The Most Beautiful Villages In Italy - Civita di Bagnoregio
Italy is my dream…actually it is much more than that….Italy is the most delicious, unforgettable, wild, romantic, unpredictable, passionate, unique, and indescribably perfect dream I could imagine, and Civita di Bagnoregio is the calm and quiet at the center of that dream. I can’t help but be taken away when I think back on my experience there. Like so many places in Italy I have seen and so many to come, I had known about it for years through pictures and books, and I knew that one day I would be there. There to walk up it’s bridge and walk through it’s arch. There to touch it’s walls and finally look out at it’s view…instead of it always looking out at me. I knew I would be there. There in that beautiful unexplained perfection. There in that dream.
My experience in Civita I’m sure was like many others and yet very different from most. It was on a cold rainy day in March that I visited with my family and we almost didn’t even get out of the car because of the freezing wind, 2 tired children and the fact that we didn’t have proper clothing or an umbrella for the rain. My heart sank at the idea of not seeing it after coming this far. It was one of those moments when you know that the chances of it being ideal are very slim (I think I even threw a little fit about it), but if you don’t go, you will forever regret it. I’m so thankful my heart and my husband wouldn’t let me leave because the moment we stepped through the arch (after a walk that made me doubt my decision to go) everything from before had gone. In the safety of its walls we were away from most of the wind, the cold didn’t feel as intense, and the sky seemed to want to take a break from raining. The gray of the day and the the few rays of sunshine breaking through the clouds after the rain gave everything a colorful glow which seemed to fit the town perfectly and somehow make it feel just a little warmer and dreamier. Everything was quiet with only a few other people walking around. People like us that were willing to get cold and wet in order to see this breathtaking place. Except for one little cafe, the few shops and restaurants there were already closed or closing. To my eyes it was deserted looking but to my soul it was alive with magic and so much of that ridiculously perfect Italy my heart desires to be wrapped up in. We walked on every path we could take, peaked around every corner we could find and looked out at every view we could see. Everything was peaceful and the only life to interact with us was a curious little cat that we happily stopped to say hello to. I felt as though everything there was for us…we didn’t have to share a view, wait for someone to pass or keep the kids too close to us. It felt carefree (except for the possibility for hypothermia) and simple…something you don’t always feel on a trip with two little ones. As we were nearing the end of our sightseeing, the sun started making it’s way behind the hills and that deep chill from before started to make it’s way back to our bodies. We decided to step into the one little cafe that was open on the piazza, so thankful for the break from the cold, we warmed ourselves with some much deserved red wine and bruschetta. I don’t know if it was that the chill from our fingers and toes had faded or if it was because the rumbling in my stomach could finally being satisfied but everything was delicious and colorful, and we so happily sat there together savoring every bite. With the last of the light soon to go we headed back down the hill. My soul felt so satisfied from our time there and I couldn’t help but smile the whole way down. What started out as a kind of dreaded, but I’m going to do it anyway visit, turned out to be just what I needed that day. The freedom to have our moments there alone, to pet the cats and take the pictures, to walk and discover and make the memories in a completely peaceful space was so unique and I felt as though we experienced the real Civita di Bagnoregio. I imagine in the busyness and weather of the summer, when it is warm and full of tourists, that it would feel like a completely different dream from the one I lived. But looking back now, and even that day, I’m so thankful to have seen it the way that I did….cold and wind and rain and all.
Don’t worry….This post isn’t all just I’m in love and obsessed with Italy stuff! Pictures and information are below…..
Visiting Civita di bagnoregio
Location - Civita di Bagnoregio is located in the northern part of Lazio. By car it is approx. 1 1/2 hours north from Rome and 2 1/2 hours south from Florence. It is a great day trip from the larger areas or side stop if you are traveling by car. As a bonus (if you need one) It is just a short 30 min drive from Orvieto - a beautiful hill town in southern Umbria famous for it’s Orvieto Classico wine, Gothic style cathedral and Etruscan history.
