CIVITA DI BAGNOREGIO, VITERBO, ITALY – After an extended weekend bouncing between the lesser known hill towns in Tuscany, we headed back to Rome pleasantly exhausted. My friend turned to me and said, “There is one more stop we have to make.” I groaned. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to visit another hill town – I’d had the most amazing time the past few days, incredibly blown away by the places we had visited, the food we had enjoyed and the things we had seen – but I was drained. I didn’t know if I could physically handle or mentally appreciate another of the lovely rustic towns. My friend called the place “magical”, compared it to Hogwarts, and told me I would regret it if we didn’t go. Amused, I yielded.
We stopped in the city next to Civita di Bagnoregio, walked to the gate leading to the long path that would take us to the town, and passed through it. I immediately kicked myself for my resistance, for there in front of me was one of the most impressive views I could remember, even after the many sprawling vistas I’d experienced those past few days. Emerging from the valley was a solitary rock structure, topped with medieval buildings which blended perfectly with the colors of the earth around them. The rest of the valley was essentially empty save for some other strange rock formations rising from its floor, striking and strange and white. There were no other settlements as far as the eye could see. After a steep climb to reach its massive stone entrance (during which you wonder how they ever managed to get supplies – or build the town to begin with), we strolled through the ancient streets, enjoying the abundance of flowers decorating walls and gardens and the abundance of cats roaming the streets. The population is almost nonexistent. You can walk from one end of the town to the other in ten minutes. There is only one cathedral, and the piazza in front of it. The place was a joy, busy with life, warmly lit as the sun set.
My friend was right. It was something magical.