Just barely into the north of Italy, a medieval hill-town- nearly spilling over the edges of a cliff- sits waiting to be discovered by tourists and more local Italians alike. Its name is Bagnoregio, and it’s accessible only by the lone bridge you see in the photograph. It sits steeped in history in the Province of Viterbo, about halfway between Rome and Florence, waiting for you to visit.
Rather than the many Italian towns and villages that sprawl over gentle slopes, this town is built on a steep hill edged in stone. The lovely buildings resting on top of it look to be nearly carved out of the stone they’re built on from far away, ready to crumble over the side at a gust of wind.
I traveled here with family at the beginning of last winter. We made the hike up the narrow bridge as temperatures crept closer to freezing. The town is partially empty during the winter; most people don’t live here year round. The town itself is a maze of streets and hide-aways centered on a square, and a large church can be found on one end, light-filled and airy with sky high ceilings. As is necessary for any self-respecting Italian town, there was more than one restaurant selling pizza. In one gift shop, we met one of the few permanent residents fascinated us with her story of growing up there and going to school in a mixed-grade classroom.
More numerous than permanent human residents are feline ones. These tiny munchkin-like cats- much smaller than our own 14-pounders- littered the city. They scrambled up walls with ease, hid in bushes, and lounged outside of restaurants. According to a shopworker, the local young people have mostly taken responsibility for keeping them fed- though I’m sure they found more than the occasional mouse to sustain them.
There were also fragments of its past beyond the centuries-old buildings: a preserved well with coins at the bottom, crumbling stone lions guarding houses, and rooms housing historically accurate tools for your viewing pleasure.
While the town itself seems to be mostly empty of residents in the winter, I’m happy to see tourists visiting and appreciating its beauty. I’d reccomend a visit to anyone looking to be in the area or planning a visit to Italy, especially in the non-winter months when the city is likely more alive with residents.