Italy’s 'dying town' seeks UNESCO world heritage site status

Claiming the title “The Dying Town” may not sound like the best way to attract tourists but a small Italian village has learned to make a living from it – and now they want the status to back it.

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Centuries ago the town was much larger, but landslides, earthquakes and erosion have seen entire neighbourhoods collapse. Source: 1 NEWS

Civita, perched on the top of a cliff in the middle in the middle of a valley known as “badlands”, is now bidding to become a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Centuries ago, the town was much larger and connected to the surrounding area and settlements but landslides, earthquakes and erosion have reduced it dramatically, geologist Luca Costantini told Reuters.

“During three millennia, regressive erosion has practically reduced Civita to a nucleus, leaving the square and a few streets around it,” Costantini said.

The Civita that remains today is mostly from the Medieval period and measures roughly 150 metres by 90 metres, making it smaller than two football fields. The town's main square is about the size of a basketball court.

“Our motto is ‘resilience’ because Civita was founded by the Etruscans, passed through the Roman era and the entire medieval period to reach the present day,” said Luca Profili, 32, the mayor of Bagnoregio, of which Civita is a part.

“This place is so fragile,” he said.

The mayor’s spokesman, Roberto Pomi, said Italy submitted a heritage site proposal in January and expects UNESCO to decide in June next year.

UNESCO defines a World Heritage Site as one that has “special cultural or physical significance”.

The number of permanent residents fluctuates between 10 to 14 depending on the season. Before the pandemic Civita was a draw for tourists travelling between Rome and Florence.