On every trip to Italy, I step off the beaten path and find a town the guidebooks have overlooked. Barga is such a town. Follow the country road north out of Lucca for a 45-minute drive through the twisting Garfagnana hillsides. Awaiting you on the mountaintop is Barga.
You enter the town through a Medieval archway, and then stroll along the narrow winding passageways. The art and architecture that greet you make you feel as if you’ve stepped into a Renaissance poem. Unique among hilltop towns, Barga was once a stronghold of the wealthy and influential Medici family of Florence.
Imagine what stories are held in the stone pathways and structures. Ponder this as you sip espresso while overlooking the peaceful valley.
Worth the walk up several long stairways and pathways is the beautiful duomo, sitting high atop the town with its 360-degree view of the mountains and the Serchio River Valley.
In September, Barga can be a sleepy town after lunch, so visit in the mornings. Summertime brings art and jazz festivals and outdoor markets to this artsy town inhabited by locals, American ex-pats and Italian-Scottish artists.
Barga is a jewel of a town the guidebooks rarely mention. But now you know.