Many towns have places that have become part of their communities’ tradition, places that are irrefutably stages for particular anniversaries.
For some years the Barga community also has one: Sommocolonia, half favored for celebrating anniversaries like April 25th’s Liberation Day, which though less festive than others, is an occasion of great significance.
Sommocolonia is a symbolic place for this community because of its WWII history. Here, on December 26, 1944, the bloodiest WWII battle in the Serchio Valley occurred.
Sommocolonia is a place of memory, a rightful place to pay homage to the victims of the war of liberation and to all the victims of tyranny and the violence of all wars. That by now long ago 26th December 1944, when German forces attacked, more than a hundred people lost their lives, between soldiers, partisans and civilians.
But for some years Sommocolonia has also become the place to rediscover the desire and the joy of passing the day together, celebrating the arrival of good weather with the pleasure of reconnecting with one another. It is without a doubt the place chosen by ever more people from Barga to spend April 25th, celebrating an anniversary it would be best never to forget, above all remembering the sacrifice of those who permit us to live today in liberty and democracy, but also celebrating a beautiful community in a very beautiful territory which still offers traditions that encourage our being together. This gift of simplicity in living isn’t found in many parts.
All this in enchanting Sommocolonia, which yesterday, the 25th of April, following two days of bad weather, was an unexpectedly bracing day but a sunny one that gifted us with moments of light and color infusing the landscape with intensity.
And like all the years, maybe a little more every year, hundreds chose the little mountain village to pass this day, inspired by the beautiful initiative of the Passeggiata della Libertà Walk of Liberty. The walk began in the morning from Barga’s Piazzale Matteotti and led participants to the little village via its ancient mule trail — dozens upon dozens of walkers: men, women, young people and children, as well as many four-footed friends. It was all organized by the Pro Loco in collaboration with the Arca della Valle.
The village was filled with the Liberty Walk participants who had traveled the old, steep, but truly inspiring Sommocolonia mule trail. Upon arrival the walkers were welcomed by members of the Associazione Ricreativa Sommocolonia (Sommocolonia Recreation Association or ARS), who, as usual, dedicated themselves to providing an excellent meal for the hundreds who had climbed to the village.
The official part of the day, the depositing of wreaths, took place during the morning: first at the Monticino monument which remembers the partisans and heroes of the Sommocolonia battle, and then in the church piazza at the monument to all the villager soldiers fallen in the war. The laurel wreaths were carried by the Comune administration in a simple but touching ceremony organized in collaboration with the Barga section of ANPI (National Association of Italian Partisans) and with the participation of Alpini, carabinieri (police) of the “Luporini” band and many others. Mauro Campani, President of the Barga ANPI read the names of the fallen in front of the monument to the partisans, while at the church piazza, in addition to ANPI members, the officials included the Mayor Marco Bonini, together with Sara Moscardini, representing Barga for the Lucca Historical Institute –here the ceremony concluded, framed by a large gathering of people.
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