If you visit a popular hilltown in Tuscany or Umbria, such as San Gimignano, Siena, or Assisi, you'll have a list of important sights to check out. You won't want to miss the famous museums and churches. You'll want to take pictures of those same views you see on postcards and in guidebooks. You'll walk through the piazzas shoulder-to-shoulder with other tourists, your eyes craned up at the towers or trained through the glass windows of souvenir shops. Don't get me wrong--these are all great places, and for good reason, and when I visit them I see and do the same things. But if you want to see a hilltown up close and personal, Civita will give you an entirely different experience.
Civita is tiny, perhaps two city blocks wide by three blocks deep. Walking briskly, you can cover it all in ten or fifteen minutes. Paradoxically, this means you must slow down to enjoy its special delights. There are no great museums or renowned cathedrals you must check off your to-do list, but this doesn't mean that there is nothing to see. Instead, saunter, dawdle, meander, look up and down and over gates and walls, and see what you can discover of the little things which mark out the slow life this place has known for centuries. The details of this town are worthy of your notice, and it's also easier to look at the little things here than in one of those bigger, busier hilltowns.
See if you can find the items pictured below (remember--it's a really small town!). Or see if you can find some modest treasures of your own. Tucked away in one corner of Civita is a house where St. Bonaventura spent some time. There's an ancient olive oil press. There’s a pair of wheels to a cart or wagon which has long since vanished. There’s a handprint in the cement of some child who is bones under the rock by now. Where is the most interesting door? The prettiest window? Who has the best garden? Find your own unforgettable view of Civita.