Tuscia is one of those less traveled Italian destinations which offers to visitors an overwhelming array of breathtaking activities:
VISIT ENCHANTING AND ENIGMATIC ORVIETO and CIVITA DI BAGNOREGIO
Orvieto – “the Etruscan pearl”
UNESCO World Heritage Etruscan towns of Orvieto and Civita di Bagnoregio magical places to remember the most powerful and mysterious civilization of ancient Italy before the Romans.
This is a long journey into one of the most secluded, mysterious areas of Tuscany and Umbria. Located at the far bottom of the region, near the region of Lazio, It is reached directly by highway and very scenic country roads. After a 100 mile drive on the main highway of Italy, A1, the highway of the sun, we exit at Orvieto. This is our first stop. This pleasant city of 22.000 dates back to more than 2.700 years, being one of the early etruscan settlements.Like all of the towns we will visit today, it is built on very fragile tufo of volcanic rock. This city in particular is in a constant state of alarm as many of its buildings are at risk of disappearing as the rock on which they are built is crumbling down.
We will visit the most beautiful building in town, the Cathedral, which alone is worth the trip. This is one of the finest example of Gothic-local architecture. It was began in 1290 and was not completed until the 1600.It was built to enshrine the relics of the miracle of the nearby lake of Bolsena The main architect was the sienese, Lorenzo Maitani with help from other great ones (Andrea Pisano, Orcagna ) It’s facade is the most richly decorated, stylish of all of those in This part of the world. So you understand why the worries for the eventual crumbling down of this masterpiece are so intense. We will visit the inside of the cathedral, where we will admire the Signorelli’s chapel, a XVth century forefront to Michelangelo’s Last Judgment in the Sistine Chapel in Rome. Many studies reveal that the frescos in this chapel were of great help to the florentine super-human artist when getting inspiration for his masterpiece.
If you are a white wine lover maybe a stop at the local wine shop would be appreciated for a bottle of the local Orvieto, dry white wine.
History Civita di Bagnoregio – “the Dying Town”
Back on the road, it will be time to venture onto the fascinating country roads that will take us back in time to our second stop, Civita di Bagnoregio. The first impression you get is that of a town which is bravely hanging on to the cliff , and whose houses of the many different shapes seem to spring directly from the rock. Civita di Bagnoregio, perched on a rocky shale, the village of Tuscia fight constantly against the wiles of erosion, 50 stone houses, a cathedral, a few pedestrian only streets, everywhere meet the testimonies of its illustrious past.
It was founded by Etruscans over twenty-five hundred years ago but has seen its population dwindle to just fifteen residents over the course of the 20th century. Cività was the birthplace of Saint Bonaventure, who died in 1274. The location of his boyhood house has long since fallen off the edge of the cliff. At the end of the 17th century, the bishop and the municipal government were forced to move to Bagnoregio due to a major earthquake, accelerating the old town’s decline. At that time, the area was part of the Papal States. In the 19th century, Civita’s location was turning into an island and the pace of the erosion quickened as the layer of clay below the stone was reached in the area where today’s bridge is located. Bagnoregio continues as a small but prosperous town, while Civita became known as il paese che muore (in Italian: “the dying town”).
The town is noted for its striking position atop a plateau of friable volcanic tuff overlooking the Tiber river valley, in constant danger of destruction as its edges fall off, leaving the buildings built on the plateau to crumble. As of 2004, there are plans to reinforce the plateau with steel rods to prevent further geological damage. The city is also much admired for its architecture, some spanning several hundred years. Civita di Bagnoregio owes much of its unaltered condition to its relative isolation: the town was able to withstand most intrusions of modernity as well as the destruction brought by two world wars. The population today varies from about 12 people in winter to over 100 in the summer. The town was placed on the World Monuments Fund’s 2006 Watch List of the 100 Most Endangered Sites, due to the threats it faces from erosion and unregulated tourism.
TASTE AND SIP
Pecorino Romano cheese, the lamb Romano, the Tuscia oil or enjoying Susianella of Viterbo, a traditional sausage, whose production was historically tied to just the winter months from November to March
Legendary wines such as the one the very Pope chose for himself, the DOC white wine Est! Est! Est! or red Umbria IGT and Bianco from Orvieto