Civita di Bagnoregio - History and Facts | History Hit

Civita di Bagnoregio

Bagnoregio, Lazio, Italy

Known as ’Il paese che muore’ (The dying town), Civita di Bagnoregio is a stunning medieval city that sits atop an eroded citadel. Founded by the Etruscans 2,500 years ago, it has been continuously inhabited to present day.

Peta Stamper

22 Jul 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Civita di Bagnoregio

Civita di Bagnoregio in Italy is a stunning example of a medieval city left relatively untouched by modernity. Known as ‘Il paese che muore’ – the dying town – Civita di Bagnoregio sits atop a rocky outcrop that stands between two valleys.

Civita di Bagnoregio history

Believed to have been founded around 500 BC, Civita di Bagnoregio was originally a Etruscan settlement and sat along an important trade route. Later falling under Roman rule, the area was conquered by the Lombards after the fall of the Western Empire.

In fact, the city was once known as  Balneum Regis – meaning ‘the bath of the king’, as the Lombard King Desiderious had his wounds treated by the hot springs of the area. Passing later to the Franks and then becoming part of the Papal states, Civita di Bagnoregio is also known for being the birthplace of Saint Bonaventure.

An earthquake in 1695 started the decline of Civita di Bagnoregio as many inhabitants began to leave after significant damage occurred. In the following decades and centuries the seismic activity, landslides and erosion saw the Civita di Bagnoregio virtually abandoned as more and more of the city was destroyed.

Civita di Bagnoregio today

Today, Civita di Bagnoregio’s unique history, location and architecture has seen it become a tourist attraction and efforts have been made to try to preserve this historic location. However, Civita di Bagnoregio remains on the list of the 100 Most Endangered Sites.

Visitors to Civita di Bagnoregio can see a number of interesting sites as well as the exceptional architecture on display. The fascinating ‘Eutruscan Corridor’ is a Etruscan tunnel that completely crosses the town. Also worth a visit is the Cave Of Saint Bonaventure, the ancient olive-press and Saint Donato’s Church. There is a tourist information centre at the site which provides a good starting point for visitors.

The erosion caused over the centuries changed this once thriving settlement into an isolated citadel and Civita di Bagnoregio now has only a handful of residents.

Getting to Civita di Bagnoregio

Accessible only by a remarkable foot-bridge, visitors to Civita di Bagnoregio should head for Bagnoregio. Note that if you come by car, you will have to pay a fee to park it in the valley below the bridge. A bus will take you to the beginning of the bridge. You can as well get there by foot, but the road is uphill and quite steep.

For those driving, follow Highway A1 towards Rome and exit in Orvieto. After the toll both turn left and follow directions to Civita di Bagnoregio.

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