Civita: 2,500-Year-Old “Dying City”

Located in Bagnoregion, Italy, Civita is one of Italy’s oldest and most beautiful towns. It is also one of the most popular as 700,000 people visit Civita every year. However, there are only 10 people who call the town their home.


Civita’s history goes back 2,500 years ago and to the Etruscan civilization which settled in Ancient Italy thousands of years ago. In those times, Civita, which probably had a different name, was a flourishing city. There were five gates to the city and a secret cave tunnel that allowed passage between the city and the badlands.

civita during the night

The location of Civita made it a highly defensive city as there were limited access points. Since the city was located in a highly volcanic area, there were hot springs which many believed were quite powerful in curing diseases. Moreover, when the Lombards took control of Civita, they called it the Bath of Kings as the King at the time healed his wounds through the hot springs.

civita bridge

The city enjoyed popularity for a long time until the 17th century. At that time, Civita began suffering highly strong earthquakes that forced people to move elsewhere. The erosion and landslides were so dense that the land near the city border reached very low levels.

civita inside the city

The nickname “the dying city” was given to Civita by the famous author Bonaventura Tecchi who was also a native of the town. He gave this name to his hometown because he feared that the erosions would destroy his house.

civita walls
Valentina Proietti Panzini

The decline of the city’s popularity continued after the earthquake in the late 17th century. More and more people left Civita to accommodate themselves somewhere safe. Even today, there are only a handful of people who are officially residents of the town.

the city houses

However, towards the 21st century, the Italian government began efforts to revive the city. They knew that Civita was a location that represented the history of the Italian people. The Etruscans, the Romans, and the Lombards all left their traces on the city landscape which made the town a place of high importance. In order to spark the interest of people from Italy and the world, the Italian government set up a fee to enter the city.

the old house in the city

This made Civita the only city in Italy where you need to pay a fee to enter. While the number of visitors was just 40,000 in the beginning, it reached 700,000 in the following years. Despite the continuous landslides that are still happening, Civita has become one of the most popular destinations for all in Italy.

the city from above