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Civita di Bagnoregio

“If I like it today, I’ll like it for ever”

Paolo Crepet

CIVITA IS A LIFE COACH

My first visit was at the beginning of winter. It was pouring with rain and the wind howled through the bridge beneath my feet. The place was totally deserted. I had never been anywhere where there was nothing except wet stone and the sound of the wind. “If I like it today, I’ll like it for ever” I thought as I struggled up the hill. At the last bend, the wind dropped, defeated by my tenacity, the rain shone on the path, making it look like silver. The squat houses, resting on their large rocky plinth, almost like yellowish armchairs, awaited me beyond the entrance arch.

If there is a word that suits this village in the sky it must “dignity”. Dignity of the history that has invaded it without destroying it altogether, dignity of Nature which has sculpted it, wounding its powerful sides, while sparing the crenellations of its curved rooves and the bell tower, straight as a lance. Dignity in its beauty which is never vulgar or opulent, but sharp like the ocre of this cluster of houses when the dawn breaks on them.

I fell in love with Civita; the sound of hushed footsteps, the strength of the wind when it sweeps down to rustle the chestnut trees in the valley and then blows up, fresh and cheeky, like it is only in winter.

You understand Civita when, of an evening, its shadows follow you like stealthy and agile cats, or when the mist fills the base of the calanques and the village rises up, as though resting on a cotton cloud. You understand it when, looking east, it reminds you of the prow of a transatlantic liner, emerging above the vineyards and the olive groves, history and travellers’ dreams in its wake.

Civita is a life coach: it teaches you that nothing good or beautiful comes easily, that you have to earn each step along the way, that there are times when it appears that everything is collapsing around you, but then you realise it’s only the fragments that loosen. Civita isn’t history revisited, it’s not a museum park or a group of renovated ruins; not past, rather future. Even here it has a lesson: respect, which is certainly due for what we have inherited, and which also has to be kept alive with the daring of our best creativity. Civita represents something that many people would like: an escape from the noise, the arrogance, the rudeness and incivility. Here everything comes together and it’s possible to plan a better future, one which doesn’t involve surrender or romanticnostalgia. Marguerite Jourcenar was right; when asked in which, of all the many wonderful places she had experienced, she would choose to live, she answered “New York and Civita di Bagnoregio”.

GALLERY

UNFORGETTABLE EXPERIENCES

The amazing beauty of an ancient hamlet

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