Founded over 2,500 years ago, Civita di Bagnoregio is now an endangered town. Through the course of the 20th-century, the town’s population has dwindled, with few residents left, making it, for all intents and purposes - a ghost town.
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Despite its stunning views and robust medieval masonry, the town’s location has proved to be its undoing. Local earthquakes and land erosion turned the town into an island throughout the 17th-century, and the locals started referring to it as il paese che muore (“the town that is dying”).
The cliffside-erosion caused several buildings to collapse down the hill, prompting many families to leave. By the year 2000, the town’s population was a mere six people.
Thanks to a recent revival, prompted by a tourism boom, the population doubled, with 12 residents living there during the winter and almost 100 during the summer months.
The town’s decline, as well as its location, spared it during two world wars, leaving the ancient architecture unharmed. This has contributed to the town’s popularity in recent years, as not many places in Europe remained as unchanged.
In 2004, plans to reinforce the hill with steel rods were made, to try and prevent further land erosion. In 2006, the World Monuments Fund put the little town on the watch list for the 100 Most Endangered Sites in the world.
The town’s demise may take centuries, or maybe as little as a few short years, but unless something changes, this ancient wonder may be lost to us forever…
Visit Civita di Bagnoregio in a charming video:
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