Civita di Bagnoregio is like a movie set.
There are only five year-round residents, at least a few dozen cats and almost that many restaurants. There is even a new small admission fee, just to visit the town.
But just as earthquakes and landslides and erosion have threatened this hill town for hundreds of years, perhaps today tourists are an even bigger problem.
Our visit to this city that was founded by Etruscans 500 years before Christ was, of course, in October, well after the busier summer tourist season that brings maybe 100 or more seasonal residents but lots and lots of day trippers.
The city itself sits atop and covers a rock pinnacle in the middle of what might be described as Italy’s badlands, a little bit of rocky earth that you might find closer to the Grand Canyon.
We parked our car in what we called the “sucker lot”, which is basically an overflow and bus parking area, far from Civita. To get there, we had to walk the long main road through Bagnoregio, which was able to grow hundreds of years ago and replaced most of Civita’s population. As we walked, we noticed many empty parking spaces on this sunny, but very quiet day.
The very small village can only be reached today by a long walking bridge span. When you reach the first public square in the village, you see apartments, restaurants and one old palatial front that has windows to no where, like a Hollywood false front.
There is a sign on one building that says that a 2-part British TV series Pinocchio was filmed there in 2008. Every turn in the small town has beautiful flowers and gardens, wrought iron gates and beautiful doors mostly leading to private summer homes.
The town’s cathedral has worn frescoes, but numerous relics of saints. St. Bonaventure was born here 900 years ago, and is one of the founders of the Franciscan order, and near the entrance to the footbridge, there is a small cave-like dwelling where he prayed and contemplated.
After seeing so many dramatic hill towns, this was the right one to end this part of our journey. truly saving the best for last!