Famous for the story that Puccini often visited friends in these hills and first heard in this tiny village the famous bells that he went on to recall in the first act of Tosca, Bargecchia
is located in the hills above Massarosa, overlooking Lake Massaciuccoli, in the midst of a forest of olive trees that grow so well here. The present day structure of the church, dedicated to San Martino , was erected in 1800, but it was built on top of a pre-exisitng church, still partly visible, dating back to the 13 th century. Inside the church are preserved valuable works of art from the 14 th and 15 th centuries; particularly beautiful in this simple atmosphere is a large oil-on-panel painting of Madonna and Child surrounded by saints. The campanile, or bell tower, was reconstructed in 1878, after the previous tower crumbled with age, having originally been erected at the end of the 6 th century. The famous bells were added in 1885; as a frequent visitor to the area, Puccini no doubt heard these bells on more than one occasion. In fact, it was this historical connection to the great composer that prevented the bells from being melted down and used in the manufacture of ammunition during WW2. The tiny piazza beside the church is home to two small cafes, and tucked around the corner just a few yards away is a restaurant offering a wonderful menu of local dishes and regional specialties, with seating indoors and outside in the garden.
Bargecchia is not so much a village or small town as a community of homes, spread out across the neighboring hillsides. To get there: Take the state road from Viareggio to Massarosa. Just 3 or 4 km out of Viareggio , you will arrive at Montramito, where you will take the road to the left, instead of continuing to Massarosa. After a few hundred meters, you will see the sign for Bargecchia on the right. Turn right and take the winding road about 5 km up the hill, leave your vehicle in the parking lot clearly marked on the left. It is a short walk to the church and piazza.