Tower of Bargiglio

You can reach the Tower of Bargiglio with a pleasant walk of about 15 minutes along the path leading to the summit of the mountain of the same name, from which you can also enjoy a splendid view over the Plain of Lucca, the Middle Valley and Garfagnana Basin. From the tower you can also see numerous settlements connected to the defensive system of Bargiglio. This strategic positioning, in the 17th century, earned the settlement the nickname of “The Eye of Lucca”.

Archaeological excavations conducted by the University of Aquila between 2003 and 2004 made it possible to shed light on the walls previously buried under vegetation and collapsed. The research also revealed that the fort of Bargiglio consisted of two separate constructions, recognizable in the tower and in the keep that incorporates it.

Historical notes

The original structure was square-based. However, following its demolition, around the end of the 15th century, the area was levelled and a new tower was raised of cylindrical form with a wooden roof recognizable in the sequence of circular holes in its walls. Of the cylindrical tower, what remains today is an elliptical arched window that originally allowed a view of the castle of Castiglione Garfagnana.

The construction of the keep, however, belongs to a later period, probably around the second half of the 17th century. Later scarping was added to the base of the tower and the well of the cistern was built.

The Tower of Bargiglio is mentioned for the first time in a document dated 1330, which bears testimony to a siege of troops under the command of Francis Castracani and to the fact that it was a castle with a tower and not merely an isolated tower.

In 1339, Francesco Castracani managed to gain control over the military structure of the “Castrum Bargilii”, which included its “domus”, or “house”, probably the tower, recorded in various deeds of sale.

In 1369, the descendants of Francis Castracani were accused of unrightfully holding the “fortilia de Bargilio”. This is why the Republic of Lucca forced Nicolao Castracani to sell it at the considerable price of three hundred florins. Just three years later, however, the sons of Francis Castracani, probably the elected castellani, or castle rulers, improperly took back the fort to use it as a base for their raids. The castle was re-conquered by the armies of Lucca and the Elders of the Republic of Lucca decided to raze it to the ground to prevent other rebels from taking possession.

The reconstruction of the fort took place only in 1468 following a decision of the General Council of Lucca. The preservation of “The Eye of Lucca” needed continuous work of various kinds. In 1584, the Republic of Lucca entrusted the restoration of the walls of the fort to Vincenzo Civitali, inserting Bargiglio within the restoration project of the most important fortresses of the state of Lucca.

During the 17th and 18th centuries the Tower of Bargiglio and its outbuildings were again subject to various architectural restoration projects. In 1801, the Bargiglio garrison was finally decommissioned, with the consequent abandonment and degradation of the entire complex.


Tower of Bargiglio, medieval tower ruins
Tower of Bargiglio, ruins
Tower of Bargiglio, tower remains detail