Civita Di Bagnoregio, known as Italy’s dying town, is a 3000-year-old picture-perfect village perched on a hill about 75 miles north of Rome. Ages ago, Civita was much bigger than it is now, and a road connected it to other settlements.

Constant earthquakes, landslides, and erosion have reduced the size of the town dramatically. All this has stripped away much of the volcanic rock from the cliff. That is the reason it is called the dying town. Civita looks like a floating castle or an island on top of a hill because it is so secluded from other parts.

Civita has countered death for so long that Italy has nominated it and the surrounding areas comprising stark cliffs and valleys to be a UNESCO World Heritage Site. These cliffs and valleys are known as “badlands”.

Today, Civita is just 500 feet long and 300 feet wide, and it is only accessible by a bridge. With only a few streets and houses from the medieval period and has about 12 permanent residents.

The Dying Town

The bridge that connects the mainland to Civita di Bagnoregio
Aerial view of the town
A partially damaged house is seen in Civita

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A closed restaurant in Civita
The main square of the town
Town’s maintenance worker cleans the main square
People have drinks while sitting on the steps of a church in Civita di Bagnoregio
An extensometer used to monitor the effectiveness of the measures put in place to protect the town
All the restaurants closed due to the pandemic

The inhabitants have built seven ‘structural wells’ underground around its perimeter, which have hundreds of steel rods attached to the hillside rock to prevent it from collapsing.

The only thing that helped in keeping Civita alive was tourism. The total number of visitors that came to the town went from 40,000 in 2009 to a million in 2019.

Visitors have to give a minimal amount of five euros as a fee to cross the pedestrian bridge and enter Civita.

The financial boost from tourists helped create jobs and pay for the structural monitoring system that keeps the town standing. 

But the pandemic and international travel restrictions have reduced the money coming into the town, which is essential for its survival. Visitors from within Italy can still visit the town. That has helped in conserving the town.

Recognition from UNESCO will surely bring international attention and tourism that the town needs to survive for a longer time.

Image Credit: Google Images

Sources: Reuters, The Times of India, CNN

Find The Blogger: @PrernaMagan

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