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Polenta, baccalà, grappa and music

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as the nights draw in, the bells ringers of Barga enjoy themselves

The bell ringers of Barga, the Campanari, know one of two things about tradition …. after all they are ringing bells each week that are hundreds of years olds in a building which was first put up over 1000 years ago and it’s not just the musical tradition which interests and occupies them but also other forms of tradition.

 

Every Sunday without fail, the Campanari, the bell ringers of Barga, let the city know they are in residence as the three bells of the Duomo ring out over the whole valley.

The smallest bell in the Duomo is also the oldest, being cast in 1580, the largest in 1737. In the middle is the Mezzana which was cast in 1812 in the Bimbi foundry with a diameter of 114 cms and a height of 118cms.

This evening in Vignola, their home base at the foot of the Duomo in Barga Vecchia some of those traditions came together as the bell rings of Barga were in party mood.

Polenta, baccalà, grappa and music were all on the menu and enjoyed by all present.

What could be finer on a November evening than that fine tradition of a group of friends preparing food and sitting down to a table together to enjoy some simple fare along with some music, some talk, a good deal of singing and some strong grappa to finish the evening with ?

Polenta, baccalà, grappa and music were all on the menu and enjoyed by all present.

Polenta made with Formenton otto file, the 8-row maize of Garfagnana, locally also known as “Formentone” which was once widely cultivated throughout the valley, exclusively for use as food. Later it almost completely disappeared as a result of the depopulation of the mountain areas and the abandoning of crop farming. In recent times, the rediscovery and renewed popularity of typical and ancient products has convinced certain farmers of the region, who had continued to grow it, to devote special care to its cultivation, avoiding “contamination” with other varieties offering greater yield but inferior quality. This crop does not have a high yield, but boasts nutritional features which now distinguish it as an excellent maize for polenta.

Baccalà is made ​​from salted cod. Salting allows storage for a long time, and this has been used since ancient times to allow the transport and consumption of fish even in places far distant from were they were originally fished.

Grappa is an alcoholic beverage, a fragrant, grape-based pomace brandy of Italian origin that contains 35%–60% alcohol by volume (70 to 120 US proof)
Grappa is made by distilling the skins, pulp, seeds, and stems (i.e., the pomace) left over from winemaking after pressing the grapes. It was originally made to prevent waste by using these leftovers.

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