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Civita di Bagnoregio: Civita B&B

Phone: 0761.760016

Reviewed by: Patrick, Arkansas from USA, review #2623

When: June 2009

Ah well, what can I say. Like a night in a fairy tale. I could just picture a middle ages traveler coming up to this place and asking for a room for the night.

Civita B&B is in a beautiful old building in the heart of a dying town called Civita di Bagnoregio, near Viterbo, a couple of hours drive from Rome. The hill town has been slowly but steadily sliding into the valley below for centuries, and you can see remaining walls of houses, the rest of which slid off into the valley years ago. We were assured, however, that the demise of the town proceeds at a glacial pace and there there's no worry of cave-ins any time soon.

To get into the town, you park your car beneath the town and walk up a steep, narrow bridge about a quarter mile.

When you arrive at the town's central piazza and Civita B&B, it's easy to imagine that you've happened onto the place for a evening's rest during the middle ages. This B&B offers the only three hotel rooms in a town of about 20 residents.

Franco, the owner, was nowhere to be seen during our stay, but travel writer Rick Steves says Franco is a lively, entertaining host. It turns out Steves had been there for a visit just a month before we arrived. The walls of the B&B restaurant are covered with photos of Franco and Rick Steves and Rick's family. In each photo, Rick manages to display a copy of one of his guide books!

We got there about 5:30 p.m. and I guess Franco had gone home for the day. Instead, his daughter was there to half-way attend to us. She spent the night locked in a room across the hall from my room. Her English is barely passable and, try as we may, we could never get a smile out of her...perhaps because she's stuck working in a ghost town.

But as soon as we arrived (four of us...we took all three rooms for the night) she gave us three ice-cold liter bottles of water, and brought out a liter carafe of good red wine (Franco makes it himself). We had another liter with dinner. As best I could tell, we were not charged for the water or the wine.

The wine helps get you by the hard walk up to the town (it's a totally pedestrian town, except for a scooter or two) and the lack of night life. No TV in the rooms, but the next morning I did find one down in the B&B's restaurant.

Their dog Birillo (the only dog in town) was a great friend. He barked like crazy when I walked into the empty restaurant upon arrival and woke him up, but after that he and I were great friends.

We were served a great dinner by the owner's 20-something daughter and another girl of about the same age. No choice from a menu, we just took what she cooked us and it was delicious! After dinner I wandered the streets alone after dark (they're well lit), ran into a couple of cats and no people at all. There were lights on in a few of the houses, so somebody's there, but they apparently roll up the sidewalks at sundown.

The shower doors in my bathroom were barely hanging in place, but the bathroom seemed clean enough for an old boy scout like me. The room did have an electric fan on the dresser. It ran on a timer and you could set it to run up to two hours before it shuts itself off.

It was the quietest night of my 3 weeks in Italy, so I slept very well, except for a huge cat fight on the town square (right below my window) about 3 a.m.

Breakfast was miserable. A croissant in a plastic wrapper and a cup of cappuccino. But we still loved the town and the atmosphere of the B&B, and would be happy to stay there again, and recommend it to friends.

This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.

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