Discovering Civita di Bagnoregio, the dying city in Italy

Discovering Civita di Bagnoregio, the dying city in Italy

Civita di Bagnoregio, Italy

Italians call it "la città che muore", which means the dying city. Welcome to one of the most magical and charming places in Italy, and certainly in the Lazio area. Welcome to Civita di Bagnoregio, a settlement founded 2,500 years ago by the Etruscans. A dying city.

Before we get to the description of the place itself, let's solve the mystery: why the dying city? The Etruscans had to have imagination and finesse to set up a settlement on such a steep slope. However, no one knew those days that this hill is built mainly of sand and volcanic ash (with some small admixture of other materials), which in time began to fall and slip. Currently, it is said that the time of the entire settlement is counted and sooner or later the rocks will fall apart, taking the buildings with them. That is why it is worth going on a trip to Civita di Bagnoregio, while we still can.

Bridge to Civita di Bagnoregio

Civita di Bagnoregio

Civita di Bagnoregio is one of the most magical and spectacular little towns in Italy. When I was here for the first time, I rode for a few hours by train and then by bus especially to get here and photograph this architectural miracle. Anyway, it was New Year's Eve and I barely managed the last train to Rome, where I wanted to see how Italians are spending the New Year (I recommend having a strong head - not only because they drink a lot, but also because of their game called drunken bulls, when some people try to hit others using their heads. But this is a tale for some other time...).

It is a small town, where most of the inhabitants, because of the sliding rocks, have long abandoned their homes. In winter, about seven people live here, and in the summer, in the tourist season, less than one hundred. However, despite the small size, the Civita di Bagnoregio looks absolutely insane no matter what time of year we visit it (the main photo at the top of the page was taken in summer, the photo at the beginning of the article on the right - in winter). Unfortunately, I was unable to arrive at a time when clouds surround the city and it looks like it's hanging between the earth and the sky. If I will ever photo this view, I will definitely put it here.

Civita di Bagnoregio: City inside

In Civita di Bagnoregio we can find a bar and several small places where you can spend the night. There is also the Antico Forno restaurant, right by the main square, where we can eat Italian cuisine specialties, such as pizza, local pastes, gnocchi and various meat dishes (the restaurant is not too cheap). The town is also a great viewpoint, from where you can see not only the Tiber Valley but also layered rock mosaics or distant forests.

Traveling through the narrow streets of the city, we have the impression that time has stopped here and we can feel like a medieval traveler. It is quiet and peaceful here. Residents take care of their gardens, which are green and contrast with the color of sand covering the city. The main point in Civita di Bagnoregio is a small square with a historic church and one of two lodging houses (Bed & Breakfast). It is difficult here for a free room, but if we will make it, we will pay about 100 euros per night, depending on the season.

View from Civita di Bagnoregio

It is worth adding that Civita di Bagnoregio is not the only Italian town that is in a difficult situation due to its location. If we have more time, it is also worth visiting Pitigliano or Calcata, which are located about 50 and 85 km from the dying city described here, and are equally charming.

What to see here?

Despite the fact that Civita di Bagnoregio may seem like a small town, due to its tourist character, there are several places here, which are definitely worth a visit. You can find their list below.

  • Church of San Donato - the only church on the hill, located at the main square.
  • Churches of Sant'Agostino and San Bonaventura - these churches can be found in the main city of Bagnoregio, outside the hill.
  • The entrance gate of the city - the arch of Romanesque architecture
  • Town Square
  • Mari Gardens - from which we can see the beautiful views of the canyon.
  • Etruscan caves
  • Geological Museum
  • The Taruffi Museum - the museum can be found in the actual city of Bagnoregio, not on the hill.
Donkey on the way to Civita di Bagnoregio

Where to eat?

As I wrote in more detail above, there is only one restaurant in Civita di Bagnoregio, which is located on the main square and is not too cheap. So, if we have the opportunity, I recommend taking your own food with yourself and eat it on one of the walls surrounding the city - we will have a great view.

How to get here?

The dying city is not located near any larger city (the closest is Viterbo), so the access is not the easiest. Below are two types of transport that I reached Civita di Bagnoregio.

Plants in Civita di Bagnoregio

By train and bus

If we want to go here from Rome, we must first go by train to Viterbo, then change to a bus that takes us to the city of Bagnoregio. From here it's only moments on foot (not so easy way, we'll go through some hills) and we will get to Civita di Bagnoregio. During my travel, I spent the night in Viterbo and I recommend visiting this city, in particular, to enter one of the towers with a beautiful view of the town.

By car

Probably the easiest, fastest and most convenient form of transport to get to Bagnoregio. Coming from the north, we have to go to the city of Orvieto (also recommend to visit), and from the south, we go to the city of Viterbo. In both cities, we should already see signs for Bagnoregio, to which we can reach by local roads.

Ruins in Civita di Bagnoregio

Car parking

In Bagnoregio there is one and only city parking and you cannot miss it. It costs 2 euros for the first hour and 1 euro for every next one. You can also buy a place for the whole day, then it costs 6 euros. We must remember that we must determine how long we leave the car because we pay in advance. I advise you to think carefully because we will have a long way to the car from Civita di Bagnoregio.


Civita di Bagnoregio is an amazing place, full of charm and history. Every traveler during the trip will find something for themselves: beautiful views, old Italian architecture, nature, the mountains or a bit of peace and quiet. I recommend this place to all who value interesting experiences and especially those who like to photograph. If you liked this article or have additional questions, leave me a comment below.

Wojciech Kuźma

Hey there! My name is Wojtek and I am very happy that you came to my travel blog. I've been traveling the world for a few good years now and I still want more.

On my website I describe the adventures that have happened to me, you will also find here a collection of valuable tips for tourists and travelers. If you liked this article, be sure to leave a comment and read some more!

4.80 | 5 votes
Comments: 2
  •   13th March 2018, 15:11

    What a beautiful place! How come Ive never been to Civita di Bagnoregio during my trips to Italy? I was just 50 kilometers from here and I had no idea this place exists... I hope to see it during my next travel.

  •   25th June 2018, 16:43

    What a beautiful city and views, great photos! And now I finally know why Civita di Bagnoregio is called a dying city, it always interested me. Thanks! This text was translated automatically. Original text is below: Cóż za przepiękne miasto i widoki, świetne zdjęcia! I teraz już nareszcie wiem dlaczego Civita di Bagnoregio zwane jest umierającym miastem, zawsze mnie to ciekawiło. Dzięki!

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