Parking - You will first drive through the town of Bagnoregio before coming to the end of the road and stopping in the parking lot. This is a pay lot. 2 euros per hour or 10 for the day. There is street parking in the town of Bagnoregio if you don’t want to pay and feel like taking a few extra steps. There are Italian style (not nice but working) public restrooms by the lot if a stop is needed before the walk. There is also a lower parking lot that you will see at the base of the bridge heading up to Civita but I would hesitate to park there. I read that this lot was only for guests staying in Civita so if you decide to check it out, make sure you check and double check before you park as nobody wants a ticket on vacation in Italy.
After you park - There will be signs in the lot pointing you towards Civita di Bagnoregio….follow them :) You will go past Caffe Belvedere on your way to the path. In front of you will be a small park with a playground, head to the end of it for a glorious view of Civita! Remember this playground on your way out if you need to get a little extra energy out of the kids! After you take a look at the view, follow the signs to start your walk. You will take some steps down to a lower road. Take a left towards Civita and continue walking until you come to a few buildings, one of which is where you will need to buy your tickets for Civita. The entrance fee is 5 euros and children 6 and under are free. You can also purchase an audio guide here if you would like. After your ticket buying is complete….you can look up, take a deep breath, smile, and then make your way up to that dreamy little hill top.
Things to do - Considering that the town barely has a population, there is a lot to do here. My favorite thing to do in a beautiful place such as this is just to walk around exploring and taking in the views. And then there is my second favorite thing to do in any Italian town…eat! I think you couldn’t go wrong doing either of those things here! If you have more time though and you’re looking for a little more culture then check out - La Chiesa di San Donato. This happy looking church with it’s rosy facade sits in the main piazza and you won’t be able to miss it. There is also an attached bell tower to take your eyes up towards the sky for a min. There are two museums in town. The Museo Geologico e delle Frane (link to website with museum and town info below) is on the main piazza and then there is a small Etruscan cave museum…the entrance fee is only 1 euro and is past the piazza on the main street that runs through the town. If you head all the way to the other end of the town from the entrance there is a garden called Giardino del Poeta (Poet’s Garden) We didn’t end up going here because we came across it at the end of our visit and didn’t have the time. There was a small entrance fee but it looked like it would be lovely to walk around. You would also get a front row seat to the spectacular view on this side. Last but not least there are souvenir shops here too of course….no touristy little town would be complete without them..…so stop in a get yourself something nice or cute or cheesy…whatever suits your fancy!
Dining - We may not have had a choice in where we were able to eat on our visit but most likely that will not be the case for you. There are quite a few restaurant choices. I would recommend taking a look on TripAdviser before you visit to check out the options as well as open times. The operating hours of many places may change quite a bit depending on the day on season that you visit. Make sure in your search that the restaurant says Civita di Bagnoregio and not just Bagnoregio as that is the town at the base of Civita that you drive through and park at. We happily and thankfully had our wine and snacks at Bar da Peppone sulla Piazza. They only have 2 1/2 stars on TripAdviser but they get 5 stars from me for being the only place open late on a quiet cold rainy day in March. Buon Appetito!
Places to stay - I think it would be amazing to stay here! How peaceful and magical and what a view to wake up and have your morning coffee to! There are a lot places to stay in Civita. I spent a few minutes on Google Maps and on Airbnb.com and was blown away by all the beautiful options. Make sure to read your reviews and check your locations well so that you actually stay in Civita and not the surrounding area (unless that is your wish of course) and also make sure to ask your hotel or host about that special parking lot :)
Time - If you are just wanting to look around I would give yourself at least 3 hours. If you plan to have lunch or maybe look at the museum then I would give a good 5 - 6 hours. Civita di Bagnoregio can happily be seen in a half day or day trip. In your planning don’t forget that there is some walking time to get up and down the hill.