The Eye of Lucca

There has always been a communication web in Lucca province. This might surprise those who have had to wait to wait for years (like me) for a decent broad band connection to reach one’s house. However, we are not talking about electronic webs but those that antedated it. The centre of Lucca’s web, known as “L’occhio di Lucca”, the eye of Lucca is at the top of Monte Bargiglio, the mountain one can see overshadowing Borgo a Mozzano to the west, seen here in the centre of the range shown in this photo:

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On the top of this mountain there is a watchtower from which most of the other areas of Lucca province can be clearly seen. To the south one’s sight goes right down into Lucca’s piazza Napoleone. To the north Barga and beyond can be clearly discerned. Unfortunately one can’t see Bagni di Lucca (although Fornoli and the immediate villages can be spotted) as it’s blocked by a hill.These plans and drawings dating back to the sixteenth century give an indication of the tower’s sights.

Through the lighting of bonfires and smoke signals the authorities in Lucca could be safely warned of any impending attack from their foes: the Este from the north, the Florentines from the east and the Pisans from the west.

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If I crave for a short but interesting walk then I like to head for the Bargiglio as I did yesterday. The first part of the route takes one beyond the village of Cune and past the hermitage of San Bartolomeo (see my post at

until one reaches a notice board on the left.

Here one can park one’s vehicle and take to one’s legs. The second part starts with a somewhat steep path which levels out as it enters into a dark wood where there is another noticeboard – part of the research and excavation project on the mountain which took place in 2004.


Out of the woods one starts climbing again through exposed grassland and rocks. Fortunately, in a couple of the more hair-raising bits there is a wooden rail to help one along.

After a final scramble there is a last noticeboard showing plans of the watchtower before one enters into the remains of the circular tower itself.

The visibility was not brilliant yesterday but one could still see across a fair deal of Lucca’s province, including  Lucca itself.

In particular I noticed how each of the remaining windows was aligned to particular places.

Today the tower is an attractive viewpoint but I wonder what life must have been like for the sentries stationed up there from the thirteenth to the eighteenth centuries. It must have been a boring experience and in winter a miserably wretched one. No accounts, however, survive of those who worked there. A pity, for there is quite a bit more to find out about the eye of Lucca on top of Monte Bargiglio.

4 thoughts on “The Eye of Lucca

  1. Pingback: A Watchtower that Became a Cross – From London to Longoio (and Lucca and Beyond) Part Three

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