Barga is a medieval Tuscan city near the center of Italy, with a total of around 10,000 inhabitants. It is the chief town of mid valley of the Serchio, in the province of Lucca. Barga is situated 35km north of the city of Lucca, which is the Provincial capital.
History and main sights
Founded by the Lombards, the city grew as a castle surrounded by a line of walls, of which two gates (Porta Reale and Porta Macchiaia) have survived. The town was well known during the Middle Ages for the manufacture of silk threads which were exported to major centres such as Florence, its mills powered by the hydraulic power of the nearby creeks. In the Middle Ages, Lucca and Pisa battled frequently to conquer the wealthy town and the surrounding territory, and for a time Barga was part of the Florentine dominion, later Duchy and Grand Duchy of Tuscany. In 1847 it became part of the Duchy of Lucca, maintaining a certain degree of autonomy, until it became part of the Kingdom of Italy in 1861.
Other sights include:
* The Duomo (cathedral) (11th-16th centuries), the main example of Romanesque art in the Serchio Valley. Of the original church, built in local limestone, parts of the faÃ§ade remain. The interior has a nave and two aisles. It houses a great (3.5 m) wooden statue of St. Christopher, patron of the city. Also noteworthy is the pulpit (12th century), designed by Guido Bigarelli da Como, with four red marble columns resting on lion sculptures. The campanile contains three bells, the oldest of which dates to the 16th century.
* The church of the St. Crucifix, the most ancient of the city, rebuilt in the 15th century.
* The Baroque church of SS. Annunziata (1595).
* The fraction of Sommocolonia has an interesting Rocca (castle).
There is an annual international opera festival, called “Operabarga”, and a long running and very successful jazz festival, “Bargajazz“. Recently, Barga has become the home of many painters, including John Bellany who exhibit their work in some of the small galleries within the castle walls. Barga is often known as “The Most Scottish Town in Italy” due to the thousands of emigrants who left this area in the last century during the famine to start a new life in Scotland. Many made their fortunes in the fish and chips and ice cream businesses and return each summer to their home city.
The “Sagra” is a feature of Tuscan rural culture; communal meals for several hundred people, eaten in the open air, often in orchards, vineyards or sports grounds. Originally religious celebrations, they are now often used to raise funds for local causes. Each town and village will have its own peculiar sagra: Around Barga from July to September it is possible to participate in a Sagra every night. In Barga itself there is the “Cena in Vignola” in the vineyard below the Duomo, and in August the “Sagra delle pesce e Patate” (Fish and Chips) in celebration of the Barga/Scottish connection. At nearby San Pietro in Campo, there is the “Sagra del Maiale” (Pork) and at Filecchio the “Sagra della Polenta e Ucelli” (originally small wild birds, now pheasant)
The Italian Touring Club has recently assigned the “orange flag” of the “Migliori borghi d’Italia” (“Best Villages of Italy”), a distinguished sign recognizing the peculiarity of its beauty and of its quality. Barga has also been, since 1999, the home of the “European Gnome Sanctuary” run by the Garden Gnome Liberation Front.
Barga is the home town of the family of Paolo Nutini (born 9 January 1987) the Scottish singer/songwriter. On 24 July 2007, Paolo was awarded The Golden St. Christopher medal, the highest honour the city can give, to celebrate his extraordinary contributions to Barga and its people. – source – Wikipedia