With a population of only 20 people and access limited to a pedestrian footbridge, the Italian town of Cività di Bagnoregio is a unique destination and a stop I include frequently in Italy itineraries for travelers going between Rome and Tuscany. But it’s not a good fit for every traveler, so read my tips below. Photographer Joe Mack agreed to let me use his gorgeous photos, and I’ve also included some of his comments from his own trip to this stunning town.
As you can see in the photo above, the town of Cività di Bagnoregio is at the end of a footbridge, which is a quarter mile long and fairly steep towards the end. To get to the start of the footbridge from the parking lot, there are also some stairs.
From Joe: “The walk up the ramp towards the town was a bit of a challenge. It is approximately a quarter mile long and uphill. Halfway up the ramp, to our bad luck, a storm broke out. We did have an umbrella but the wind kept turning it inside out. So I’m holding the umbrella, a rolling suitcase and helping steady my wife in what felt like 40 mph winds. Needless to say we were soaked by the time we got to our B&B”.
If you are traveling with small children or people who cannot do stairs or who would have a problem walking up the ramp at the end of the footbridge, a better stop on the way between Tuscany and Rome might be the Bomarzo Monsters Park.
Cività di Bagnoregio is not the sort of place with lots of sights and things “to do”. Follow your nose. Get lost. Explore its small streets and just wander. Enjoy the atmosphere and the valley views. Have lunch. You could also visit the Cività di Bagnoregio Geological Museum, to understand how this town, perched atop a crumbling cliff of tufa limestone, can be saved.
From Joe: “The town is very small. A few B&Bs, a couple restaurants, one or two souvenir shops. I don’t think anyone needs to spend more than a few hours there, or at most stay one night.”
If you are looking for a stop between Tuscany and Rome where there is more to “do”, I recommend Orvieto.
It’s possible, but not easy, to take the train to Cività di Bagnoregio: take the train to Orvieto and then a bus to Cività. However a rental car is the best approach. Note that the town of Cività di Bagnoregio is different than the town of (just) Bagnoregio. Cività di Bagnoregio (you can refer to it as Cività) is about a mile from the town of Bagnoregio. From Bagnoregio, you’ll follow the signs out of town towards Cività, and end up in the parking lot where you’ll park your car. There’s a machine where you can pay for parking, then you’ll pay the town’s entrance fee, and walk across the bridge.
You will need to pre-pay the parking and leave the receipt on your dash so bring coins – 10 euros should be fine for a few hours. Cività is also the only town in Italy asking visitors to pay an entrance fee, but it’s just a few euros and goes towards the town’s much needed structural maintenance. If someone in your party wants to avoid the stairs from the parking lot to the footbridge, there’s a also shuttle that costs a few euros, although note that you still need to walk across the footbridge.
There are some good lunch options in Cività but if you arrive at the parking lot and see tour buses (Rick Steves loves this place and doesn’t keep it a secret!), you may have trouble finding somewhere for lunch once across the bridge, especially if you’d prefer outdoor seating on a nice day. There really are just a couple of restaurants and a couple of places to buy a sandwich, that’s about it – no hidden gems here! And, if you arrive at the Cività parking lot and find tour buses, you may want to skip a visit and spend a few hours in Orvieto or Viterbo instead.
This tip applies anytime you park a rental car anywhere in Italy, especially at any sort of unmanned parking lot. Car break-ins in Italy are extremely common, but thieves are opportunistic, meaning that if a car appears to be completely empty (even if it is not), they will leave it alone.
So before you arrive at the parking lot, put all of your luggage in the trunk of your car (and if you’re not driving a sedan pull the luggage cover closed). Do not leave anything on the seats — by that I mean do not leave out map, or even a sweater, and certainly not anything of value such as a GPS (or a GPS plug, indicating that the GPS is stored in the glove compartment). The Cività parking lot often has some sort of attendant so in theory that might deter potential thieves, but don’t rely on it. Anything that cannot be completely hidden inside your car’s trunk should be taken with you.
My travelers love this town, and with these tips, I hope you will too! I also included the footbridge in my posts about Italy’s best bridges.
About the photographer: Joe Mack has been a professional photographer since 1996 and says Cività di Bagnoregio is his all-time favorite place to photograph. Visit Joe’s website, I Want To Go There Photography, or his Facebook page for more.
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