Civita di Bagnoregio: enchanting Ghost Town


    Civita is a Hamlet in the heart of the Viterbese Tuscia, a distinctive Countryside of the Northern Lazio Region, about an hour away from Rome and Civitavecchia Port.

    Its strategic position, in between Southern Tuscany and the adjacent Orvieto, is what makes it an ideal destination for excursions on a day away from the Capital of Rome, an off the beaten path to consider even if you are docked in Port too. This area of Central Italy has so many things to offer. The itineraries including Civita di Bagnoregio are vast, from villages in the famous “Tuscia Region” like Vulci or Tuscania. A real cultural and historical trip. The architectures, traditions, lifestyle and landscapes are mixed in one interesting private tour.

    What makes Civita di Bagnoregio so well known?

    This little town is so special, for so many reasons: its beauty, the peculiar location, its unique history.

    With its Medieval atmosphere, Civita is a dreamy hamlet with tiny streets and steep staircases and balconies, with colorful flower pots everywhere. Plants and flowers on revive the silent ancient buildings, on every corner. This is the definition of the typical Italian hillside village.

    Its position may seem precarious, even though it appears indistructible. Built on a cliff of typical Tuff stone, the village is entirely isolated from the rest of the surrounding territory. The only way to visit it would be walking along a suspension bridge over 300 meters long. Below lies the valley that separates Civita from the town of Bagnoregio and the rest of civilization.

    The once flourishing village, inhabited first by the Etruscan, then Romans all the way up to the Medieval Era, is now a museum en plain air. The Tuff rock underneath the village has been subject to an intense erosion, throughout the centuries, with earthquakes, floods and extreme weather. A condition that made this town officially inhospitable, to live in permanently, due to the high risk of constant erosion.

    That’s why Civita di Bagnoregio is also known as “the dying town”. Living here was becoming hazardous for its inhabitants, forced to leave their homes and their reality behind and move to adjacent towns on more steady grounds. Abandoning the town, with the rustic stone houses and narrow cobblestone streets has led to a new undisturbed life for this ghost town. The confinement has given Civita a certain mysterious charm, that is just beautiful to admire. The very view people that choose to live here, in peace and quiet, surrounded by nature, have taken on the duty to preserve the town’s uniqueness. In fact there is a non profit organization in charge of the preservation and the town’s welfare. With profound respect of this little village and its story.

    What to see:

    The best thing to see in Civita di Bagnoregio is the town itself!

    As you cross the bridge, you’ll be like transported in a different dimension. Surrounded by an ancient atmosphere and Earth tones. Mixed with the browns and grays and greens are the colorful, immaculate hidden gardens and balconies, with ivy climbing up the gutters and onto the roofs and walls, plants and flowers everywhere. With restaurants and artisanal shops nestled in between buildings. And the views of the cliffs and hills and the valleys below are breathtaking!

    Cave of Holy Bonaventura

    One of the primary attractions in the area is for sure the Cave of Saint Bonaventura. Consider the Symbol of Civita di Bagnoregio by many. A place where, according to legend, a small boy, Bonaventura, was miraculously healed from a disease, after spending a few days inside this cave along with Saint Francis of Assisi, who was staying in there too, at the time and cared for the child. Once the child was cured completely, legend has it that Saint Francis looked at the boy and said “Bona Ventura!” (an exclamation that means “good luck” or “good life” in Italian). After many years had gone by, the little boy had become a man and later decided to become a friar of the Franciscan order, with the name of Bonaventura, choosing to devote his life to the famous Saint that saved him as a child. Later in Life, Bonaventura would become a cardinal, philosopher and theologian, and finally a Saint, thanks to the path he chose in life and the miracles performed at the presence of Saint Francis. The cave is none other than an ancient Etruscan Tomb, open for visit! Definitely worth a stop.

    The Belvedere

    This beautiful viewpoint of Civita is in Bagnoregio (on the other side of the bridge). A beautiful flourishing peak from where you can admire a breathtaking view of the landscapes, to fully appreciate the extraordinary position of the Ghost town.

