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One of the most beautiful hilltop hamlets of Italy.

Barga was mentioned for the first time in the 9th century as a fief of the Lombard family, Rolandinghi. In the 11th century, it obtained privileges, including tax exemptions, from Matilda of Canossa, Countess of Tuscany, but remained subordinate to Lucca. When Matilda died, she left all her properties, including the Serchio Valley, to the Church. This was not a popular decision and caused a war that was the first of a series of wars between Pisa and Lucca. The castle grew and was fortified with perimeter walls, of which two gates, Porta Reale and Porta Macchiaia are still standing. The town was well known during the Middle Ages for the production of silk thread, which was exported to major centers such as Florence.

As Lucca and Pisa continued to battle to conquer the wealthy town and surrounding territory, in the 14th century, Barga voluntarily became part of the Florentine dominion, later Duchy and Grand Duchy of Tuscany. In 1861, it became part of the Kingdom of Italy and in 1923, it, once again, became part of the province of Lucca.
The medieval layout is still visible: a few main streets which merge into picturesque piazzas flanked by elegant Renaissance palazzos. Small stepped alleyways and stone houses and buildings with flowering plants at windows and balconies offer many beautiful photo opportunities.

The visit includes:

Duomo San Cristoforo (11th – 16th centuries): this is the major example of Romanesque architecture in the Serchio Valley. It is faced in blocks of a local light-colored marble called ‘Alberese’. In the interior, there is a large medieval wooden statue of Saint Christopher, patron saint of the town. The superb pulpit (13th century), with four red marble columns resting on sculpted lions, was designed by Guido Bigarelli da Como, who also worked in Lucca. The oldest of the three bells of the bell tower dates to the 16th century.

Arringo, a large expanse of lawn between the Duomo and Palazzo Pretorio where town meetings would be held and where it is possible to admire a magnificent view of the valley and surrounding mountains.

Loggia del Podestà (14th century), which would accommodate commissioners and the various podestà (chief magistrates) sent to Barga from Florence. It served as a court house and also a prison.

Church of San Francesco houses several glazed terracotta works by Andrea della Robbia (15th – 16th century)

Palazzo Mordini and several noteworthy palazzos in Florentine Renaissance style.

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