Bargiglio Tower

How to reach

Mount Bargiglio is located in the municipality of Borgo a Mozzano, specifically in the hamlet of Cune. Beyond the village is the Oratory of San Bartolomeo and from here, continuing along a beautiful woodland path (indicated), the panoramic peak crowned by the Tower.

History

The ruins of the Tower, or Rocca, of Bargiglio stand on the summit of the mountain of the same name at an altitude of 866 metres at the gateway to the Garfagnana and Media Valle del Serchio.

Once arrived here, it is clear why it has always been called the 'Eye of Lucca': the view is a 360 degree panorama and offers a perfect view from the peaks of the Apuan Alps, with the Pania di Corfino clearly visible, to the numerous castles and fortresses of the Garfagnana, such as the Castle of Castiglione and the Fortress of Mont'Alfonso. From here you can also dominate the entire Serchio Valley, from the walls of Barga and Coreglia Antelminelli to Bagni di Lucca and the many towns in the municipality of Pescaglia. And finally, in the distance to the south, the plain of Lucca and the Tyrrhenian coast.

The origin of the fortification dates back to an unknown period, probably erected by the Suffredinghi, one of the three potentates of Longobard origin that controlled the Serchio Valley and distinguished themselves for their tenacious resistance to the expansionism of the Commune of Lucca. It was composed of only one tower, used as a point of observation and control of the vast territory, of the road that passed a little further down and of the small community that lived in the hamlets surrounding the fortification and the ancient Romitorio di S. Bartolomeo.

Excavation campaigns conducted by the University of L'Aquila between 2003 and 2004 brought to light part of the wall structures buried by vegetation and collapsed. At least three building phases in which the fortress was formed have emerged. The rock outcrops and the steep rises on the plateau suggested that it had already been frequented by man. Were found sections of walls from the Middle Ages of the original tower, which had a quadrangular base.

Until the arrival of the Castruccio Castracani, its principal function, but certainly not the only one, remained that of a signal tower. Visual signals, by placing straw or other combustibles in metal baskets placed on the top of the tower (smoke by day and fire by night), as well as in later centuries gun or artillery shots, reached as far as the Tower of the Palazzo Pubblico of Lucca, which stood in the western part of today's Piazza Napoleone, the fulcrum of the city's sighting system and a fundamental means of communication during the period of wars between local Lords.

However, the Bargiglio Tower is mentioned officially for the first time only in a document dated 1339, which testifies to a victorious siege by the troops of Francesco Castracani and is described as a castle with a quadrangular base equipped with a tower and not as a simple isolated tower. Years later, his descendants, after having sold it to the Republic of Lucca, improperly re-appropriated the fortress, using it as a base for their raids. The castle was then recaptured by the armies of Lucca and the Elders of the Republic decided to destroy it to prevent other rebels from taking it over (c. 1372).

The fortress was reconstructed only in 1468 following a resolution of the General Council of Lucca, the surviving masonry was levelled and a fortification was erected on top of it, consisting of two distinct buildings erected in two phases, recognisable in the tower and the keep that incorporates it. The tower had a wooden floor, recognisable by the sequence of circular holes in the masonry. A low arched window remains visible today, which originally allowed a view of the castle of Castiglione Garfagnana. The tower was followed, perhaps in the mid-16th century, by the construction of the keep that enclosed the windows to the east and north; later, the base of the tower was equipped with some external scarped walls and the cistern well was built that ensured a water supply for the soldiers who lived there.

The advent of gunpowder changed the defensive strategy of the Republic of Lucca, and only the most important towers were maintained and reinforced. In 1584, works to consolidate the Bargiglio were entrusted to Vincenzo Civitali. Until the Second War of Garfagnana ended in 1618, the tower was kept in operation. Thereafter, it suffered a slow decay. In 1801, the Bargiglio garrison was definitively discharged, resulting in the abandonment and degradation of the entire complex. The advent of Napoleon in 1805 rendered it almost useless and it slowly collapsed.

In 2016, it underwent a major conservative restoration of the masonry, during which a metal platform was also inserted into the remains of the tower to allow everyone to admire the panorama that stretches from the Plain of Lucca to the sea. And if there were still any doubts, understand why this tower has always been known as the Eye of Lucca!

More info & notes

A drone flight over Mount Bargiglio