Barga is one of the most beautiful medieval villages in Tuscany. The town has remained virtually unchanged throughout time, with narrow winding alleyways, old churches and an imposing castle standing sentry on a hill.
Barga is located about 22 miles north of Lucca, Italy. The back-country road that will take you to this atmospheric town may not look promising, but wait until you get to this medieval enclave and you no doubt will give yourself a congratulatory pat on the back.
Thanks to Barga’s out of the way location, you will not find bus loads of tourists crowding around its cobblestone streets. Wander around and enjoy the picturesque view of the surrounding countryside and the towering Apuan Alps at the distance while keeping an eye for delightful surprises along the way.
A short train ride from Lucca is the best way to reach Barga. If you are coming from another city in Tuscany, you might want to consider taking the bus to avoid changing trains several times to get there. However, considering that Tuscany makes for one memorable road trip, driving a car rental is always a good idea.
Head straight away to Barga’s ancient walls where most of the town’s attractions are located. At the distance, you will experience a charming landscape of russet roofs and rustic structures peppered with green patches of trees. Once you get there, it is all medieval atmosphere, with its narrow winding alleyways, old churches and an imposing castle standing sentry on a hill.
The ancient castle of Barga is difficult to ignore. It looms over the historic centre like a king watching over its subjects. The castle is in good shape despite its age and well worth a visit. It is also a strategic place to take in the spectacular panoramic view of the town and the scenic countryside.
Check out the town’s ancient gates of Porta Reale, Porta Borgo and Porta Machhiaia. These are small openings into the massive ancient walls of Barga. Walk through these gates – that are more like alleyways – and you will realize just how gigantic the town’s walls really are. The fact that they have been standing since the medieval times, make them even more fascinating.
Another popular attraction in the area is the magnificent Duomo. This Romanesque cathedral dates back to the 11th century and features an interesting limestone facade. Explore the cathedral’s interior and marvel at the elaborate wooden statue of St. Christoper and the ornate 12th-century pulpit. The cathedral’s campanile is also of interest, with its three bells – one of which is about 500 years old.
You should not miss a visit to the fare offered in small trattorias and restaurants you will pass by along the way in your exploration of Barga. Fast food is not an option here. Treat yourself to delicious slow home cooked meals that will keep your stomach full and your palate blissful.
Barga is also popular for its local produce and great shopping is waiting for you as you visit. There are several olive groves for the best quality olive oil, dairy farms for delectable cheeses and vineyards for the best bottles of wines.
Finally, the surrounding countryside is a hiker’s haven. Follow the trails and treat yourself to spectacular natural scenery along the way as you discover Barga’s outer areas.