Barga.. it is not easy to describe this enchanting place on the soft-rolling hills at the foot of the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines, that contemplates the spectacular view of the Apuan Alps and silently observes the Serchio river that flows from Garfagnana to Versilia. A protected atmosphere filled with sounds, fragrances and colours that revive the senses.
When you walk through the narrow streets of the Medieval town you are taken aback by enchanting hidden angles that seem to come out of a painting. When you turn the corner and go past a historical building you come face to face with the majestic Romanesque Cathedral that dominates the valley. When you look at it you it feel as if you are standing next to the poet Giovanni Pascoli while he is writing the famous poem "L'ora di Barga". The musicality of the bells brings you back to reality.
Sounds take over from this majestic sight as you are captured by the lyrical music that fill the streets (Opera Barga Festival and Bel Canto in Barga) and the rhythm of jazz music (Barga Jazz Festival), that brings international artists here. You then find yourself in front of the Teatro dei Differenti (built in 1795), the heart of Baga culture.
Fragrances in the air now predominate the senses when you find yourself surrounded by many places to eat and drink with characteristic Tuscan cotto floors, serena stone walls and chestnut wooden beams that naturally mingle with the flavours of the traditional Tuscan cuisine like farro soup, porcini mushrooms and the majestic "castagnaccio" and "Befana" biscuits all accompanied by excellent red Tuscan wine.
After this escalation of emotions, you come face to face with the spoken language, where in place of the classical Tuscan accent, you surprisingly hear spoken English or better to say Scottish as there is a very strong connection with Scotland. Emigration there started at the end of the 19th century, some came back, some remained and so you can feel this intertwining of brothers, parents and children two thousand kilometres apart. There is a strong sense of pride in those who have been successful abroad. Paolo Nutini, the famous Scottish-Barga singer comes back to Barga every summer and it is normal to bump into him in the streets and listen to him play at LiveInBarga, , like a cousin that lives far away who you see now and then but it feels as if he has always been here. (F.T.)