Italy private tours can take you to some stunning places and the tiny town of Civita di Bagnoreggio is one of them. Located about 80 miles from Rome, Civita precariously hanging on a tufa hill ridge over deep ravines. Founded by the Etruscans some 2,500 years ago it slowly succumbs to the soil erosion typical for this area of the Lazio region. A significant landslide after an earthquake in 1695 isolated Civita di Bagnoreggio from the plateau leading to its slow abandonment. In the 1950s, a quarter-mile-long footbridge was built to provide access to Civita and in an attempt to save it from a complete neglect.
Currently there are less than a dozen people living in the town, but during summer months, it fills with visitors seeking authentic quiet corners of Italy. The town is going through a revival with many buildings being lovingly restored and there are a few excellent guesthouses and restaurants.
To enter Civita di Bagnoreggio, you walk through an impressive gate carved out by Etruscans during its glory days. Wonder around cobblestoned lanes, discover Civita’s nooks and crannies, sip a coffee in one of the sunny picturesque squares. Make sure you check out the ancient Etruscan caves that were used to store cheese and wine and as bomb shelters during the Second World War. There are some beautiful carved lions and eagles on surviving medieval buildings, imposing Renaissance wooden doors leading to nowhere, a pretty church of San Donato, a lovely 16th century mill and. At the end of the main street, you will find a small viewing terrace with beautiful vistas over the dramatic Calanchi Valley.
Although many tourists come to Civita di Bagnoreggio only for a few hours, it is worth staying here overnight. In the evening, the ancient streets become quiet and a handful of friendly resident gather on the central piazza for an aperitivo and a chat. It is the best time to take in the relaxed atmosphere and to appreciate the town’s beauty before it surrenders to time.
Photos by: Rutger Vos, Luca Aless, Jonathan Fors.