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fortifications

Rocca of Villa Basilica


typology: Rocca
Area: Piana di Lucca
District/Locality: Villa Basilica
Foundation: XIIth-XIIIth century

A small commune with less than 2000 inhabitants in the valley of the Pescia Minore, Villa Basilica overlooks an extraordinary panorama surrounded by mountains where medieval villages and fortresses are inserted like jewels and that was admired, according to a legend, even by emperor Charles V.
The rocca is guarded on two sides by sheer cliffs; of uncertain date, it was built along an ancient paved mule-track leading to the Pizzorne, near to San Paolo, a place-name we already find in the VIIIth century.
The rocca of Villa Basilica is diamond-shaped and its remains show that it had a keep with a base similar to that of the fortress of Montecarlo and a minor tower opposite with a door that was later stopped.
State of preservation

The rocca preserves, although in state of abandon, portions of its walls and of the keep. Lately an excavation campaign has taken place and some weapons have been found (arrowheads, crossbow darts, plates of armours, together with pottery from Lucca).
Historycal news

The rocca, probably built around the XIIth century, was conquered in 1492 by Niccolò Fortebraccio and all the documents kept in the archives of the Palazzo di Governo were then burnt.
The excavations have led to the identification of 'filaretto' walls that along two long wings reached down to the village of Villa Basilica surrounding it completely.
Traces of ancient walls can also be seen in a place now called Villa Vecchia, near Barbagliana, where the oldest settlement in the area probably was.
Roads

Villa Basilica lies in the valley of the Pescia Minore, 5 km from Collodi. Arriving at Botticino (hamlet of Villa Basilica) along the provincial road between Collodi and Bagni di Lucca turn right towards Villa Basilica and the Pizzorne upland region. The rocca is difficult to reach since the path uphill from the centre of the village is poor. Proceed along the Pizzorne road by car and when you see a building on your right (there is no other landmark), continue on foot along a woodland path. Access to the rocca is not through the main entrance, but in correspondence of a collapsed portion of the walls.

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