This week, I’ve been chatting to the lovely bloggers behind Tourist By Chance. Valter and Giulia are an Italian couple, that met in Australia in 2012, and now live together in Rome, Italy. Valter is a Italo-Australian and Giulia is Italian from a small town called Anagni. In the three years together, they have been to Peru, France, Cyprus and now are finally settled in Italy. Their common passion for travel, brought them to the realisation that their own home country had so much to offer, and not just the big cities but the entire country. So they decided that it was time to explore Italy and share the useful information they gather on their travels, not relying on commercial guide books but speak directly with the locals for the best things to see and do.
Hi, guys! So, tell us about one of your discoveries in Italy…
It was a Sunday morning and we felt like going for a drive in our newly purchased Fiat 500. So we thought we would head to Orvieto and looking on the map, we just started looking at all the different towns in-between (as you can tell, planning is not our forte). After a bit more research we stumbled upon a few photos of an incredible little village called, Civita di Bagnoregio, found just north of Viterbo and South-west of Orvieto. And till here you are probably thinking – ok so a small village in Italy, there are plenty of those around. While that might be true, none are as unique and breathtakingly beautiful as Civita. Now picture a town (Civita), perched on a hill connected to the rest of the world only by a narrow footbridge, which in reality is the end of the neighbouring town, Bagnoregio! If that is not incredible enough, this small little village, with its 6 inhabitants and an incredible amount of cats, stands in the lunar landscape of the badlands. So not only is is beautiful, but it won’t be around forever, as it faces constant erosion of its volcanic rock. It is no surprise that it is nicknamed ‘The Dying City’.
That sounds incredible – I can’t believe it’s dying! So, how was the weather during your visit?
It was early March, the sun was out and the temperature was on the rise after a relatively cold winter. Considering that it had been raining for the past 3-4 days our expectations were not very high but we got lucky and had a sun filled day! We definitely recommend that people visit Italy even during February or March, also because central/south Italy still offers beautiful days of sunshine and there are not many people around.
What did you get up to?
After the hike from Bagnoregio to Civita (good thing we had comfortable shoes!), we started exploring this incredible village. We stepped inside the beautiful San Donato Church and proceeded to walking through this incredible medieval village. We reached the end to enjoy some more breathtaking views. We then proceeded to our delicious lunch at ‘Al Forno di Agnese’ which was recommended to us by Giovanni ‘L’uomo sulla bicicletta’ (more on him below). We enjoyed a cheese and cured meat platter of local products and the highly recommended, Pincinelle al Pistacchio (pincinelle pasta with a pistacchio pesto). All of this accompanied by a Montepulciano/Sangiovese blend from Sergio Mottura wines, of the Viterbo area. We then took a short walk to the main piazza of Civita, where we enjoyed a caffe and gelato, and enjoy the rest of this beautiful day.
Do you have a highlight from the trip?
Well we started with a few photos of the town of Bagnoregio and while taking photos of a small piazza, Giovanni ‘l’uomo sulla bicicletta’ (the man on the bike), as he is known by the locals, came to say hello. Thanks to our little chat, we discovered some local knowledge on Bagnoregio. Giovanni explained that in Piazza Cavour and the local Monastery, we used for the film La Strada, with Anthony Quinn! We thought we would take advantage of his local knowledge and asked him which restaurant/trattoria in Civita he recommended. He told us that ‘Al Forno di Agnese’ is a local favorite and so we took his advice and we were very glad we did!
Oh, I love getting a great tip from a local.Do you have any of your own recommendations?
While many ignore Bagnoregio altogether, we highly recommend people take some time to go to Piazza Cavour and enjoy the well maintained town centre. For those that have a passion for photography, take the time to walk to Civita from Bagnoregio (2.5km), you will love the small piazza’s, the views, and the small winding streets leading to the bridge.
Do you have any advice for anyone planning a trip to Civita di Bagnoregio?
If you are coming from Rome, then we do recommend that you go by car (approximately 2 hours), however, if you find yourself in Orvieto (Umbria), there is public transport available and it will take you no more than 40-50 minutes. In fact a bus from the Orvieto train station will take you directly to Bagnoregio, where you can take the small buss to the bridge connecting Civita (there is no way to get around the 1km walk across).
Now, lets get to know you a bit better! What’s your favourite travel read?
For those in love with Italy and know it well, or want to learn more about the local way of life, Valter really enjoyed Italian Ways: On and Off the Rails from Milan to Palermo by Tim Parks.
And lastly: what do you love most about travelling?
The excitement of exploring a new place, meeting new people, trying new food and wines, and really try delve into the local way of life as much as possible. Travelling offers such unique sensations and when done with a real passion to explore and discover, it can open up your mind to other cultures and people. Travelling is simply an amazing privilege and we are just thankful to live in a country that allows us to see so many different places.
NB – all images are owned by Valter and Giulia