A day trip to Barga

Have you ever heard about Barga? If not, hop in your car and head over there now! The hidden gem of Barga is a medieval town nestled in the heart of the Serchio river valley, chief town of the “Media Valle” (mid valley) in the province of Lucca. This place is really delightful due to its location in the Tuscan-Apennine hills at 410 metres above sea level and the fact that it is dominated by the Pania della Croce, a mountain in the Apuan Alps. Due to its historical, artistic and tourist importance, Barga has received several awards such as "One of the Most Beautiful Villages in Italy", "Orange Flag Touring Club" and "Cittaslow", leading standards for the tourist industry.
Barga [Photo Credits: BlueMaury]
Barga [Photo Credits: BlueMaury]
Barga is a town of ancient traditions, dating back to the Longobard era of the early Middle Ages (6th-8th centuries) as seen by the plan of the town that has remained more or less the same since those times, with little streets running between the irregular buildings like a spider’s web. In the Middle Ages, Lucca and Pisa battled frequently to conquer the flourishing town and the surrounding territory. Florentines also fought for the dominion of Barga and later it passed into the hands of the Duchy and Grand Duchy of Tuscany.
B/w Barga [Photo Credits: Raniero Corsetti Giusti di Ripalunga]
B/w Barga [Photo Credits: Raniero Corsetti Giusti di Ripalunga]
Main sights
  • The castle: The castle is still intact and has been beautifully restored. It is situated at a height of 410 metres on a spur of rock and is protected by a city wall punctuated by three gateways: Porta Reale, Porta Macchiaia and Porta di Borgo. In past centuries, it was also used as private residence.
  • The Duomo: Barga’s cathedral is situated in Piazza Ser Barghesano and it was built between the 11th and the 16th centuries. It is the main example of Romanesque architecture in the Serchio Valley. It is built in local limestone, as you can see in some part of the façade. A large wooden statue of St. Christopher, the town’s patron saint, is inside the cathedral. There is also a 12th-century pulpit with four red marble columns. 
    Barga's cathedral [Photo Credits: giovanni_novara]
    Barga's cathedral [Photo Credits: giovanni_novara]
  • The conservatory of S. Elisabetta: It is an ancient monastery of the religious order of the “Clarisse”, founded in the 15th century and transformed in 1788 by Pietro Leopoldo, Grand Duke of Tuscany, into a conservatory for educating girls. The interior deserves a visit not only for the spacious cloister but also for the altarpiece from the Della Robbia school in the nuns’ church and a 15th-century cross.
  • Arringo: The Arringo is the large lawn between the Duomo and the Praetorian Palace, where the people used to meet in parliament. On each side of the square you can observe the magnificent landscape surrounding Barga.
  • Loggia del Podestà: It is a 14th-century civic building. Inside there’s the audience hall and, below, the old prisons. On the outer wall, the units of measurement of past times are still visible. Today it houses the civic museums.
  • Church of San Francesco: The construction of the church began in 1471 and ended around 1490. The church offers several glazed terracotta works and many works by Andrea della Robbia and his sons. At the entrance, a 15th-century cloister marks the entry of the church.
  • The Teatro dei Differenti (the theatre of the different): It is Barga’s main theatre packed with tradition. The building was constructed in 1668 and operated until 1785, when the Duke deemed it too small, so in the 1800s a new building was constructed on top of the old one. Today, it still sets the scene for the theatre world.
Panorama [Photo Credits: Adrian Fagg]
Panorama [Photo Credits: Adrian Fagg]
Events
  • Second-hand and antiques fair: Every second Sunday of the month, from 8am onwards, the historic centre of Barga hosts around 60 stands filled with antique objects.
  • Barga Jazz Festival: Established in 1986, Barga Jazz Festival focuses on original scores and musical arrangements for jazz orchestra. It is held in mid-August. Website
  • Opera Barga Festival: An annual international opera festival held in Barga
  • Cena in Vignola: A “sagra” in the vineyard below the Duomo
  • Sagra del pesce e patate: The fish and chips sagra in celebration of the Barga/Scottish connection
Curiosities
  • iBarga: It is an application for iPhone and iPad for detailed information about historical buildings, monuments and works of art in the town.
  • The town of Barga won the title of “the most Scottish town in Italy” because of the large number of migrants from Scotland in the early 20th century.
  • The Italian poet Giovanni Pascoli spent a long time in Castelvecchio Pascoli, a “frazione” (hamlet) of Barga. In this town you can still find the Casa Museo Pascoli and he is buried in the adjoining chapel.
 
A street of Barga [Photo Credits: jojo 77]
A street of Barga [Photo Credits: jojo 77]
How to reach it Barga lies 35 km north of Lucca and it is part of this province. By train The closest train station is 5km from the town (in Gallicano). There are trains from most of the major towns in the province of Lucca and from Pisa; from the other Tuscan towns you might have to change two or more trains to reach the town. By bus There is a direct service by Lazzi Company from Pisa Centrale to Lucca (Piazza Verdi) and from there direct to Barga (the stop is at the Fosso, just outside the medieval gates). By car The easiest way to reach Barga is by car, but you need to know that you cannot enter the town by car and you must park outside the main gateways. The best way to visit the centre of Barga is on foot.