History of Deccio Di Brancoli
Deccio di Brancoli is an Italian village in Brancolaria, which is part of the municipality of Lucca. It is one of the villages in the Brancoli hills north of Lucca. Other villages are San Giusto di Brancoli, Sant’ Illario di Brancoli, Gignano di Brancoli, Pieve di Brancoli, San Lorenzo di Brancoli, Piazza di Brancoli and Ombreglio di Brancoli.
The history of Deccio takes us back to 200 Before Christ when Roman officer Decius established a small castle (castellaccio) or watchtower from the east to the west of the hill. This was part of a line of defence in front of the plain of Lucca (Piana di Lucca) and was used as a strategic viewpoint. The defence line is formed as a result of Hannibal’s invasion, who led his army deeper into Italy through this area (Tuscan Appeninnes), and conquered Rome in 218 Before Christ during the Second Punisher War. Over the years, Deccio di Brancoli developed in the watchtower’s shadow. The church, consecrated to San Frediano (a clergyman from Ireland and Bishop of Lucca in the sixth century) is mentioned for the first time in a document from the diocese of Lucca dated 774 (German period). The current church stems from renovations from the sixteenth and eighteenth century. Today’s village probably stems from the period of the ninth and tenth century.
In the middle ages, multiple settlements (incastellamento) were build in the Lucca region. The bell towers of these settlement were connected with each other and were used to transmit warnings. Deccio’s bell tower was part of this warning system and one of Deccio’s bronze bells from 1302 is exposed in the National Museum of Lucca.
During the Second World War, the American and German armies fought around the village. The village was in the Gotic Line, a defence line of 320 km build by the Germans in Northern Italy. Deccio is bombed by the Germans from ‘croce di Brancoli’. The San Frediano church in the village has been renovated a number times during the past decades, the last time being in 1913. Unfortunately the church isn’t open to the public anymore, but it’s still in use for special occasions.
The number of inhabitants of Deccio di Brancoli has strongly decreased in the twentieth century: in 1832 the village counted 191 inhabitants from 37 families, today the village only has 13 residents. But, there is hope! In 2011, for the first time in a long time, a baby is born in the village!
History of Casa Fresca
Casa Fresca, located in Deccio’s ‘Vigna’, is build between 1900 and 1910 by Gaudenzio Puccenelli. Gaudenzio, born in Deccio, worked in Brazil for a few years where he made his fortune. He was seen as the most intelligent man in the Brancoli region and served as counsellor in Lucca. He died in 1920 and is burried in Deccio’s grave yard, where his gravestone with pictures can still be found in the wall.
After his work in Brazil, Gaudenzo returned to Deccio. In ‘Vigna’, he build three houses for friends and family in: our house (Casa Fresca), build for Davide Pieruccini, the house to the left of ours, build for Teresa Pieruccini, and the house to the right of ours, build for Gaudenzio’s daughter Angelica and her husband Luciano Pieruccini. During the last year of Davide’s life, his nephew Giulio Pieruccini moved in to take care of him. After Davide died, Giulio and his family lived in Casa Fresca until they moved to Lucca in the sixties.
Since, Casa Fresca has changed of ownership twice. In 2008 it was bought by Dutch nationals who completely renovated and refurbished the house. Until 2014, Casa Fresca served as Bed & Breakfast under the name of Casa deli Angeli. In 2015 we bought the house and renamed it into Casa Fresca. This name refers to our joint business Fresh Forces.