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Civita di Bagnoregio, Italy

Civita di Bagnoregio

ITALY, MAR 12, (UITV): Bagnoregio means "royal bath," alluding to its importance as a thermal spa two millennia ago. The village of Civita di Bagnoregio is a dramatic sight crammed on top of a tufa bluff that has been banged by the wind and suffered regular landslides that continue to cause the village to slowly crumble away. The town fights against the odds to survive the elements and clings to its unlikely perch amidst an almost surreal landscape of clay formations and tufa erosions along the valley. It alternately looks eerie or enchanting, depending on the time of day, the play of sunlight or clouds, and the mist that frequently rolls in around it.

Access to Civita di Bagnoregio is pedestrian-only across a 300-meter long footbridge (985 feet), that deposits you into the cluster of medieval stone homes made of hewn stone that look like they grew out of the landscape naturally.

Porta Santa Maria doesn't seem too welcoming at first glance with its pair of carved lions that claw two human heads, but they're not a warning of what fate awaits you - they're the symbol of the locals' victory over the tyrants many centuries ago. Meander along via Santa Maria and arrive in the delightful piazza where the Romanesque church of San Donato houses a gorgeous wood crucifix dating to the 1500s and some fabulous frescoes. Wandering through the village you'll see some wonderful architecture spanning several hundred years of styles with some surprisingly elegant palazzi for such a small town. Renaissance-era buildings stand proudly along the narrow alleys, mixed with pretty townhouses, all decorated with hammered iron balconies, creeping ivy and overflowing flower boxes. All around the town you'll enjoy views galore from this lofty position. The town is well preserved in its antiquity thanks to its relative isolation, but tread lightly - Civita di Bagnoregio has been placed on the list of most endangered places.