Civita di Bagnoregio as seen from the Belvedere panoramic point

Can tourism save Italy’s ‘Dying Town’?

Like many rural villages in Italy, this 300 by 500-foot town was at risk of disappearing—until the world’s curiosity caught up to it.

The Italian village of Civita di Bagnoregio is disappearing. Every year, seven centimeters of land tumbles into the ravine below and only seven people still call the place home. However, one million tourists stopped by to see it in 2019.

Photograph by Camilla Ferrari

Along the road some 75 miles north of Rome, street signs signal to drivers that they’re approaching Civita di Bagnoregio, "The Dying Town.” Perched on a crumbling plateau, the village has been plagued by landslides, earthquakes, and erosion since humans first settled there nearly 4,000 years ago. These days Civita has been reduced to a mere 300 by 500 feet.

In the middle ages, the plateau was three times its current size and housed upwards of 3,000 people, says Luca Costantini, a local geologist, but the river coursing through the valley surrounding Civita has gradually disintegrated the town from the bottom up. After a devastating earthquake in 1695, most residents fled and Civita’s population never recovered. By the 1920s, only

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