Civita di Bagnoregio | Step Inside Italy’s Dying City

Welcome to Civita di Bagnoregio!

Civita di Bagnoregio

Civita di Bagnoregio is a comune in the province of Viterbo in Lazio, located about 90 kilometres (56 mi) northwest of Rome and about 28 kilometres (17 mi) north of Viterbo. 

Awesome Trivia: Civita di Bagnoregio are actually two towns!

Perched on a hill, Civita (in Latin it also meant City – Civitas) is accessible only by a bridge from the town of Bagnoregio, hence the Civita (City) di (of) Bagnoregio.

Bagnoregio

(getting to Civita, driving through Bagnoregio)

Bagnoregio has been the backdrop to some famous films, such as; ‘La Strada‘ by Fellini (1954), starring Anthony Quinn; ‘The two colonels‘ (1962); and also the famous comedic duo Totò and Alberto Sordi shot some scenes from the film ‘Contestazione Generale‘ (1970) by Luigi Zampa in this unique town.

Before I embarked on this ‘journey’, I knew very little of Bagnoregio.

I had seen some photos online and said ‘ I gotta get there’ and so I did. 

Chiesa S. Agostino

Tourist by Chance in Civita di Bagnoregio

Finally, I get to Bagnoregio, park my car and get my ‘kit’ out (camera, mobile, tripod and video camera) out of the car.

As I am snapping the photos above, I get stopped by Giovanni ‘l’uomo sulla bicicletta’ (the man on the bike), as he is known by the locals.

Out of the kindness of his own heart, he gave me some local knowledge on Bagnoregio. 

Giovanni went on to explain that in Piazza Cavour (below) and the Monastery are where some of the main scenes of La Strada were filmed. A classic of Italian cinema.

Giovanni is actually very well known (as ‘the man on the bike’) and hopefully you are lucky to meet him on your visit. A real character! 

He would also recommend the restaurant where I would eventually have lunch. I mean, what sort of Tourist by Chance would I be, if I did not listen to the locals? 

Civita di Bagnoregio

a scene from ‘La Strada’ in Piazza Cavour. Picture taken from Canino.info

IMG_0027

Left: Giovanni ‘l’uomo sulla bicicletta’ and Convento S. Francesco used in La Strada. 

Why is it the Dying City?

Civita di Bagnoregio

Known as the ‘dying city’, Civita di Bagnoregio is connected to the rest of the world only by a narrow footbridge! The one in the photo above.  

Rising on constantly eroding volcanic rock, Civita is doomed, as the badlands will one day crumble or so they say (marketing gimmick?).

While the thought of that happening is quite morbid, when you first arrive you cannot but think what an amazing sight this small little town, only a 1.5 hour drive from Rome, really is. 

Today, Civita has only about 6 year-round residents (I have heard different takes on this)  and you will find another great read on this remote town at ‘The Curious Cafe‘.

Porta di S. Maria

Civita di Bagnoregio | Porta S. Maria

After one of the most tiring walks (its a bit of hike and not for everyone!), you finally arrive to Porta S. Maria, the imposing entrance to the town of Civita, and for that moment you do feel like you are stepping back in time, or even a museum.  

Meticulously maintained, one of the first things you will notice is how Civita was untouched by the Renaissance era and maintains a real medieval feel. I later learned that only the facade of the church was remodelled during the Renaissance.

What You Need to Know

Civita di Bagnoregio

A 1.50EUR ‘entrance fee’ is payable before you can proceed for your trek to the top. This is a challenging climb for anyone not in particularly good shape (see my video above).

My recommendation: visit between November, February and March to enjoy the serenity of this place.

Piazza of Bagnoregio. Welcome to the center of town, where you will find the only public phone, the Etruscan columns, and also the donkey races – yes you read correctly. See what Rick Steves has to say.

San Donato Church in Civita. Bagnoregio was a diocese as early as the 7th century! Its cathedral is dedicated to St. Donato of Arezzo, a martyr of the 4th century and was was built in the 13th century.  Around the 15th century the building underwent small renovations, including the redesign of the façade, however, you will see that the bell tower remained untouched.

S. Donato Church

St. Donato Church

Why Visit?

Civita di Bagnoregio

1. Great day trip.  

When planning a trip from Rome to surrounding regions/cities. Approximately 30min drive to Orvieto, 30min drive to Viterbo, 1.5hr drive from Rome, 1.5hr drive to Siena and 1hr to Todi.

2. It’s unique.

Equal to many parts of Italy, it’s a great place to take that amazing photo to wow your friends and make it your next ‘cover’ photo 😉

Civita di Bagnoregio

3. The food.

Italy has a reputation for offering great cuisine and here is no different. Since it borders with other regions, you will find a pleasant mix of pastas, meats and wine! You can really enjoy excellent pork products, processed entirely using time-honored traditional methods. Try find a local Cesanese (Cesanese del Piglio) to accompany these hearty meals. 

Tourist by Chance on Instagram

Thanks to #instagram, I connected with Justyna from The World by the Brunette and she pointed out that Civita di Bagnoregio has an incredible amount of cats!

