The Big Room has been our choice on each of our three visits to Casa Cordati. When Giordano was a youngster, it was a children's room and there were sometimes five small boys from the extended family sleeping there. We imagined pillow fights at bedtime and the sheets being pulled off a sleepyhead in the morning.
It was good to see Giordano again. He is a kind and charming host, always ready to help and a mine of local information. He lives in the palazzo. If he's not in the shop on the ground floor where he sells high quality prints and postcards of his grandfather's paintings, he'll probably be giving a guided tour of the seven rooms on the first floor, a permanent exhibition space for more than a hundred of Bruno Cordati's works from the 1920s to the 1970s
The Big Room occupies the whole width of the palazzo. From the back rooms there is a panoramic view over the New Town of Barga below, and beyond to the Apuan Alps; and from the front, a bird's eye view of the Old Town's main street,Via di Mezzo, so narrow you could almost shake hands with the neighbours opposite.
In the evenings we would wait to go out until we heard increased activity in the street below, say Hello to Giordano as he was closing the shop, and check we had our key to the massive entrance door. On our first evening we just had to go back to the Aristo cafe in the Piazza Salvo Salvi where we were greeted with welcome back hugs and kisses from the irrepressible Giovanni. We ordered our favourite, Giovanni's platter of cheeses and cold meats followed by his wife's delicious almond tart. As Scots ourselves it is always a pleasure to meet the Italian Scots who frequent the Aristo, descendants of the many emigrants from Barga who settled in Scotland.
We were sorry to see that the little food shop in Via di Mezzo had closed since our last visit, maybe not unrelated to the opening of a second supermarket in Barga's New Town. The nearest food shops including the British Shop are in the Via Pascoli.. To fortify us for the climb back to the Old Town, we'd treat ourselves to a scrumptious cake - or two - at the Pasticerria Fratelli Lucchesi, excellent value and popular, we noticed , with children and their mothers on the school run. A beautician and hairdresser is next door.
Coming from a cold country, we find the cooler spring and autumn months suit us best for our holidays in Barga. In autumn there is always the risk of a sudden downpour - but how else could such magnificent giant trees flourish in Barga's municipal park? Just once we were caught in a heavy shower and regretted not having accepted the ever-considerate Giordano's offer of an umbrella.
Maybe we should come back in July or August when the renowned Barga Jazz and Barga Opera festivals take place. And we heard so much about the Sagre del Pesce e Patate, when Barga celebrates its Scottish connection with fish and chips served at long tables outdoors over a period of several weeks. The venue is the sports stadium named after Johnny Mascardini, the famous footballer, another Italian Scot. But summer is a busy time for Giordano and we might not get our beloved Big Room.
On our last night we discovered a new venture, sit-down fish suppers at Momento di Vino a wine bar/ cafe in Via Marconi, a few doors from the Barga Celtic Supporters Club.
Back at Casa Cordati we enjoyed a farewell Prosecco in the Attic To access the Big Room, the equally enormous Attic has to be traversed, which means high-stepping across a massive oak beam holding up the original 17th century part of the Palazzo's roof. The Attic is a charming space, with sofas, a rocking chair, two hammocks and a child-sized table with matching chairs. Truly Casa Cordati is unique. We've certainly never come across a more characterful place to stay.
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