Our little, big, Barga (by M.Regoli & CB): La Garfagnana is a less renowned part of Tuscany. It’s a wide area of the Appennino, not far from Lucca, a town that I adore.
The Garfagnana is rich in small villages scattered along the woods. It’s a place that sends you back immediately to autumn, or winter, with roasted chestnuts, a cozy fireplace and warm woolly blankets on the shoulders. We happened to be in the area for a chocolate fair but, for us, this was only an excuse. We deeply love this part of Tuscany.
It took us around half an hour from Lucca to reach Barga, where it is easy to find a parking space, and we walked towards the city.
Perched on a steep hill that reaches the Duomo Cathedral, dedicated to San Cristoforo, Barga is a delightful town, and on the occasion, its roads were full of stalls – most of them displaying a wide variety of chocolate. We passed by the elegant Loggia dei Mercanti, and we slowly reached the Teatro dell’Accademia dei Differenti, founded in the 1700s. All around us we found hidden, surprising corners.
The upward road we followed went all the way to the Duomo that seemed to attract us like a giant magnet. After a set of stairs, we reached the square in front of the Duomo, protected by a row of impressive cypress trees.
The wide square has a beautiful view of both the town and the surrounding mountains.
The Duomo is dedicated to San Cristoforo. Inside, there are three naves and it is very simple, as Romanesque churches are. The naves are illuminated by numerous single-lancet windows, closed by alabaster panels allowing a beautiful golden light to filter through. The church contains a few precious treasures. One of these is the wonderful pulpit, carved with the Annunciazione, a Nativity. Behind the main altar is a large polychrome wooden statue of San Cristoforo. In the chapel to the right of the transept there is a large terracotta altarpiece representing the Madonna between San Sebastiano and San Rocco: unfinished work certainly by the Robbiana school.
Coming back to town, we discussed where to have lunch. The choice was simple, given the Chocolate Festival, huge inviting pots of polenta were cooked along the road by old happy local folks. We chat and laughed with them and, before leaving the village , of course we bought several varieties of chocolate and cakes from the many stalls. This is what we call “experiential travel”
Someone suggested taking a detour for Lucca… This, however, will be another story.