on top of a hill among the valleys formed by Chiaro and Torbido
streams, Civita appears clinged to the edge of a cliff where it
dominates the wide desolated valley made up of calanchi.
This isolation is the result of a continuous erosion that makes
the tufa rock becoming thinner and thinner on an unstable layer
of clay and sand altered by wind and rain.
when the town was founded by the Etruscans about 2.500 years ago,
because of the different geological configuration, it was not so
hard to get to Civita. During the Etruscan period, in fact, it was
an important city for its position along an ancient road connected
to a dense network of trade routes. Many traces of this population
come from the necropolis found in the rock beneath the belvedere
of San Francesco Vecchio.
cave of Saint Bonaventure, too, is supposed to be an Etruscan chamber
tomb transformed into a chapel during the Middle Ages.Saint
Bonaventure is one of
the most important figures of Civita,who,it is said, was miraculously
cured from a serious illness by St. Francis of Assisi.
the few available ancient documents, we know that Civita and Bagnoregio
were parts of the same city called Balneum Regis (the bath of the
king). This name was given by a Lombard king, Desiderious, as his
wounds were cured by the salutary waters of the hot springs present
in the area.
774, as the Lombards were defeated by the Franks, the city passed
under the Papal State. In 1140 Civita became a free Commune, after
a long series of feudal dominations. Among the feudal lords who
ruled the town it is worthy to mention the Monaldeschi who were
also lords of Orvieto.
relations between Civita and Orvieto were not always peaceful for
the many unsolved matters of boundaries and they were the cause
of frequent hostilities among the inhabitants of the two towns.
Furthermore, the Monaldeschi wanted to preserve their control over
Civita as a strategic place in the religious conflicts against Viterbo.
this control soon became a real dominion till 1457 when the people
rebelled, destroying the Fortress of Cervara (belonging to the Monaldeschi).
As a reminder of this victory, the sculptures of two lions grasping
human heads were put over the gate of Santa Maria.
1695 the beginning of Civita's decay was signed by a terrible earthquake
which, causing serious damages to the roads and buildings, compelled
many inhabitants to leave the city. The continuous sismic activities
that followed in the course of the centuries, brought a long series
of landslides; for this reason, Civita almost became completely
desolated. Today, in fact, only a very small number of people live
there who are determined to keep this little fragment of rock alive.
this drawing dated 1765 is represented the monastery of Saint Francis
that doesn't exist any longer and it was situated halfway between
Bagnoregio and Civita.
Civita is an enchanted place, where time seems to have stopped.
The complete absence of cars makes the atmosphere inside Civita
even more unreal.
landscape with snow is a wonder that nature offers just few days