So if you love cats and photography, then this village is for you 😉

Thank you to Justyna for being a part of Tourist by Chance and make sure to check our her instagram for more great photos – Justyna Sitko

 Where to Eat?

I ate at Al Forno di Agnese (link to restaurants page) and enjoyed a Pincinelle al Pistacchio (pincinelle pasta with a pistacchio pesto).

Another great way to get some energy back is th ‘ricotta ice-cream’ with wild berries and figs, at L’Arco del Gusto.

Been to Civita di Bagnoregio and want to share your photos with other Tourist by Chance readers? Email me your story and photos!

I will be happy to share your experience. 

When in this part of Italy, do not miss a visit to surrounding areas as such Bolsena, Montefiascone (link to post) and Parco di Bomarzo (link to post)

Updated: October, 2016

How to get there?

Use your smart phone as a GPS by purchasing a local TIM or Vodafone sim card on arrival!

When driving around Italy, make sure to have a reliable GPS/Sat Nav with updated maps for Italy.

Some of the signs are no longer visible and you can risk getting lost.

Parking:

Parking at Bagnoregio costs 1.00EUR, however, as you get closer to Civita the price gets up to 2.00EUR per hour.

In high tourist season (April – October) parking will be difficult to find close to Civita and the walk from Bagnoregio to Civita is about 20-25 minutes (2km/1.2mi).

Bring coins with you for parking or if you forget you will need to go to the bar at Pizza Alberto Picci and buy something!

Not sure how to ask for coins – use the worlds most trusted translator – Google Translate.

By Train (as of October 2016):

Departing Rome (or any parts of Italy) you can take the train to either Viterbo or Orvieto (use Trenitalia.it). Take the COTRAL Bus (link to site).

I recommend you depart from Orvieto (link to post) and take the bus from the main Piazza Cahen (see times below), since they are much more organized. 

Orvieto → Bagnoregio
Piazza Cahen (Orvieto) 6:20 7:25* 7:50* 9:10 12:45 13:55 15:45 17:40 18:20  
Orvieto train station 6:30 7:35* 8:00* 9:20 12:55 14:05 15:55 17:50 18:30  
                     
Bagnoregio → Orvieto
                     
Train station 6:05 7:05* 7:40 10:35 11:05 13:35 14:00* 15:10 17:10* 18:05
Piazza Cahen 6:15 7:15* 7:50 10:45 11:15 13:45 15:20 17:20* 18:20
Note * No service on Sundays. Trains run on Saturdays
* *buses that run only during the school period from June to September.
* About latest timetable, please check the Cotral Bus Company’s ‘Trip Planner‘ 
* About the ticket fare, please visit a tobacco shop.

From Bagnoregio (Google Map), you can walk (approx 2kms) or take the urban bus that drops travellers off at the bridge of Civita. 

See the video above for times of the urban bus. Tickets Purchased onboard. 

Depart from Piazza S. Agostino to Loc. Mercatello (access to the bridge of Civita). Return from: Loc. Mercatello to Piazzale Battaglini.

Recently visited and have updated information on the bus times? Please make sure to share!

Authors Note: This post was originally published in March 2015 and has been completely revamped for accuracy and comprehensiveness. Photos with Copyright signature, added September 2017.

16 thoughts on “Civita di Bagnoregio | Step Inside Italy’s Dying City

    1. Wow thanks a lot man! Coming from you it really means a lot and I appreciate the feedback! 🙂 I hope I can one day have your success! Grazie and ciao from Rome!

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  2. This little town reminds me of my time in San Gemini, Italy. The regional areas have so much to offer. I really want to see the Civita di Bagnoregio! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  3. This is an amazing place, especially with this bridge ! As Ajay, I know Saint Paul de Vence, but I was thinking about Cordes-sur-Ciel when I saw your pictures. “Ciel” means “sky” and the first time I’ve seen this village, it was really in the sky as the clouds made the hill totally disppear. The village was suspended above the clouds, just like heaven…

  4. Hey, so nice to read something beyond Cinque Terre in Italy ! This is exactly the kind of place that I would love to visit whenever I am in Italy- something off the popular guidebooks and straight from a local’s (Italian) perspective !

    1. haha Richa! Funnily enough we will have a post of Monterosso (in Cinque Terre) in August but you are right, there is so much more to see and do and that is what we are here to discover through our day to day lives 🙂 Thank you for reading and if you ever make it to Italy we would love to hear your experiences!
      Ciao from sunny Rome!
      Giulia & Valter
      touristsbychance.com

  5. Hey, it’s lovely to read something beyond Cinque Terre in Italy. This is precisely the kind of place that I would like to visit whenever I am in Italy- offbeat and straight from a local’s (Italian) perspective. All the best to you two !

  6. This little town reminds me of my visit to an equally quaint town in south of France called St. Paul de Vence. (http://www.travelure.in). The only difference seems to be that St Paul… has now been taken over by designers and they have set up boutiques that sell anything from souvenirs to fashion. Looks like a place to visit during next Italy trip!

    1. Hey Ajay! If you go to Civita di Bagnoregio we look forward to reading about your experience! We left you a comment on our visit to St. Paul De Vence – a beautiful part of the world as well! Thank you for reading touristsbychance.com! Ciao from Rome!

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