LIFE/Hannah Williams: Comfortable Magic in Civita di Bagnoregio

civita di bagnoregio

I like Civita di Bagnoregio more than Rome. Walking across the bridge and up the hill people had warned me about I expected the cobblestone streets under the old arches, the towers above us imposing on the view of the apparently rare blue sky, and the quaint restaurants waiting for tourists to populate them, but what I found was something secret that flowed throughout the city like coffee through italians viens.

In a few hours in the dying town I took 300 pictures and saw 27 cats, which is even more shocking when you consider that the winter population is about 12 people. I was taken by the way the streets all met up with each other either on the literal edge of the city or near the dirt Piazza in the center, and I don’t think I have ever eaten anything quite like the ricotta gelato at L’Arco del Gusto. Even in winter the window boxes were spilling with flowers, despite the lack of permanent residence decoration was still paramount for Civita as it is in the rest of Italy. All of this lends itself to the true magnificence of the city; its cooperation with it’s own endangerment.

Civita just exists. It sits atop a mountain in the middle of other mountains, and in a world where people seem solely concerned with progression and forward movement the city itself has found a way to endure in pure comfort. It’s complacence is not one of laziness or abnegation of betterment, it’s one of acceptance. The magic of Civita is that even though it exists in a place where it could literally fall off the side of cliff at any given moment it has mastered the art of contentment.

There are hundreds, probably thousands, of places in Italy that can be considered magical. Rome, Viterbo, even Orvieto, have strong pulls of their own, but Civita’s magic is different because it’s not trying to be magical. I didn’t have to deal with any crowds or lines to see the sights, the cup of coffee I had was the standard price for a cappuccino outside tourist traps, and when I left I felt like I had gained something other than pretty pictures. In my life I’ve always been afraid of the idea of settling down, of getting comfortable, but as I walked through the labyrinth of Civita I learned a new appreciation for the idea of being still. Maybe it’s the way that the city isn’t actually safe on the cliff, or the fact that the mountain view around it reminded me of home, but the magic of Civita is, and will most likely continue to be, my favorite magic in Tuscia.

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My name is Hannah Williams, and I’m an American student from California and Colorado. Viterbo is a big city compared to my hometowns, and I love the language, food, and culture of the ancient community. I speak Spanish and am here to learn to speak Italian, as well as write, read, and understand the beauty of my favorite Romance language. I have worked for multiple magazines and newspapers through my home university, Humboldt State University, and I spend my days managing a band, studying words, and eating all the time.