Sommocolonia, perched on the slopes of the Apennine mountains, is a small and compact stone village. It was originally a fortified Roman outpost (the very name, made up of “Sommo” and “colonia”, seems to state the purpose the outpost had for the Romans: a colony in a high position).
Over the centuries Barga attempted several times to take over this village and succeeded only in 1532.
The outpost of Sommocolonia was probably first built in wood and then rebuilt in stone over the centuries.
It had two large square towers and a wall. The walls and one of the two towers were destroyed by the Barghigiani in the 16th century, while the last tower, of which today only ruins remain, suffered extensive damage during the earthquake of 1290 and was hit by a cannonball during the ‘Christmas Offensive’ in 1944 (Operation Wintergewitter).
All the town was damaged by the bombings and the tower was partially destroyed as you can see today. A plaque affixed to one side remembers this tragic event.
The Church of San Frediano
The Church of San Frediano of Sommocolonia, like the one in Barga, has ancient origins. We know that it certainly already existed in 1260, since it was included in the list of the churches that were to contribute financially to the costs of Pope Alexander Iv’s crusade.
In the late 16th century and early 17th century, the church was enlarged considerably. During the Allied bombing of December 1944, the church took a direct hit and was destroyed. San Frediano was eventually rebuilt and reopened on 19 March 1953.
The ‘Peace Museum’ of Sommocolonia is well worth a visit. Here you can discover the role of the village of Sommocolonia during World War II (for more information, visit the dedicated page).
-Adapted from: Nardini, Sommocolonia, tipografia Gasperetti,1993
-Photo by: Alessandro Mogliani