Saturday is market day in Pistoia, and preparations were in progress for a big blues festival.
This made it lively and fun when we visited, though it also made it difficult to get a good look at the major piazza in front of the marble duomo.
This was where fifteenth century metal workers invented the pistol, which took its name from the town.
And what a contribution to world culture! What would our modern film and television dramas be like without pistols? Imagine all those long scenes of cowboys, cops and robbers setting up muskets on steadying sticks.
Also notoriously, the town was the site of the kidnapping and eventual murder of prime minister Aldo Moro and several of his bodyguards by the Red Brigade in 1978.
People come to Barga to see the church, in particular the marble pulpit inside it.
The vantage point gives an excellent view of the surrounding countryside, across to the Apuan Alps.
Inside the wall the mediaeval centre has plenty of those stone steps and narrow streets we tourists love. We guess it’s not so great for residents who have just bought a new fridge or grand piano.
Barga hosts an international opera festival in the summer, though unfortunately we missed it.
We did however enjoy an excellent meal at l’Altana Restaurant.
BAGNI DI LUCCA
It was great to be able to call Bagni home for a week, and to have the lovely apartment of our blogging friend Debra (to see her website, click here) as a base for exploring the Garfagnana.
Bagni has long been a popular spa town for the Italian beautiful people, starting with the Etruscans and Romans who took the waters here.
Now it’s a charming village by the Lima River. It’s popular with expats, though not overrun by them. There are just enough visitors so that we didn’t need to be embarrassed about our halting Italian before lapsing back into English. No problemo – Bagni di Lucca locals are used to it.