We left Orvieto late this morning, at 10:35, because we just couldn’t wake up! We felt discouraged because we knew rain was forecast for much of the day, and today was our last day in Italy. I think we were getting travel weary. I had been on the road since April 4, when I’d left for Morocco.
We ate breakfast in the Hotel Duomo: cappucino, blood orange juice, boiled egg, salami, and toast with blueberry jam.
Parts of our drive to Civita di Bagnoregio looked similar to the countryside west of where we live in Northern Virginia. We passed a beekeeping place with signs for Miele – Honey.
At Civita di Bagnoregio, we encountered the worst possible thing you can encounter when traveling: fog. Fog has ruined many a vacation for me, and it seems this happens in some of the most scenic places. We stopped at a cozy cafe, hoping that the fog would clear. It never did.
The 2,500-year-old village of Civita di Bagnoregio is a town about 120 kilometers (75 mi) north of Rome. Civita is one of the most beautiful villages in Italy, famously known as ‘the dying city.’ It perches on a pinnacle in a huge canyon. No traffic is allowed, and it is connected to the world via a long pedestrian bridge.
The town is noted for its striking position on top of a plateau of crumbling volcanic tuff, or volcanic ash, overlooking the Tiber river valley. It is in constant danger of destruction as the edges of the plateau collapse due to erosion, leaving the buildings to crumble as their underlying support falls away. As of 2004, there were plans to reinforce the plateau with steel rods to prevent further geological damage (Wikipedia).
Civita’s history goes back to the Etruscan and ancient Roman times. In the Middle Ages, Civita had a population of about 4,000. Following a 1695 earthquake, many of the residents left as they feared their houses would collapse into the valley below. Apparently the population today is only 11 hardy citizens. Civita’s architecture is still stuck in the Middle Ages.
We crossed the pedestrian bridge and entered the village through Porta Santa Maria, a 12th-century Romanesque arch. This was cut by the Etruscans 2,500 years ago, when the town was a stop on an ancient trading route.
The town church faces Civita’s main piazza. The church, with its campanile (bell tower), marks the spot where an Etruscan temple, and then a Roman temple, once stood. A cathedral until 1699, the church houses records of about 60 bishops dating back to the 17th century. Inside are Romanesque columns and arches in Baroque-era whitewash.
Leaving the church, we walked to the edge of town, passing eateries, olive presses, gardens, a rustic town museum, and valley views. According to Rick Steves: Best of Italy, “the rock below Civita is honeycombed with ancient tunnels, caverns (housing olive presses), cellars (for keeping wine at a constant temperature all year), and cisterns (for collecting rainwater, since there was no well in town). Many date from Etruscan times.”
We left Civita close to 1:00 and drove the rest of the way to Rome. We checked in at the Fiumicino Airport B&B Delux in Fiumicino, close to the airport, and then walked around the town, which ran along a waterway. We stopped into a restaurant for dinner.
Back at our Airbnb, as we prepared for our early morning flight home, we got a text from our youngest son (26) who had been struggling mightily. (His struggles have been perpetual). He asked if he could come home to live with us. He said he wanted to go to Massage Therapy School and get his life on track. We debated as to whether we should allow this as we had given him limitless opportunities to get his life on track, and he had let us, and himself, down every time. He had perfected the art of quitting everything meaningful he’d ever undertaken except for things that harmed him.
After much debate, we said we would allow it, but only under certain conditions. We made a long list of our requirements for him to move back in, and we sent it to him, telling him he would have to agree to meet our conditions in order to move back home. He agreed to the conditions, but I seriously doubted he would meet any of them.
*Thursday, May 9, 2019*