Slow Town?

July 13, 2009 / Places
barga1This northern Tuscan town is one of those places that defies definition of any sort. It is a (beautifuly kept) hill-top medieval town like many others, yet is as lively and modern as cities much larger. Its local population is fiercely tied to the area, yet there are more Barghigiani (Bar-ghee-jah-nee) throughout the world (Australia, USA, and mostly Scotland) than there are here. It has always done things ‘the old way’, yet tops the various contemporary Slow Food and Italian Touring Club charts.

Walking through the narrow carraie (cartways), you’ll re-live scenes of old… Piazza Angelio where the old gals sit and chat, Aristodemo’s Osteria (tavern), where clients regular and non sit for a glass of wine, a few anchovies and some local cheese (expect to be engaged in conversation). Of course, you cannot miss the amazing view and sunset from the little terrace of the Capretz (the local café), inspiration to more than a few famous poets and painters over the years.

barga2Speak to any Barghigiano anywhere in the world and they will mention the bells of the Duomo which marked work and rest time as well as the important moments in Barga’s life (births, weddings, celebrations, etc.) The older generations who left remember the bells from their childhood… and given the personality of the town it’s no surprise that the younger generations, children and grandchildren of those emigrants, return regularly to hear them in person.

Slow town indeed.

Editor’s post scriptum – If the above weren’t enough to convince you that Barga walks to a different tune, know that it is also the official European Gnome Sanctuary. You will find liberated garden gnomes blissfully enjoying weedwhacker-free retirement throughout the town’s parks, castle, town hall, and even the theater. All courtesy of course of MALAG, Movimento Autonomo per la Liberazione delle Anime da Giardino, (Italian splinter cell of the Garden Gnome Liberation Front). Natch.

– Contributed by Paola de Angelis and Paolo Caravacci, owner of, a furniture manufacturer with a store in Barga.

9 Responses to “Slow Town?”

  1. Yvonne

    Thank you for that note. I was supposed to stay in Barga for several days a couple years back, but, things got in the way. Now, I’m even more sad it didn’t happen. Hey, there’s always next time, eh?

  2. hebegb

    doggybag, thanks for the great links! Follow on twitter? @italiannotebook If you have content that you want to push about Barga, send it along!
    GB, ed.

  3. Claudia McCadden

    What a lovely town. I wish my town in Long Island was this peaceful. How I yearn for living this way.
    Thank you for this article. I am saving this for the pictures,so when I need a quiet time I will just take a look and relax.

  4. lewis murray

    a lovely place indeed….i recall that when i was consul in florence (what a super job) we used to go to barga for the opera….they had a summer voice school there, and gave little-known one or two act early l8th century operas….maybe even some from the l7th century…of course in italian….most enjoyable, especially with the drink and sausages during intermezzo…hope it is still going on…this was many years ago…

  5. gemma pieroni

    This was the ancestral village of my paternal grandparents. My own parents celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary with all the Italian relatives there…It was quite an unforgetable feast and reunion. My son and I will never forget it. %0 of us flew over from Chicago to Rome to begin the pilgrimage to barga for the 50th wedding anniversary. Please email any of you who would like to know more about me as well as my ancesters in barga. BTW…I am named after Santa Gemma Galgani in Lucca Italy. I welcome email from one and all. I am somewhat familiar with italy…3 tripds. I am a semi retired licensed clinical social worker Living in the Chicago area. I was born in USA. Gemma


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