Barga, one of the most beautiful hamlets in Italy
Among the most beautiful hamlets in Italy, Barga is one of the most important town in the province of Lucca. Since the Middle Ages Barga has been a thriving productive center with an important textile manufacture. The historical centre retained its medieval structure made of twisty roads that intersect at the foot of the Duomo (Cathedral).
Guide to Barga, things to visit:
- Porta Reale
- Conservatorio di Santa Elisabetta
- Palazzo Pretorio
- Museo Civico del Territorio di Barga
- Palazzo Comunale
- Loggia del Mercato
- Teatro dell’Accademia dei Differenti
- Chiesa di San Francesco
- Pieve di Santa Maria a Loppia
- House of Giovanni Pascoli
If you get to Barga by car, I suggest you to park in piazzale del Fosso, where is the monument to Antonio Mordini; walking along the city wall you can get one of the three city gates once opened into the defensive walls: Porta Reale (also known as Porta Mancianella). Of the other two gates, only one remains, Porta Macchiaia, because the last one, Porta di Borgo, was demolished in 1833.
Beyond the city gate take via del Pretorio and begin to discover the treasures held in the historic centre of Barga. Along this twisty road, there is the conservatorio di Santa Elisabetta, created in 1456 as cloistered convent and become conservatory in 1788; alongside the conservatory you can visit the chiesa di Santa Elisabetta thet inside preserves a big robbiana majolica and a fourteenth-century wooden cross.
Duomo, the Cathedral of Barga
Via del Pretorio reach the highest point of the hamlet, where is located the collegiata di San Cristoforo better known as the Duomo di Barga (Cathedral of Barga). The beautiful Duomo di Barga stands in an exceptional panoramic position that allows to observe all the surrounding area from the Garfagnana to the Alpi Apuane.
The Duomo was built in many phases between the 10th and the 16th centuries; in the construction was used the alberese stone coming from the local mines. The facade, that in the beginning was the flank of the first church, has a portal is framed between two columns with Lions and a lintel with a bas-relief representing a scene of grape harvest. Before you get in, pay attention also to the portal along the left flank and particularly to the bas-relief on the lintel attributed to the sculptor Biduino (12th century) ; it is a very interesting work representig the Miracolo dello “Scifo d’Oro” di San Nicola (a Miracle by Saint Nicholas).
Inside, the first work that catches the eye is the beautiful pulpit (12th century) located in the main nave, attributed to the Maestri Comacini. This small podium is sustained by four columns, two of which are supported by lions and one by the back of an old man. In a niche of the apse behind the high altar, is the polychrome wooden statue that represents San Cristoforo. Other artworks as the Ciborium of the Holy oils, a terracotta attributed to Andrea Della Robbia, are preserved inside the lateral chapels.
Palazzo Pretorio and Museo Civico del Territorio “Antonio Mordini”
The large space to the left of the Cathedral is called “Arringo“. This place was once very important in the public life of Barga because in the past people gathered here in the assembly. Even if it looks like a simple building, the palace at the end of the Arringo is the Palazzo Pretorio. Inside is hosted the Museo Civico del Territorio di Barga reconstructing the history of the territory since prehistoric times. The museum has an archaeological section dedicated to the paleontolgy in the Valley of the river Serchio; a second part of the museum is about the archeology of the territory of Barga and the third part is on the Medieval an Renaissence Art.
Opening hours: June – September 10.30-12.30and 14.30-17.30; during the other months it’s open only on reservation.
Tickets: regular 3 euro; reduced 2 euro; groups 1,50 euro; schools 0,50 euro
The ticket also includes the visit to the museum Casa Pascoli.
Coming back to the hamlet, move in direction of the main square of the centre: piazza del Comune. Here there are the loggia del Mercato and the renaissence Palazzo dei Pancrazi (also known as Palazzo Comunale). Near this monuments deserve our attention the chiesa del Santissimo Crocifisso, the Teatro dell’Accademia dei Differenti, the chiesa della Santissima Annunziata and the Palazzo Balduini.
Just outside the historical centre, in via dei Frati, we find the convent and the chiesa di San Francesco di Assisi. Founded in 16th century, the church preserves some artworks from the Della Robbia‘s school.
Things to visit around Barga
Not far from Barga I suggest to visit the ancient Pieve di Santa Maria a Loppia, an outstanding romanesque church documented since the 9th century, and the house of Giovanni Pascoli, who was one of the most important italian poets, located in Castelvecchio Pascoli.