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The Serchio valley extends north-east of the city of Lucca, in Tuscany, toward the Appennines and the city of Modena in the Northern region of Emily. Situated between two rich areas – the Lucca plain and Versilia with its fashionable beaches and the marble quarries area of Carrara – it’s rather poor and kind of a backwater itself, since the new business routes bypassed it. Its steep hillsides and coldish climate are not especially suited to agriculture, and the great riches of Tuscany – oil and wine – don’t grow there. For these reasons, it remained “undeveloped” and now this is proving to be an advantage: the ancient villages are almost intact, the hills’ profile is not disfigured, and its produces – sheep cheese, honey, vegetables – are mostly done in a traditional way. Recently discovered by a less rich and maybe more culture-oriented British crowd than the ones buying mansions in Chianti, the summer events in the area features a curious mixture of high-level cultural events and “popular” fairs where the dominant televisive civilization became dominant (beauty contests, and the like).
Right in the middle of the Valley, Barga surveys it proudly from the top of its hill: not too high but still distinguished enough, and strategically positioned as a connection between the mountains on the north and the town in the plain. The ancient walled town is fairly intact and the visitor is spared, while arriving from the valley, the sight of the amorphous distribution of semi-detached and supemarkets and car dealers in the lowest and newest part of town. Dominated by its cathedral, whose tower was reshaped at the top by some Fascist architect who took out the terracotta roof putting in its place a series of incongrous, disproportioned merlons. If you want to know more about the town, visit the amazing www.barganews.com website: there’s the latest gossip from the bar besides articles by Frank Viviano, a famous journalist and author now living in Barga, about the 1944 battle near Barga between the Germans and the all black Buffalo USA division.