Barga is a medieval town in the province of Lucca central Italy. It is home to around 10,000 people and is the chief town of the “Media Valle” (mid valley) of the Serchio River
Barga lies 35 km north of the provincial capital, Lucca. It is overlooked by the village of Albiano, a part of Barga, which in the 10th century was the site of a castle protecting the town.
Pania della Croce, a mountain of the Apuan Alps, dominates the surrounding chestnut trees, grape vines and olive groves.
Main sights include:
- Duomo (cathedral) (11th-16th centuries), the main example of Romanesque architecture in the Serchio Valley. Of the original church, built in local limestone, parts of the façade remain. The interior has a nave and two aisles. It houses a large (3.5 m) wooden statue of St. Christopher, patron of the city. The pulpit (12th century) was 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.
- Arringo, a large lawn between the Duomo and the Palazzo Pretorio
- Loggia del Podestà (14th century).
- Church of San Francesco, with several works by Andrea della Robbia
There is an annual international opera festival, called “Opera Barga Festival”, 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. The “Sagra” is a feature of Italian 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), at Filecchio the “Sagra della Polenta e Ucelli” (originally small wild birds, now pheasant), at Fornaci di Barga the “1°Maggio expo”.
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.
The frazione of Castelvecchio Pascoli was home to one of Italy’s 19th century poet Giovanni Pascoli.
In 2008 Barga became the first medieval historic centre in Italy to be mapped and equipped with QR codes (2D barcodes) for all of the churches, palazzo’s statues, restaurants, bars and places of interest. After a two-year trial, the project was released to the public in Dec 2010 under the name iBarga. Visitors can now get precise up to date information about the city on their mobile telephones and in 10 different languages.