The Easter Holidays are approaching and it is time to plan your weekend getaway. If you feel like exploring new places which are not so well-known abroad, I assure you that these three gems won’t disappoint you. Not only the beautiful Rome and Florence, but much more is awaiting you.
Civita di Bagnoregio (Viterbo, Lazio)
Situated in the Calanchi Valley, Civita di Bagnoregio is known as «La città che muore» («The dying town»). This nickname is due to the fact that the town is on a tuff plateau which is shrinking because of erosion. That is why it is isolated and it is only possible to reach it on foot via a bridge that was built in 1965. The erosion and landslide problems date back to the Etruscan period. Currently, the town is inhabited by 12 people. Civita di Bagnoregio is also famous for being the birthplace of Saint Bonaventure.
The view of the town as it towers over the dry valley is breathtaking, as well as the small alleys which interlace inside the town. After having visited the town, you can also pay a visit to the nearby Lake Bolsena.
Castelluccio di Norcia (Perugia, Umbria)
Overlooking the Castelluccio plateau and within Monti Sibilini National Park, Castelluccio has around 150 inhabitants. It can get really crowded in June: in this period of the year your eyes will be sent into raptures by the colours of la fiorita, i.e. the ensemble of the wild flowers blossoming (especially daisies, poppies and cornflowers). It is also worth a visit in the winter, when you can take advantage of guided tours in the snow arranged by local enthusiasts.
On the plain you can also find a small gathering of trees made to form the distinctive ‘boot’ of Italy. Near Castelluccio, there is Monte Vettore, a great hiking spot. From its top, you can see the sea and also Lake Pilato. If you love legends, you can visit the cave of the Sibyl, a prophetess in Greek and Roman mythology.
Don’t forget to try typical products such as lentils, cheese, truffle and the unmissable coglioni di mulo (a type of cold cut whose name translates into «mule’s balls» because of its shape).
Pitigliano (Grosseto, Tuscany)
Built on a tuff cliff, Pitigliano was first inhabited by the Etruscans as testified by the remains and the necropolis. It is also known as «the little Jerusalem» because of the Jewish community living there. Beside the synagogue and the Jewish cemetery, the Jewish culture is also reflected in the cuisine. The typical dessert is lo sfratto, a pastry filled with honey, orange peel, walnut, anise and nutmeg. This small cake is the shape of a stick and reminds us of the fact that Jewish people were often beaten at the door with a stick because in the 17th century an edict forced them to leave their houses and move to the ghetto. The name itself of the cake, sfratto, means «eviction». The cuisine is also characterised by traditional products from the countryside and the farming environment such as olive oil, cheese, wine (especially Bianco di Pitigliano and Sovana) and pici (homemade pasta like thick spaghetti).
Nature, culture and good food: the perfect mix for your next holiday. Which other enchanting villages of Central Italy would you recommend? Let me know in the comments below!