There really is no other place quite like Civita di Bagnoregio. Accessible solely by a quarter-mile long footbridge, this remote little commune is perched atop an island of volcanic tufa, amid the windswept canyons of the Tiber River valley. Founded by the Etruscans in the 5th century BCE, Civita thrived for hundreds of years before it began to literally crumble in the 16th century. The sliver of earth that once connected Civita to neighboring village Bagnoregio eventually eroded away, isolating Civita from the rest of the world. Its population declined rapidly, and for many years, Civita remained sequestered and sparsely inhabited.
Today, however, Civita is on the rebound. New life is flowing through the hamlet, thanks to the opening of several trattorias, shops, and stylish accommodations. In an age where we’re overly connected to the world, compliments of the Internet, Wi-Fi, smartphones, tablets, apps, etc., being isolated on an island village in the Italian countryside doesn’t sound like such a bad thing.
Civita di Bagnoregio is only 80 miles north of Rome, making it easily accessible via a side trip during a stay in the city or from Tuscany or Umbria. The ideal time to visit is in the late afternoon, when the village is set aglow by the sun on its descent into the western sky. Parking in Bagnoregio is easy but metered, so be sure to have some change handy. Before crossing the footbridge, you must pay a small fee of €3.00 per person, which was imposed recently in order to build up a fund to pay for much-needed structural and engineering work to keep Civita from crumbling even further. Upon crossing the footbridge, be prepared for a very steep ascent—but what awaits at the top is surely worth the climb.
(Last visited in October, 2015)