Civita di Bagnoregio
Civita di Bagnoregio is one of the most beautiful villages in Italy, a wonderful ancient village perched on a cliff, from which it dominates the wonderful views of Tuscia Laziale.
The rock on which it stands, however, has been subject, for centuries, to erosion due to atmospheric phenomena, this erosion has resulted in a progressive abandonment of the town, towards the nearby villages, and today Civita di Bagnoregio is also nicknamed The City that Dies. In fact, it can only be accessed on foot, crossing a concrete bridge that connects it to nearby Bagnoregio.
Perhaps due to the difficulty in being reached, the city has kept its medieval and Renaissance appearance unaltered and today it is one of the most fascinating places in Italy, famous throughout the world for its history and beauty.
However, still today there are delightful restaurants in the streets of the village, and splendid houses with panoramic terraces, some inhabited all year round by a few residents.
What to see in Civita di Bagnoregio
Church of San Donato: dating back to the 7th century, the church was built on a pre-existing building, built in Roman times. The original construction was of the basilica type, with an external portico. In 1511 the building was restored at the behest of Bishop Ferdinand of Castile, appointed governor of the city by Pope Alexander VI Borgia, the east wall was demolished and the choir and presbytery were built, and the walls and roofs of the two side naves were raised. Another important restoration work concerned the façade, which was rebuilt passing from the Romanesque to the Renaissance style. Inside the church there are some important works such as a wooden Crucifix from the Donatellian school, a fresco by Perugino and the sarcophagi with the relics of S. Vittoria Vergine and S. Ildebrando.
Porta di Santa Maria: it is the only gateway to the city of Civita di Bagnoregio. It was built by incorporating a pre-existing door, of Etruscan origin. Particular are the engravings in memory of the Golgotha Cross in Jerusalem, according to tradition made by pilgrims returning from the Holy Land, or by the Templars themselves. On the sides of the door you can see two bas-reliefs depicting a lion holding a human head between its paws, to celebrate the victory of the people in the revolt against the Monaldeschi family in 1457.
Church of San Bonaventura: according to tradition, San Bonaventura was born in Civita di Bagnoregio in 1221. Today only a votive niche remains of the house. The house was in fact abandoned after the earthquake of 1695.
Grotta di San Bonaventura: according to legend, the family of a seriously ill child turned to St. Francis invoking a miracle for his recovery. St. Francis then arrived in Civita di Bagnoregio and resided for a few days in a cave and it was inside this cave that the miraculous healing took place. Before leaving, St. Francis addressed the child saying Bona Ventura, to wish him to be cured. From that moment that child became Bonaventure for everyone – who later became the most famous character of the town, a famous philosopher, Minister General of the Franciscan Order and Magister Teologiae at the Sorbonne -.
History of Civita di Bagnoregio
The history of Civita di Bagnoregio begins in ancient times, there were settlements already at the time of the stone, as evidenced by some precious findings made in the area. Starting from the 6th century BC A first important inhabited center was founded, a town consisting of two blocks, delimited by cardi and decumani, around the town, the first necropolis stood, testifying to the deep bond in Etruscan culture, between the cities of the living and the cities of the dead. In the area of today’s Civita di Bagnoregio stood the acropolis, or upper city, where the forum and temples were located and it was the place of civil and religious life. The rest of the town, the one where the houses were located, expanded to the current Bagnoregio. Starting from the fourth century Civita di Bagnoregio, like all the territories of Etruria, was involved in the struggles between Etruscans and Romans, when the city of Velzna fell in 265 BC, Civita di Bagnoregio became part of the Roman Empire. At the fall of the Western Roman Empire, Civita di Bagnoregio suffered many looting and raids, first the Visigoths of Alaric in 410 and then the Ostrogoths of Theodato in the fifth century. During the Lombard period, the name of the city was given Balneum Regis, or the King’s Bath, according to tradition there was in fact a spring of thermal water that would have cured a Lombard king from an illness. At the end of the Lombard domination, Civita di Bagnoregio passed under the control of the Holy See and was administered by various lordships, one above all that of the Monaldeschi, who had some important fortifications built. In 1140 Civita became a Free Municipality. In 1221 his most illustrious personage was born in the town, St. Bonaventure, who was Minister General of the Franciscan Order from 1257, Magister Teologiae at the Sorbonne and one of the most important scholastic philosophers. At the beginning of the 16th century, Pope Alexander VI Borgia limited the power of the city by imposing a cardinal as governor, Ferdinand of Castile, starting a period of submission to the Church, which lasted until 1612.