and the old buildings of Civita di Bagnoregio. Here is a list of some of our favourite restaurants in town:

Visit civita di bagnoregio

You need to buy a ticket to visit Civita di Bagnoregio. Tickets are available at the infopoint just outside the parking lot. From there, you must walk along along bridge over the gorgeous Valle dei Calanchi and into town. It’s pedestrian access only. You can’t drive into Civita di Bagnoregio.

Infopoint Civita di Bagnoregio
Località Mercatello Bagnoregio (VT)

+39 3248660940

promotuscia.bagnoregio@yahoo.it

Opening hours

From January to December
Every day

From 8am to 8pm

Entry ticket

€3 weekdays
€5 weekends and public holidays

Civita di Bagnoregio

Photos of civita di bagnoregio

events in civita di bagnoregio

PALIO DELLA TONNA

Palio della tonna

An ancient event linked to the rural and agricultural tradition of the territory, the Palio della Tonna remains one one of the town’s most anticipated events. It takes place on the first Sunday of June and on the second Sunday of September! The jockeys ride donkeys through the main square, making three rounds in a circle and then head off for another series of races. The best two jockeys qualify for the final and the winner is awarded the Palio painting.

Civita di Bagnoregio

Civit'arte

Exhibition of art, music and culture in the summer of Civita di Bagnoregio, organized by the municipality of Bagnoregio, with the patronage of the Lazio Regional Giovernment, the Province of Viterbo, the Minister of Youth and Civita. A series of events dedicated to music, theatre and culture, it’s held between the months of July and August. There are plenty of famous faces, theatrical performances, concerts and much more. A great pick if you want to see grassroots art in Tuscany.

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Festa della castagna

One of the town’s oldest festivals, dedicated to the chestnut, a local export of the territory of Civita di Bagnoregio. In the past, chestnuts were much more than just a nut, but the lifeblood of the area, so it makes sense that they are still celebrated with a big party! During the festival, you can enjoy roasted chestnuts, craft markets and small shows and concerts, as well as the beauty of the town of Civita di Bagnoregio in autumn. The festival is held in October each year.

presepe vivente

Presepe vivente

Words are not enough to describe the magic and charm of this event that makes the city of Civita di Bagnoregio famous. The Living Nativity Scene is a unique traditional event. In the lead up to Christmas, the town is transformed into Little Bethlehem and welcomes the historical re-enactment of the nativity. In the streets, you will meet shepherds with their own flock, blacksmiths, bakers, weavers, and of course the inevitable grotto where locals play Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus.

How to get to Civita di Bagnoregio