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The winter sun strikes the huge wooden statue of St. Christopher

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If the conditions are right and you are in the right place at the right time, it is possible twice a year, on the 11th – 12th November and the 30th – 31st January to see the doppio tramonto – the double sunset viewed from outside the Duomo in Barga Vecchia.

It does not happen every time as clouds often hide the sun at the last moment — just like this year (article here) but there is another natural event involving the sun which happens just a week or so after the double sunset, and that is just as spectacular and more often that not, totally ignored by most of the inhabitants or visitors to Barga .

If conditions are right as the sun passes through the open door of the Duomo, it shines right down to the far end and lights up the enormous wooden statue of the saint, which then glows in the darkened  space of the Cathedral.

The Duomo

The first construction was begun in the 10th Century, but this was followed by numerous additions, enlargements, restructurings and reconstructions right up until the first half of the 20th Century. The sum total of this work has created the magnificent cathedral that we see today and although wars and earthquakes have often threatened to destroy it, the people of Barga, with faith and good will, have always restored it and made it stronger and more beautiful. Throughout its history the voice of its bells has resounded from the bell tower across the valley and beyond.

During one of the restoration periods between 1927-1939, a plaque was mounted above the door leading to the bell tower, with the following inscription by Giovanni Pascoli:

“AT A TIME BEFORE THE YEAR 1000, WHEN THE PEOPLE OF BARGA WERE POOR AND LIVING ON ROAST CHESTNUTS THEY BUILT A DUOMO SAYING: IN MY HOUSE I HAVE TO JUMP FROM ONE BEAM TO ANOTHER – WHAT FREEDOM! BUT THE DUOMO MUST BE GRAND, AND MUST HAVE THE MOST BEAUTIFUL MARBLE PULPIT EVER SEEN SAYING: WHAT IS MINE IS SMALL, WHAT IS OURS IS GRAND!”.

As soon as you have crossed the threshold you will be struck by the huge 13th Century wooden statue of St. Christopher, the Christ Bearer, who is the patron saint of Barga and of automobile drivers. The cathedral is dedicated to him and from his niche of gold behind the high altar in the central choir, he seems to be reassuring the visitor that his strength is sufficient to calm the fears of all those who place their trust in him.   – source 

 

 

 

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