I saw a photo of this place in some list of fairy-tale locations in Italy, and put it among the planned highlights of the first leg of the trip (B.R. meaning Before Rome). We arrived in the afternoon just as the golden sun started to dip west. I believe the people who developed the settlement (ranging from the Etruscans 2,500 years ago to the most recent residents, only a few of whom remain living in the village) were well aware of what a spectacular position they had.
It rises high above the deep green valley, like a golden mirage – but how long? The fact is that the town is barely hanging on the cliffs it is built on, with bits and pieces dropping off the precipice. The original road has crumbled away, and the only way to reach it now is a (hideous) footbridge on tall columns (another test for my vertigo). Uphill, of course.
Apart from the few people who cling on to their town, the only other inhabitants are a large colony of cats. They seems to have taken over, appearing from every corner or relaxing in a way that really shows us visitors who is in charge.
Despite being virtually abandoned, the place seems quite lively. Because of its popularity as a tourist destinations, quite a few small shops, cafes and restaurants have been set up (in the safe central parts of the village). Also, somebody is clearly taking care of the many colourful flowers and plants for which Umbria in general is famous.
And we even saw some people on the balcony of a house they had obviously rented for a holiday! Our B&B in Bagnoregio proper is incredibly charming, but next time I want to stay on the cliff too!
Walking away from Civita, glowing golden in the setting sun, I can’t help but wonder how much longer it will be there. The erosion is unstoppable and not even the cats can save it from falling into the abyss sooner or later. But I will doubtless see it again before that happens.