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November 20, 2011

Autumn in Barga

Many of our visitors to Casa Verde head off for the great triumpherate Tuscan cities of Lucca, Florence and Pisa; all within an hours drive from Pescia.  However, there are some stunningly beautiful parts of our area that not all travellers manage to see.  One of these areas lies around 40 miles away from here over the hills and valleys of the lower Appennines to the Garfagnana and the Serchio valley.  The town of Barga is the jewel in its crown.  A lovely fairy tale place set on a hilly promontory overlooking the craggy marble magnificence of the Alpi Apuane hills, and topped by what I think is one of the most unique and glorious of Romanesque churches in Italy.

Winding your way up the steep streets of the town you may pop into an ice cream shop or a cafe and speak to someone in Italian but may also be surprised to find out that many of the locals speak perfect English with a distinctive Scottish accent.  This is a town twinned with East Lothian and through many quirks of history contains many Italians that grew up in and around the shipyards and steelworks of Glasgow and have returned to their homeland bringing many other ex-patriots with them.

At the top of the town, these winding streets open out into a wide piazza with an incredible all round view of the valley and town below.  This space in front of the Duomo of San Cristofero has a lovely open feel with welcoming semi-circular steps leading up to the romaneque door and the carved arched door of grapevines.  As you enter the building we were overwhelmed by the dark cool interior and at first the vast open space that was difficult to see.  As your eyes adjust (and you put in a 1 Euro piece for the lights) you see a magnificent colourful scene.  The great marbled layered romanesque arches, the wide clean communal knave and the beautiful stained glass windows, reflecting warm colours and spiritual  light into the church.  The upper windows of the knave are made of a fine thin marble sheet that allows light through, unique I think in any church in the world.

In the centre of  this vast space there are series of steps to a newer part of the church to seats that mark an area where perhaps the more wealthier members of the congregation were allowed, a church within a church, a community within a community.  The whole has a spiritual sense of unity in a unique space.  This is a place always worth a detour to.  There are lovely restaurants, shops and park walks that add to a great day out but Autumn is my favourite time of the year to visit the lovely town.

1 Comment »

  1. I’m glad you like Barga so much, look forward to seeing you here again!Love,
    Liz xx

    Comment by Liz — December 1, 2011 @ 5:35 pm

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