“The dying city” is one of the names given to Civita di Bagnoregio (Lazio), one of “the most beautiful villages in Italy”, where the time seems to have stopped ages ago.

Reading time 4 minutes

Civita di Bagnoregio is located in the middle of Valle dei Calanchi, between two valleys, Fossato del Rio Torbido and Fossato del Rio Chiaro. These were once the access roads to the Bolsena Lake from the Tiber Valley.

Today less than twenty residents live there and, in order to get there, it is necessary to cross a long bridge from the nearest hill to the access to the Old Town.


The current appearance of the village dates back to the end of the Middle Ages and it stayed almost the same since then. This gives the area a charming atmosphere, making it look like a fairytale village hanging between legend and history, an enchanting and mystical place.

This is the land where the Franciscan monk and philosopher San Bonaventura and the essayist and novelist Bonaventura Tecchi come from. Civita di Bagnoregio has very ancient origins and the area was already inhabited in the Villanovan era (IX-VIII b.C.), as witnessed by several archaeological finds. Later the Etruscans settled there and made of Civita a flourishing town whose strategic position and closeness to the most important communication routes of the time facilitated its improvement.

Civita di Bagnoregio is experiencing a new growth nowadays, thanks to the increasing flow of tourists coming here every year to admire the town. This has made restricted access necessary, in order not to damage the delicate balance of the ancient structures.

Things to do, see and eat in Civita di Bagnoregio

The Geological and Landslide Museum

Located in the ancient renaissance palace that belonged to the Alemanni family in Piazza San Donato dates back to 1585. The museum is divided into four rooms, each dedicated to a different topic: landslides, fossils, history, Civita.

The Church of San Donato

Built in the 5th century, is a beautiful, holy building in the heart of the village of Civita di Bagnoregio. It was built in the Romanesque style and later renovated; in 1511 the church was rebuilt on a project by the architect Nicola Matteucci of Caprarola. The facade was rebuilt in the Renaissance style and in 1524 a central gate was added to the facade. The inside of the church is divided into three aisles, some frecoes of the school of Perugino and a wooden Crucifix from the 15th century are stored there. In 1695 an earthquake caused severe damage to the building.

The cave of San Bonaventura

According to legend, as a child got ill his parents addressed to San Francesco for his recovery. San Francesco accepted their request and decided to stay for a few days at the Grotta Belvedere of San Francesco Vecchio. It was in the cave that the boy recovers thanks to San Francesco. Than San Francesco turned to the child and sayed “Bona Ventura“, with reference to his recovery, and from that day on, the child took the name of Bonaventura, even when he became part of the Franciscan order, in the nearby convent. The cave, an ancient Etruscan tomb, was later known as the “Grotta di San Bonaventura“.

The panorama from the viewpoint

The only starting point from where you can walk to the town of Civita di Bagnoregio, gives a wonderful view over Civita.

Amazing pictures can be taken from here!!


The centre of the village

Piazza San Donato used to be the forum and is today called “la piazzetta” (little square). The front side is dominated by the Duomo of San Donato, Cathedral of the town until 1699.


What to eat

Even if only a few inhabitants live in Civita today, in the centre of the ancient village you can still find some excellent typical Italian restaurants and taverns, where products from Umbria and Lazio can be tasted and visitors can be charmed by the picturesque village.

Where to spend the night

In the area there are some B&Bs, Holiday farms and affordable hotels. We will give you two hints, very different one from each other:

  1. Don’t miss the chance to stay at Bolsena Lake, only 20kms from here. Bolsena Lake is the fifth largest one in Italy and there are numerous campsites with swimming pools and restaurants around the lake;
  2. Do something crazy and sleep at His Majesty’s Court https://www.cortedellamaesta.com/ the charm of this ancient residence is priceless – well, it actually has a price and it’s not a low one!

Interesting facts

Civita di Bagnoregio was the inspiring place for the anime Laputa, the castle in the sky by Hayao Miyazaki, the author of “The enchanted city”, an international success.

The author of The Enchanted City revealed in an interview that the enchanted village in the province of Viterbo was a source of inspiration for him, along with other landscapes admired in Wales.

We are sure that Civita di Bagnoregio will charm you!

Enjoy your visit! 🙂

Ciao da Cris e Marco del blog in giro in giro

Leave a Comment