Celebrating May in Fornaci (di Barga)

The first of May at Fornaci di Barga is unmissable. Each year it goes from strength to strength and has something to offer to everyone.

The high street is pedestrianized so one can admire some of the old villas that line it without getting mown down by vehicles. There are styles ranging from eclectic through art nouveau to orientalism and thirties modernism.

The stalls are plentiful and full of variety and there are many places one can be fed and watered at:

A master patissier was showing off his skills:

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This gentleman was demonstrating the rejuvenating properties of snail slime (in cream form, it should be said, no snails were actually present).

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This is a great way to publicise one’s Wedding Dress Shop!

There’s a new statue to the local Judo club at Fornaci which I found rather effective. It’s near the station and celebrates the foundation of the club which has won several national awards.

In the central square there’s an overflowing of flower stalls.

A highlight was the splendid display of vintage and not so vintage motorbikes and scooter. I particularly enjoyed the Ducati and Vespa section. Thanks to the Fornaci di Barga moto collectors group for putting on such a great display.

What’s this? It’s a separate starter motor for motorbikes that had to be pushed to get going! I’ve forgotten the Italian word for it…

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Nearby the geological society opened up their museum which is filled with minerals showing the rich diversity that is contained in the complex geology of this valley where one half is metamorphic and limestone and the other is largely sedimentary rock. There can’t be many valleys in the world like that with totally differently created sides.

A sales point gave one the chance to buy a specimen without having to search the surrounding mountains for them:

The fossil collection is also very fine. Among the trilobites and ammonites they include my favourite – sharks’ teeth from the cretaceous era. That’s what links this area to the Blackheath Beds in Abbey Woods, London SE where we enjoyed hours of harmless fun searching for these predators teeth.

I wonder when we’ll join them….

The tattoo studio had a very fine display of photographs from different persons of the area. We were invited to vote for the best photographer. I voted for this one:

Few people have recaptured the Garfagnana like Luca Famlonga has. I do hope there’s a book out soon with his amazing photos. You can see more of his stuff at http://iconosquare.com/lucafamlonga

Among the other photographs I was amazed that the ones entitled Pop London included one of my favourite teenage watering holes!

As befits a tattoo studio there were also pictures of tattooed persons. I didn’t realise that tattooed western women were around in Victorian times!

I was quite impressed by the blues band outside the musical instruments shop. Their Creamy version of ‘crossroads’ was most effective.

The highlight of the events at Fornaci was the steam engine pulling a train consisting of an old diesel followed by characteristic thirties railway carriages. Yet again I missed the chance to be a passenger on this train. How evocative is the hiss and smoke of these wonderful machines which almost appear to be living organisms rather than mechanical contraptions!

Here’s a little video showing those amazing sound effects of an Italian steam locomotive.

If you’ve been there did you enjoy yourself at Fornaci’s First of May? What did you like most? I’d be pleased to know.

2 thoughts on “Celebrating May in Fornaci (di Barga)

  1. This is certainly one of the best represented Festivals that are held yearly in the area it is so very varied and interesting should please most people. I most enjoyed as you asked the fossils because these bring me back aeons in time and represent part of our lives when we were probably cave dwellers. I like the choice of photograph that you voted others were also of a very high standard but e waterfall seems to evoke life hope and happiness abounding after all we are all about 70% water! The bikes were fun and the lambrettas too evoking a happy era as are the mopeds similar to my mosquito you quizzed me about this the other day yes indeed I was the first lady to ride such a machine not in Italy as it belonged to my aunt Dina who used it to go to and from work but I was the first lady to ride such an amazing machine in a village in Northern Italy it was unprecedented unheard of no self respecting female rode astride a two wheeled machine a bicycle ok but not a powered machine that propelled you along the countryside unheard of unacceptable. Funny how times have changed. I wish I still had this vehicle as parents do they tossed it ignominiously unbeknown to me onto the rag and bone van I since went for a Honda Brazil expecting to make a long journey beyond the UK just managed to get to Wembley and back in one piece thereafter I decided maybe pillion passenger was best on the Honda Transalp. I just love the steam locomotive we can still ride them in the U k Bluebell Railway such fun! The tattoos are very daunting and scary especially the Victorian Lady quite amazing though unique a discrete one maybe but that is in someone’s face obviously not for all to espy.

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