An inferno of flames stabbed at the darkness on Monday, Sept. 10, 1973. Lucca’s restaurant was ablaze, and according to retired Fire Chief Alden Potter, it was the worst fire in town since 1941, when the Madera Theater burned. Losses from the restaurant fire were estimated at $250,000.
Bystanders could hardly believe their eyes. There had been a Lucca’s on the corner of Third and Gateway since 1934, when Giorgio and Aurelia Del Bianco built their restaurant there, but it had its beginning much farther back than that.
The year was 1902, and the young lad was only 16 years old. Since his 28-day voyage across the Atlantic was punctuated with spasms of seasickness, Giorgio Del Bianco’s first view of Ellis Island brought a mixture of joy and relief. In time the unpleasantness of that voyage would fade as the young man set out to make his mark in Madera.
Giorgio had worked hard on his family farm in Italy, a one-acre plot, which contained his father’s vineyard and vegetables. No one really expected the son to stay; his brother, Alfonso, was already in California. Accordingly, no one was surprised when the younger brother announced he was going to join the older one at the Miller and Lux ranch near Los Banos...