Civita di Bagnoregio
Civita was founded by Etruscans more than 2,500 years ago. Civita was the birthplace of Saint Bonaventure, who died in 1274. The location of his boyhood house has long since fallen off the edge of the cliff. By the 16th century, Civita was beginning to decline, becoming eclipsed by its former suburb Bagnoregio.
At the end of the 17th century, the bishop and the municipal government were forced to move to Bagnoregio because of a major earthquake that accelerated the old town's decline. At that time, the area was part of the Papal States. In the 19th century, Civita's location was turning into an island and the pace of the erosion quickened as the layer of clay below the stone was reached in the area where today's bridge is situated. Bagnoregio continues as a small but prosperous town, while Civita became known in Italian as La città che muore ("The Dying Town"). Civita has only recently been experiencing a tourist revival.
The town is noted for its striking position on top of a plateau of friable volcanic tuff overlooking the Tiber river valley. It is in constant danger of destruction as the edges of the plateau collapse due to erosion, leaving the buildings to crumble as their underlying support falls away. As of 2004[update], there were plans to reinforce the plateau with steel rods to prevent further geological damage.
The city is also much admired for its architecture spanning several hundred years. Civita di Bagnoregio owes much of its unaltered condition to its relative isolation; the town was able to withstand most intrusions of modernity as well as the destruction brought by two world wars. The population today varies from about 7 people in winter to more than 100 in summer.
The town was placed on the World Monuments Fund's 2006 Watch List of the 100 Most Endangered Sites, because of threats it faces from erosion and unregulated tourism.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Bagnoregio.|
- Civita di Bagnoregio travel guide from Wikivoyage
- Information website (in Italian)
- Photographs of Bagnoregio
- The Northwest Institute for Architecture and Urban Studies in Italy
- The crumbling, picture-perfect Italian town that’s making a comeback, 7-minute report on the PBS NewsHour broadcast of October 27, 2015