Barga in Tuscany

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Barga Tuscany

Barga Tuscany

The town of Barga is in the province of Lucca at 410 m. a.s.l. and has a population of about 10,000 inhabitants. The Teatro dei Differenti built in the XV century and the Dome of the XII century can be admired in Barga.

Starting from the debate on the origin of its name, the history of the territory can be traced back to its being a crossroads walked by many ancient people. In effect, researcher divide between an "Etruscan" theory that attributes the origin of town's name to the Lucio Barcoli, the "Lucumone" of Luni, and a "Punic" one. According to the latter the inhabitants of Bargena, in Tunisia, where those who gave the name to the land where they had decided to settle down once they arrived in Tuscany under guided by the Carthaginian leader Hannibal (III century b.C.). The archaeological finds, moreover, testify the presence of the Liguri Apuani, a pre Indo-European population that settled the mountains between Tuscany and Liguria before the Etruscans.
In the IX century, at the end of the time characterized by the Barbarian invasions, Barga was a centre ruled by the Lombard-Born Rolandinghi. Both the countess Matilde of Canossa and the emperor Frederick Barbarossa ceded remarkable benefits to the inhabitants. Yet, around the year 1000, the village became part of the dominions of the free town of Lucca. This was a time of harsh battles between the city and the church. The latter claimed that the lands of the Garfagnana were a patrimony the Countess Matilde bequeathed him before dying.
After the suppression of the bishopric of Lucca that the Pope had decided to punish the inhabitants of Lucca for their raids, the inhabitants of Barga tried to free from their dominion with the help of the Pisans. In 1326, after two years of siege and negotiations, the inhabitants of Lucca took the citadel back and it became the siege of one of the three vicariates of the Garfagnana and a remarkably important trade centre in the ford linking the territory of Modena to Versilia. Wool, silk, sheep cheese, cattle, honey and fish were traded in the markets of Barga.
Yet, the contrasts with Lucca did not stop. In 1298, the inhabitants of Lucca attacked and pillaged the town again to punish the tradesmen who avoided Lucca's duties by smuggling with the Florentines. Thus, many people left the area to settle in Florence as exiles. When Castruccio Castracani, a very feared leader, got the power in Lucca the smuggling definitively ended. Yet, the inhabitants of Barga submitted to Florence as soon as they could, namely after Castruccio died in 1328.
Barga was besieged twice more. The Pisans laid siege to it in the XIV century as well as Niccolò Piccinino's troops from Milan when headed towards Tuscany to fight against Florence. Whenever there was a war against this town, the town of Barga, which was famous for its unconditional loyalty to the "city of the Lily", was the first to be hit. Yet, it had never been pillaged and from the XV century on, it acquired a peaceful existence and numerous privileges. Among them, there were customs exemptions and contracts, in particular as far as gown powder was concerned, and this caused the construction of numerous factories in the area of Barga.

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