“Places imagined in dreams, unreal, almost a mirage in an environment and a social context completely belonging to the third millennium.”

Paola Rubbi

Timeless villages. Villages that time has covered with silence and abandonment, and that today can be rediscovered with a particular emotion, as though we were reaching a virgin land, where we can only imagine what life was like in times long gone. Scattered on our peninsula are these villages - small and not so small - and there are no doubt quite a few, but there are two, in particular, so different from each other. They can be considered special places, imagined in dreams, unreal, almost a mirage in an environment and a social context completely belonging to the third millennium. Immersed in the compact and variegated greenery of the Appennine wood on that Emilia mountain, which is now Tuscan, in the community of Camugnano. Chiapporato is completely hidden, outside of the network of negociable roads by modern means. It is located at the end of a stone-covered pathway to be taken by foot or horse. The brook falling from the rugged stone walls constitutes the aqueduct of the village, and its sound is a companion. And then there is silence, because in this handful of abandoned almost crumbling homes only live two persons who communicate with the rest of the world with a CB, and who light up their evenings and nights with petroleum lanterns. Here, in the past, used to live a community of families, whose main activity was to make coal. It is still possible to recognize some places, in the middle of the woods, where these people used to transform with fire the wood into coal. And in the air would rise white spirals of smoke, the only sign of life. 

There are small pathways that have closed up between stone houses. These have sloping rooftops to let the snow slide, and small windows with thick shutters to better protect the homes from the wind and the cold. Luxuriant shrubs and bushes, sprouting from the windows by now without glass, are twining around incredible balconies of wrought iron, overflowing in front of unlocked doors, on stairs with short wooden and stone steps. Over there, incredibly large and imposing, given the modest and exiguous living area, is a church (that the Curia, however with a thousand difficulties, is restoring) and to its side is a cemetery invaded by wild flowers. There are no signs of consumerism here. The noise of silence accompanies anyone who, upon arriving, feels the need to touch the ancient walls. The rusty bars, the stones worn out by the drinking troughs, the stone benches leaning against the houses, leaning against the houses, wanting to make sure this is not a dream, this place is so real. Someone is returning, and coordinating retrieval work in the building, which belonged to the grandparents or great-grandparents. Chiapporato's timeless peace is about to be shattered?

The same sentence is without a question mark when it refers to the other village we want to tell you about: Civita di Bagnoregio in Viterbese. Until some years ago, it was called the Dying City because it had fallen in almost total abandonment. But, it now is reviving, consolidating and restoring work is being done to the buildings, and Italians as well as foreigners are becoming interested in this city and its extraordinary environment. To define this evocative village is to say little. Civita, essentially medieval and of the fifteenth century in structure, rises in a fantastic landscape of tuff with the shape of a frustum of cone, assailed by heaps of rocks. It is reachable exclusively by foot, by walking across a long bridge suspended over the ravines surrounding the plateau. At the end of the bridge, the silent village is accessed by passing through a medieval gate, which lets in on a narrow stone-covered street, where buildings of high architectural value, but in abandonment, are present.
Goths and Longobards have passed through here, destroying. Orvieto and Monaldeschi have fought a long time for these lands. Now in Civita, contrary to what is happening in Chiapporato, it is possible to find some rustic pubs, some displays of souvenirs, because - still contrary to the small Appennine village in Emilia - Civita enjoys a certain notoriety, and that is clear, in its unreal charm in this unreal sight, from the surrounding areas.

There is here too an important church flanked with a piazzetta, where it is said was the Foro in roman times: it is the church of S. Donato, dating back to the VIII-XI century. Rearranged and embellished with a wooden crucifix of Donatellian school. Small gardens are creeping on the walls of the village. Spontaneous hawthorn ornate lanes and rugged paths. In the piazza during summer nights, it is possible to dance, on the beaten earth, to the music of a violin and an accordion. Watermelon and wine from Castelli are placed on tables covered with paper tablecloths. Time is taking over Civita again.