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A Dying Town

Did you know that in Italy there are still towns where only a dozen people live? And did you know that there is a town that is slowly breaking town? This town, the dying town of Civita di Bagnoregio looks like a floating city in the sky for most of autumn-winter days..

A very lucky photograph I took on a very cold January day. This is why I say you should visit Civita di Bagnoregio both in summer and winter, for both seasons offer unique sights.

Perched on a pinnacle in a lushy green valley, the village of Civita di Bagnoregio is Italy’s ultimate hill town as well a dying town. The once self-sufficient citadel, has seen most of its residents moved elsewhere in these past few decades turning Civita di Bagnoregio into a dying place. The last of its lifelong residents have passed on, and the only work here is in serving visitors. But relatives and newcomers are moving in and revitalizing the village, and it remains an amazing place to visit. (It’s even become popular as a backdrop for movies, soap operas, and advertising campaigns.) Civita’s only connection to the world and the town of Bagnoregio is a long pedestrian bridge.

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In Etruscan times, it was a sizeable city above fertile valleys and winding streams in what is now the Lazio region.
But those streams ate at the plateau and eroded its clay and sand base.

In every earthquake, exposed tufa stone and parts of the city tumbled into the valleys
You can see the evidence today, in narrow streets that end abruptly at the edge of the cliff and in walls still standing.
The population today varies from about 12 people in winter to over 100 in the summer.

Life is simple in Civita di Bagnoregio and the locals, not used to tourists, continue spending their days doing what they did decades ago; going to the local butcher, buying fresh bread and sitting outside talking to their friends and neighbours.
The village is riddled with tunnels and caves; some may have been Etruscan tombs. Some are used as wine cellars and cisterns

Why is Civita dying?

The reason Civita is so unusual is that it is disappearing.
They call it “the dying city” because, gradually, over many centuries, erosion and earthquakes have tugged away at the tufa rock until only this small part remains.

As the sign says, Civita di Bagnoregio is “the town that is dying” due to its tuff structure slowly being eroded away by wind and rain.

Everywhere you turn, the views across the collapsed hillsides and wide barren landscape,as far as the Umbrian mountains, are breathtaking.


A curious Italian-Chilean travel writer and culture enthusiast who loves to discover the obscure and unusual in everything.

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