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Trip Report BARGA AND THE GARFAGNANA: MY SMALL TASTE OF NORTHERN TUSCANY

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I usually do not write trip reports. And what I do write is certainly not as clever as some. But there is so little written here about this area that I decided to give it a shot.

Several months ago I asked your advice on a town or area to spend two days in Tuscany before I joined friends and family South of Pisa for a house party. Yorkshire suggested Barga. The town appealed to me because it is medieval, mostly pedestrian and it is a part of Tuscany I had never visited. Also, the food in the area of the Garfagnana seemed delicious.

I had some difficulty finding a great deal of information about the town. I then stumbled on the Barga news online, a website iBarga and a great book by Kerry Bell: BARGA TUSCANY. This was all I needed.

Because I was alone for this part of the trip I wanted to stay in the Centro. There are not a great deal of offerings in the medieval center. After I arrived I did see signs for zimmer posted here and there but these offerings never make it to the internet. I settled on the Acchiappasoogni B&B. This is a truly luxury choice (a splurge for me) in the heart of the town. I found out later that even Francesca (my tour guide) has an agritourismo, Al Benefizio. I might try that next time. After all she produces her own honey and olive oil.

I knew that there was no parking in the town(except small niches only for residents). The practical aspects of lugging suitcases around baffled me until a post on Trip Advisor from Bernie in Ireland answered my questions. Thanks Bernie.

I wondered about visiting the countryside and neighboring towns and thought to treat myself to my second splurge. I booked a private tour with Sapori e Saperi Adventures. I loved that they were able to design a tour just for me. This company is dedicated to the artisans of the area and what I was interested in was being taken to some of the small villages, learning something of the history of this tip of Tuscany and of course sampling the wonderful food offerings. I was not disappointed. Francesca whisked me about he countryside pointing out historical facts, taking me to a lovely tasting lunch at Vecchio Mulino in Castelnuovo de Garfagnana. We also visited the butcher Luigi Angelini in Pieve Foscana. They have been there since 1880. But the highlight of the tour was a visit to the cheese maker. She is a woman who is hands on in the production of her cheese. She milks the cows, goats and sheep. At 11:00 each day she begins the cheese making process in a very small room at the base of her house. She has a special way to mark the cheese (so she can tell them apart) and stores them in a built in cooler. Her husband takes them to the market. It was fascinating. I am of Italian descent and am very familiar with ricotta. But I learned that day that this product is not considered cheese. It is what is left over after the cheese is made.

Walking around Barga, the small streets lined with lovely stone houses was just the perfect start to my holiday. They have some wonderful restaurants and the people are so friendly. I love to see how the people living there are determined to maintain an area which has been populated for hundreds of years. The area surrounding Barga is dotted with small clusters of medieval houses and the views from them over the countryside and the mountains are worth the trip. You could eat your way through the Garfagnana and never want to stop. I haven't even touched on the connection with Scotland which is fascinating in itself.

If you find yourself with a couple of days in Tuscany and want to go to someplace different with only local tourists give Barga a try..

Please excuse any typos and also my grammar and punctuation skills can be lacking.

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