/ Barga Trip Planned
Off to Barga in Tuscany in October. Can anyone suggest some good cols/peaks on the road bike or any good MTB action?
You'll not be spoiled for choice - there are a few pro teams based in Lucca for a reason. I didn't have my bike when I went there, but there are people riding around there in polka dot jerseys who look like they earned them the hard way. Getting back up to Barga is steep and long enough in its own right, and any of the roads leaving the valley will give a good test of the depths of your soul. Along the valley, you'll be passed by small groups of very fast, flat-backed individuals in groups of three in matching kit. It's worth finding a local map (the map shop in Upton-on-Severn can help). Ferrari the doping doctor was also based in Lucca
Half the natives of Barga speak English with Scottish accents - it's twinned with East Kilbride and the Glasgow ice cream war protagonists were from the area, ditto Costa coffee and Paulo Nuttini. Post WW2, they all left in their scores for Chicago, Scotland and Australia. Don't be surprised to struggle through a restaurant booking in pidgin Italian and get a strong 'Aye' in return
Mega - cant wait ... Laddie!
I once spent a week in Tuscany with a Zimbabwean woman who I'd never met before; sadly we didn't gel but since I'd bought an out-and-back ticket I had to grin and bear it. I think I upset her best Italian male friend when I tried to complement his athletic build by saying he looked like a racing snake but my poor translation to "serpiente corriente" didn't somehow convey the subtlety and the joke fell flat.
If you look out from Barga, on the far hillside crest you will see a hole in the ridge - a big arch thing - good climbing up there, especially on the far side. The ride up there would be good value. There a a few good crags around - ditto the rides up to them. I have the guide book if you want to borrow it. And a map too, i expect
> Half the natives of Barga speak English with Scottish accents - it's twinned with East Kilbride
Wrong side of the country. Driving in to Barga for the first time ten or so years ago I was somewhat surprised to see a sign proudly proclaiming "Barga gemellata con East Lothian" - it made about as much sense as "Kendal twinned with Normandy" or some such out-of-scale mis-match. It turns out that Barga is actually twinned with Prestonpans, Longniddry, Port Seton and Cockenzie, not the whole of East Lothian.
That said, there are undoubtedly strong familial links between Barga and many parts of Scotland in and around the Central Belt, though. When we were there the Saltcoats Pipe Band was playing on a Saturday afternoon in one of the many small squares in the two centre, as part of the Festa delle Piazzette. The last night we were there one of the local football clubs held an open air fish supper party!
(East Kilbride is actually twinned with a place called Ballerup in Denmark: https://www.southlanarkshire.gov.uk/info/200168/getting_involved_in_your_community/621/town_twinning/2)
> If you look out from Barga, on the far hillside crest you will see a hole in the ridge - a big arch thing
Monte Forato, roughly WSW of Barga. We had an excellent view of it from the poolside terrace of our earthquake-proof* villa a short walk to the south of the town centre.
* According to the owner, who had also designed & built the place. Given that his certificate of professorship of civil engineering from one or other nearby university was hanging on the wall, we were inclined to take his word for it - while fervently hoping that we wouldn't have to put it to the test...
That's the place - well worth the walk up there.
Eight-year-old Griff Near has become one of the youngest people to climb the 15 highest mountains in Wales in under 24 hours. He's also one of the youngest we've ever interviewed!