The “dying city” of Civita di Bagnoregio

The beautiful medieval town of Civita di Bagnoregio, about 100 km north of Rome – within the province of Lazio and just along the border with neighboring Umbria – is known as la città che muore (the dying city).

Dying is, unfortunately, just what Civita di Bagnoregio is doing. The city, originally founded by the Etruscans, is perched on cliffs of tufo (tufa stone, similar to limestone), which is slowly but surely crumbling. Endangered residents have long since moved from Civita di Bagnoregio to the town of Bagnoregio, built during the Renaissance, just opposite the chasm from the medieval town. Residents had been leaving the medieval town all throughout the 16th century, but a devastating earthquake struck the town in the late 17th century, leaving it a virtual ghost town.

A 1 km bridge connects the “new” 16th century town with its medieval twin and tourists make the stunning (and steep) climb up the bridge to enjoy this medieval treasure.

Civita di Bagnoregio in a 1920 photo.

The pedestrian-only town is a wonder to explore. Its buildings are all constructed of tufa blocks. While many of the buildings are crumbling (and those closest to the cliff edge are literally falling over the edge), some are being reconstructed and are charming. There is one hotel in town and a few room and apartment rentals for visitors who would like to make this unique town their base for exploring the region.

The town offers stunning panoramas of the calanchi appennini (eroded rock formations found frequently in the Apennine mountain range). This strange, lunar-type landscape is a dramatic backdrop to lovely Bagnoregio.

A day trip to Civita di Bagnoregio from Rome would be a top Europe travel tip. However it’s also possible as a day trip from nearby Umbria or as a destination for a relaxing holiday in the region. Just be sure to bring comfortable walking shoes for the steep climb up to the town. There’s no doubt both the walk up and the stunning beauty of the town will leave you breathless.

Have you visited Civita di Bagnoregio?