Civita di Bagnoregio: The Italian town that charges an entry fee

Civita di Bagnoregio, Italy (CNN) — It’s Saturday morning in Civita di Bagnoregio, and the locals are patrolling the medieval walls, eyeing the visitors as they make their way toward the village.

As the tourists get closer, they call out to the locals — who promptly flee.

This, one of the most picture-perfect villages in Italy, is no ordinary tourist destination. And these are no ordinary locals.

For starters, they’re cats — a colony of some 20 felines that comprise Civita’s main bloc of residents.

The feline population is padded out with just 12 human beings. (If you think that’s a small number, know that until October 2019 there were only 10.)

Civita’s other obvious rarity is its location: a slim bluff of land rearing up from the valley floor. It’s cut off from the nearest town, Bagnoregio, by a mini canyon. To reach Civita, visitors must cross a 366-meter pedestrian-only bridge, cantilevered over the void and rising steeply to meet the village walls. It could be custom-made for Instagram.

So far, so idyllic. But what makes Civita really unique is that it is perhaps Italy’s only destination to have deliberately created overtourism — and is using it to benefit the village.

civita di bagnoregio

The village used to be a town, but sections of it have fallen into the abyss due to erosion

Julia Buckley

The village that wants to live

They used to call Civita “la città che muore” or “the dying village.” Not least, geographically. This, in the far north of Lazio, two hours northwest of Rome, is the…

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