Sunday, April 10, 2011

Hilltop Glory

For Paige and Julia's final day in Italy (and Mike and Katrina's first full day), we enjoyed a massive breakfast of cakes homemade by the owner of our B&B, drove to the parking lot at the base of the escalator to avoid the steep, uphill hike, wandered around Orvieto before grabbing a lunch to go, then headed off for Rome, with a planned, afternoon stop at Civita di Bagnoregio. Civita was not too far off our path, we had the time, and it sounded like such a unique sight. Driving through the countryside was relaxing for all of us, and allowed me time to gear up for driving in Rome (lots of anxiety there!). Arriving in the town of Bagnoregio, we followed all different directions - GPS, Rick Steves, we backtracked, we retraced, and after quite a few turnarounds, we finally found the road to the base of that long pedestrian bridge you see in the picture.

In the Middle Ages, this tiny town had over 4000 residents. Now, it's 12. Except in summertime - then the population explodes to 100. As you can see by the photo, it is quite literally filling the clifftop. Erosion already caused the loss of the former land bridge, which was stone atop a bed of clay. Today, erosion is a real danger for the buildings that make up the town. Three of us slowly made our way across the windy path, while Mike and Julia had a footrace to the top - I don't know who won as I was too busy taking scheduled pauses for gasping. Gathered at the top together, our group passed under the town's gateway arches, built by the Etruscans about 2500 years ago. Being off-season...and a population of 12...meant we were the only folks about - just us and all the cats roaming the place. There were a couple of tourist stores open, so we could peruse postcards and regional olive oil, and we spotted a warm looking restaurant that seemed to have patrons inside, so maybe it's just that we were the only ones hanging about in the wind and cold outside. Civita is a quick town to visit since there's only one road. We walked to the end of it, stopping to take a look at views over the countryside, watch cats perform amazing feats of nimbleness, ducked into the church for a look-see, and warmed up in the shops. A quick visit to one amazing place before continuing our road trip on to Rome for the night.

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