Sunday, July 31, 2011

Bagnoregio And Civita

It happens that people rave about a place and when one finally gets there it leaves one cold. Civita di Bagnoregio had that effect on us.

We arrived in the twin town of Bagnoregio and this sign banning dogs from the park didn't sit too well, "even if leashed." A harsh bunch I figured.

Civita has been around for 2500 years the archeologists tell us, apparently founded by Etruscans and built of the peculiar porous soft rock called "tufa" or tuff in English. Like this church in Bagnoregio.

We later discovered we could have driven the mile through the town but it was a pleasant enough walk to the bridge to Civita.

Across the valley I saw my ideal home, isolated with no neighbors.

At the end of our mile walk we came to to the start of the actual walk:

They call Civita the dying city not because of the cardiac arrest that one risks on this endless climb under the hot summer sun, but because the tufa on which the old city is built is crumbling. Indeed you will be sorry to hear the home of Saint Bonaventure (1274) has crumbled and fallen into the valley.

I found the outbound walk quite pleasant. Hot but pleasant...

Even though it was quite steep at the end...

...we found a way to overcome the heat.

It was rather fun sitting there drinking craft beers while watching the late arrivals stagger in under the main archway.

Civita is pretty enough if you like tufa which I don't very much as I find it rather dark and gloomy.

The town has all the right elements to look good, but it would only stand out in my view, if it wasn't located in the middle of a country packed with beautiful hill towns.

With just a dozen winter residents and a hundred or so summer residents, Civita's whole raison d'ĂȘtre is tourism.

It is not in any sense a properly lived in town for without us it would not exist at all. It used to be the seat of the diocese until the crumbling forced the Bishop out into neighboring Bagnoregio.

These eroding valleys will do for the city in the end if it can't be propped up and I doubt there is money enough to do that anymore even if there is the will.

We saw this trail bike parked at the old Bishop's residence and then we met it buzzing back across the bridge. This seems to be the way to go in the pedestrian city!

We had ice cream while we cooled off and waited for the shuttle bus back to the car. Glad we went, we feel no need to return, with apologies to guide book author Rick Steves who thinks this place is neater than sliced bread or canned beer.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

1 comment:

Chuck and the Pheebs said...

It's a perspective thing (re: impressions)...

To a tourist - alien, therefore enchanting.

To an English-educated, Italian born American dispatching polizia in a tourist town? You see it for what it object. Nothing else.

It has ceased to be real. Real people no longer live here; real people do not fill the streets with laughter and tears. It's a shell - a sarcophagus containing memories of another time.

Still - it's breathtaking to our North American eyes.