The charming and ancient hilltop town of Barga really is worth a visit
should you be in the Lucca area.
The town grew up around an ancient Lombard castle and was surrounded by a wall with three separate gates. Besieged at different times by both Pisa and Lucca, it eventually became part of the Florentine state and stayed so until 1859.
Barga's crowning glory, literally, is the Cathedral (above left). After you have trekked all the way up, relax a while on the paved terrace in front of the Duomo that offers a wonderful 'viewing platform' over the surrounding rooftops, terraced hills and distant mountains. (Click here for a view over the Cathedral and upper town).
Built over four periods, construction began in the tenth century. The pale travertine stone that forms the front (originally one of the sides) of the building is known as albarese di Barga and, during the period 1927-1939, for reinforcement, all of these blocks were removed, numbered and replaced. Inside the three naves of the church are divided by low walls of inlaid marble, the same stone as is used in the Prince's Chapel in the church of S.Lorenzo in Florence.
The most striking feature of the interior is the superb pulpit (above right - click here for a larger image). The pulpit is believed to have been designed and made by Guido Bigarelli of Como in the thirteenth century. Four columns of red marble hold up the rectangular pulpit. Two of these rest on lions, symbolising the strength of Christianity, with one lion holding down a dragon - the symbol of the spirit of evil - and the other a man, who with one hand caresses the lion and with the other stabs it - a symbol representing heretics. The two rear columns rest one on the back of a dwarf - representing the pagan world - the other on the floor.
The choir box is in a large alcove, with overhead the huge wooden statue of St. Christopher, which is believed to have been sculpted around the year 1000.
Click here for more information and more photographs of Barga.
SOME BARGA LINKS ...
Hotel & restaurant Alpino
Holiday apartments La Vignola