    If you plan on arriving early in the morning, especially during fall and winter, you will find this little hamlet completely wrapped in the morning fog that vanishes slowly with the sunrise and offers incredible and privileged views of the village.

    This is definitely the season to come, if you are an avid photographer: you won’t be surprised to find people taking pictures, perched in the most unusual poses to guarantee the best shot. On the belvedere, you’ll find a beautiful Terrace, along with a few shops and a bar. This is a perfect spot to buy a souvenir: The local ceramics make for a special gift!

    In conclusion, Civita di Bagnoregio is one of the many hidden gems of Italy. With a helpful guide and tour driver, you will have no problem visiting this area and fully appreciate everything it has to offer, from the gorgeous landscapes to the architectures, its history and lifestyle and customs. If you are searching for the perfect itinerary to explore the roots of Italy off the beaten paths, this is one of those destinations you wouldn’t want to miss!


    Where is Civita di Bagnoregio located?

    Civita di Bagnoregio is situated in the heart of the Viterbese Tuscia region, in Northern Lazio, approximately an hour away from Rome and the Civitavecchia Port.

    Why is Civita di Bagnoregio known as “the town that is dying”?

    Civita di Bagnoregio is nicknamed “the town that is dying” due to the intense erosion of the Tufa rock on which it is built, caused by earthquakes, floods, and extreme weather events. This has made the village uninhabitable for long-term residence.

    How can I visit Civita di Bagnoregio?

    Visiting Civita di Bagnoregio is possible only through a suspension bridge that spans over 300 meters. The village is pedestrian-only, so visitors must walk to the historic center.

    What are the main attractions to see in Civita di Bagnoregio?

    The main attractions include the village itself, the Cave of Saint Bonaventura, an ancient Etruscan tomb open to visitors, and the Belvedere, which offers a spectacular panoramic view of the town.

    What is the history of Saint Bonaventura and his cave in Civita di Bagnoregio?

    The Cave of Saint Bonaventura is considered the symbol of Civita di Bagnoregio. According to legend, Saint Bonaventura was miraculously healed after spending several days in this cave with Saint Francis of Assisi. The cave is an ancient Etruscan tomb accessible to visitors.

    When is the best time to visit Civita di Bagnoregio?

    The best time to visit Civita di Bagnoregio is during the fall and winter, especially in the morning. During these periods, the village is often enveloped in morning fog, creating a picturesque backdrop for photographers.

    Can I purchase local souvenirs in Civita di Bagnoregio?

    Yes, there are shops and bars in Civita di Bagnoregio where you can purchase souvenirs, including local ceramics that make unique gifts.

    Is there an organization dedicated to the preservation of Civita di Bagnoregio?

    Yes, there is a non-profit organization responsible for the preservation and well-being of Civita di Bagnoregio. They work with profound respect for this small village and its history.


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    Orvieto is perched on a plateau of tufo rock (soft volcanic rock) that was once an island in the sea covering the Paglia Valley below. Here, you will have time to explore one of the finest Duomos in Italy, a gem of Gothic architecture and take an hour long tour of the underground city with its winding tunnels and Etruscan artifacts. Explore 3,000 years of history by following the ancient hidden passages, tunnels, stairs, and rooms. Another important stop is St. Patrick’s Well. This 203 feet deep well showcases double-spiral staircases for easier access to the water. Experience a delightful lunch with delicious local wine. Your tour driver will be happy to can suggest some local restaurants in the area for an authentic “Umbrian” lunch. After exploring this charming town with amazing views, you will head to Civita Bagnoregio, an almost deserted town accessible only by a foot bridge. With only 25-50 inhabitants, it mirrors a ghost town. Stroll the narrow streets, and marvel at the existence of a place where time stopped several hundred years ago. Enjoy a visit to an ancient olive oil press, originally built by the Etruscans from this area. This tour will allow you to explore the unique history of this fascinating area. At the end of the tour we will return to Rome.

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