About the House

Casa della Quercia is a Grade-A listed historic building which has been meticulously restored by its owners, taking the greatest effort to retain the architectural details of the original building. The house started out as a Roman guard house and has been a priests' house and farmhouse at various points in its long and varied life. The villa was originally constructed between two watch towers which were joined together to form one large building. The house has Roman foundations and its layout has evolved over the centuries, but the earliest date that can be found is 1555, carved on the stone doorway outside the guest bedroom French window. An ancient Roman Road, the Via del Volta Santo, the pilgrims' way from London to Rome, runs right underneath the stone patio.

When the owners came across this house in 2002, it had been uninhabited for about 15 years and was a pathetic sight. The plaster walls, wooden floorboards and massive chestnut beams were all but ruined by the leaking roof. But they recognized the beautiful stonework and the carved pietra serena panels surrounding the windows and doors as evidence of a once proud building, and they were determined to restore it to its former state. As much as possible was reclaimed to be used in the restoration; floorboards from the middle story of the house were salvaged to be used in the high ceiling of the living room, and antique terracotta tiles from the bedrooms were relaid in the dining room and kitchen. New doors and windows were handmade from chestnut wood by local craftsmen, and the massive stone fireplace in the living room was carved by a local stone mason, who copied the design of an ancient mantelpiece in a neighbor’s house, originally a monastery.

Soon after starting renovations, the owners were offered the property next door, consisting of a large barn and half of the large stone courtyard (aia) in front of the house. The aia had been divided in two, and now the two parts could be joined together again. The Church then put up for sale the adjacent olive grove on the hillside, which the owners purchased, along with a few other pieces of land from their neighbor, including the terrace for the swimming pool (zoning regulations meant the pool could not be built any closer to the church). The property ended up being far more extensive than originally intended, in all about three acres, but it has all come together to make a unique and spacious compound.

The best feature of the house is the stunning views across the valley to the Apuan Alps. The boundaries of the Apuan Alps National Park are being graduallly extended and within a few years the village of Reusa will be part of the park, meaning that this view will never change.

The Village of Reusa

The village of Reusa
is made up of five parts, and the part around the church is called Quercia (oak wood). Quercia is a cluster of ancient buildings perched on a stone outcrop facing the mountains to the southwest. Though the house is part of the village, it is completely private on the south side. The other parts of Reusa are located further up the hillside; the photo on the right is taken from Groppolo, looking down on Quercia.

Reusa is an ancient settlement, dating back 3,000 or 4,000 years. Our neighbors dug up a Stele in their vineyard a few years ago—a Stele is a stone carving from the ancient culture of Luni; you will see representations of these carvings all around the region as they have been adopted as symbols of Lunigiana. Little is known about these ancient people, and the Stele is now in the museum in Casola, with others found in this area. An old Roman road, the pilgrim's route from Milan to Rome, follows a route right through our property and through the center of the village. The Romans kept up the road, and for a small fee gave safe passage to travelers; you can still see the Roman guard post under the archway on our property (see photo on right).

The house is adjacent to the church, which is tended by the ladies of village who gather on Friday afternoons to clean it, and on Saturday afternoons for mass. There are about six families living in Quercia, some whose ancestors have been here for generations; these neighbors have become our dearest friends and we couldn't wish for better neighbors. They have welcomed us into their village with open arms, and their presence adds a distinct Italian flavor to a visit at Casa della Quercia. They are always happy to stop to exchange pleasantries (in Italian!) and invite you into their homes to offer you a glass of homemade wine or an espresso. 

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Casa della Quercia
Gillian Drake • Ronald James
Via della Quercia 12, Reusa, Casola in Lunigiana, Toscana

Italy telephone: 0-585-949-155
Italy cell: 331-332-1935
USA: (508) 255-5084

 

Casa della Quercia
The House & Village
Pool and Grounds
Accommodations
Local Restaurants
Surrounding Area
Directions etc.

“What a remarkable place, definitely the best villa we have ever stayed at. Beautiful, incredibly well equipped, fantastic coffee! and all in a breathtaking location. Usually by the end of a holiday we are ready to go home, with this place we could happily stay on!”
—Lin & Simon, Southampton

 

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Left: Neighbors Meralda and Carla tending to the church. Mass is held on Saturday afternoons.

Left: Roman road and guardpost and entrance to middle floor.

Below left: Side view of the villa after renovation, showing steps down to the terraces and the entrance to Roman road through archway.

Below right: the same view before renovation.

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