Tuscan products

by Samuele Sodini

The small village Brancoli

When you leave the walls of Lucca heading northwest on the SS 12 road (the Brennero) towards Abetone, you will immediatly begin to notice the mountains surrounding the plain of Lucca. Our trip is taking us to Brancoli. Or rather to the villeges of the Brancoleria. On entering the tiny village of Vinchiana perched right on the river Serchio, you will find a cluster of signs on your right, announcing the villages of the Brancoleria. The are many of them, and they are still inhabited and doing business, fortunately many are served by local Lazzi bus.
Piazza Brancoli is the oldest and was at one time a Roman lookout village called a platea. This tiny village sports one main road into the centre where  a cluster of houses are still inhabited and several cobled roads leading up to houses on the hillside above.
The church of Santa Maria Assunta dates from the 700s and is still used.
There are also some families still working here in the trades of their ancestors, for example at the Studio di legno, where the Casoli Cecchettini family still make windows and doors.
In Campitello, the Di Aiuta family make a sweets and have a travelling van that goes all over the Lucca area.
The  Giammattei Morelli family keep bees and sell their honey and other products in the Tuseday “mercato” in Ponte a Moriano and on the Brennero outside Lucca.
And the there is the wonderful “Bottega”, open daily and on Sundays by demand.
Established fifty years ago and run by Liliano Diodati, his wife Livia and their children, particulary Nara and her husband Armando. This wonderful emporium stocks fresh tuscan  products and is godsend for villagers who would otherwise have no travel by car to do their daily shopping.
The “Bottega” now proudly displays a new sign, the work of local resident artist Marj Picchi, an enthusiastic customer.
With springtime weather now hopefully upon us, take a little trip from Lucca to explore this charming corner of the Garfagnana.
And if you think you may get peckish, you can place an order with Nara Diodati at the “Bottega” for a basket lunch or sandwiches by telephone on 0583.965041.

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