Civita di Bagnoregio – Ancient Endangered Hill Town in Italy

Civita di Bagnoregio From A Distance
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THEME: You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden! Matthew 5: 14

MOVIE: The Name of the Rose (Sean Connery, 1986)

KINDLE: (Il nome della rosa) The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco (Italian Author), 1980

WINE: Le Poggere Rosso Lazio IGT , (Cabernet Sauvignon & Sangiovese), 13% alc. 2017

BEER: “La Biereta,” Civita di Bagnoregio

The Dying City

Civita di Bagnoregio is found in the Province of Viterbo, Italy about 150 km from Rome or a two hour drive or one hour from Florence. We stayed both on the coast and in Rome if you want the goods on the top places to stay and the 10 best things to do in Rome. See our port. Today destination Civita di Bagnoregio is place also known as the Dying City because it sits on a fragile cliff of once-volcanic rock which is slowly crumbling away and so is on a list of 100 most endangered sites. It sits between two rivers: Rio Chiaro and Rio Torbido, above the valley of Calanchi and so is actually a strategic position for commerce and communication. The two rivers, however, along with the natural erosion of wind and rain contribute to the slow but sure crumbling of the tuff hill. We got there mid-day and found a parking spot as close as possible, next to the police station. Two Euros per hour for parking but it looked like you could get even closer by driving all the way to the start of the walk. Once you get to the beginning of the walk to the civita, you’ll have to pay an entrance fee of 5 Euros per person.

The Walk

The walk does look daunting but if you take your time, and water, it’s actually nothing more than a long walk. We did the entire round trip in a little over an hour and in 90 degree weather. You can only get to the town by crossing a 300 meter suspension pedestrian bridge. Don’t worry, it’s a solid supension bridge. What I want to know is, before this bridge was built, how did people get to the town? How did they get their water from the two rivers below? The views are spectacular and you truly feel like you’re in a medieval town with Roman arches everywhere. The streets are paved with stone and cement so they’re very walkable and they do have little shops for postcards, coffee and a refreshing beer at La Piazzetta to reward you after your upward climb!

Things to Do

  • At the entrance is the Porta San Maria, a monument of a pair of lions grabbing two human heads which is a symbol of the two rulers defeated by the people of Bagnoregio.
  • Main square contains the romanesque church of San Donato which was restored in the 16th century. It contains a 15th century wooden crucifix and a fresco from the Perugino school
  • There are 3 renaissance buildings: Colesanti, Bocca and Alemanni in the tiny alleys. See if you can find them.
  • Museum Antica Civitas which is built inside a residence
  • Grotto of San Bonaventure which is an old chamber tomb dug into the sheer rock and named after Friar Bonaventure of Bagnoregio (1217-1274). He was the biographer of St. Francis of Assisi.
  • For the Kids – there is a stamping machine to impress a coin press with the exterior of Civita di Bagnoregio.

Light & Perspective

Travel can be a tricky business! It is easy to succumb to the notion at you have to see it all. Claire and I believe travel is circle of travel and the more you love a place the more you will return and the more you will learn about a place. We rejoice in the uniqueness of a destination and desire to perceive something not many would see. That is our goal. A city on a hill cannot be hidden is the famous Bible quotation. Did you know that it has long been asserted that the fishermen of Galilee all could see the Roman lighthouse at Akko and it was renown to everyone seafarer of that part of the world, hence Matthew 5: 14? It is said that the movie and book “The Name of the Rose” got its inspiration from Saint Michaels in Susa Valley.

By Elio Pallard, CC BY-SA 4.0,

Other treasures exist like this just one hour north of Venice in the “Terme Euganee” district. See our post! You can see the medieval village described in our hilltop visit to the Roman baths found there.

Civita di Bagnegoria Bed and Breakfast

Architecture Frozen in Time

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Civita di Bagnoregio-9
Civita di Bagnoregio-10

San Donato

Saint Bonaventure, born 1221 AD. as Giovanni di Fidanza is believed to have come from Civita di Bagnoregio. He became a Doctor of the Church as did your’s truly, Jamie. After the election of Pope Sixtus IV he became the Cardinal Bishop of Albano. With this Jamie and Claire come full circle to the “Terme” Baths they visited and reviewed in 2019 just north of Venice

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Civita di Bagnoregio-13


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