Civita di Bagnoregio in Viterbo province in central Italy was founded by Etruscans over 2500 years ago. It was important for its position along an ancient road connected to a dense network of trade routes.
Over the course of the 20th century, its population dwindled to just 15, but thanks to American travel guide Rick Steves, who popularised it in the 1990s, it is experiencing a welcome tourist revival, with some former residents returning.
It is actually two villages. Civita is the tiny island village on top of a cliff rising 439 metres from the Tiber River valley. The second is the practical town with shops and roads. Joined to Bagnoregio by a single bridge, Civita is in unreal isolation due to the erosion that makes supporting tufa rock become thinner and thinner. It lies on an unstable layer of clay and sand altered by wind, rain and earthquake activity.
There are plans to reinforce the plateau with steel rods to prevent further geological damage, which is good news, as the city has much architecture to admire, some spanning several thousand years. The Italian Government has designated it a national cultural resource, so its protection is assured, at least for the short term.
While it is shrinking, Civita has kept its old world charm and spirit. Visiting the little village is like being part of a moving history lesson, with architecture and culture dating back more than 2500 years.
The entire village is just 300 metres long, so it's easy to discover it for yourself. You can also employ the services of a knowledgeable guide. The absence of cars makes it an enchanting place and for a few days each year snow falls, making it look magical.
Civita B&B is the only place in town to stay and it would be difficult to find anywhere better. The 15th-century building's rooms face the piazza and its trattoria, Antico Forno, serves delicious food.
Piciarello is a pasta typical of the area, as are black truffles. Franco Sala puts ingredients to excellent use, creating items such as bruschetta mista hors d'oeuvre with sauces of black truffle, sweet pepper, green and black olives, tomatoes, pumpkin and chicory sauce; and piciarelli alla Boscaiola pasta, tomato, asparagus and boletus mushrooms.
DriveAway Holidays has car hire for $57 a day, based on three-day hire.
Emirates has flights to Rome.
- Melbourne, $1890
- Brisbane, $1891
- Perth, $1892
- Sydney, $1906
- Adelaide, $2395
- Darwin, $2482
On sale until December 15, 2006 from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth. Valid for travel between February 1-24, 2007.
On sale until August 31, 2007 from Adelaide and Darwin. Travel validity dates apply.
Prices quoted are correct on October 26, 2006.
2/157 Walker Street
North Sydney 2060
Ph: 1300 363 500
Fax: (02) 9929 4655
Antico Forno B&B
Ph: 39 0761 760016
Ph: 1300 303 777