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Lucca
Photo © Emma Ivarsson
Photo © Emma Ivarsson

The places of Puccini in Tuscany

Between music and history: Puccini’s life through the cities that were dearest to him

In the beating heart of Tuscany, amidst soft hills and seascapes, the echoes of ancient melodies and vibrant emotions still resound: on the occasion of the centenary of Giacomo Puccini's death, here is an itinerary to explore the places that marked the life and inspired the works of the famous composer.
From Lucca, the city of his birth and witness to Puccini's first musical steps, to Torre del Lago, a beloved refuge and source of inspiration, to the tranquility of the countryside, each place tells a part of the maestro's story, weaving a plot rich in music and history.
An endless interweaving, that between Puccini and this land, in which memory and art continue to astonish even today.

Contents
  • 1.
    Lucca
  • 2.
    Versilia
  • 3.
    Mid Serchio Valley
  • 4.
    Bike itineraries

Lucca

Piazza Cittadella and Puccini House Museum
Piazza Cittadella and Puccini House Museum - Credit: Velia Ivaldi

The historic center of Lucca is where Puccini grew up and in which, from childhood, the maestro took his first musical steps.
From the Church of San Michele in Foro, over which stands the large statue of Michael the Archangel, you arrive at Piazza della Cittadella where Puccini's birthplace, now a museum, is located.
The central element of the Puccini Museum is precisely the home where the maestro was born in 1858: the museum tour is a real journey along the traces left by the composer, to discover his personality and his fervent creative activity.
Over time Puccini had several residences, but he always remained attached to the one in Lucca where he grew up with his sisters, brother and parents.
Sold due to family financial difficulties, the residence returned to Giacomo's ownership after the success of Manon Lescaut and preserves furniture, documents, sheet music and precious objects that belonged to the musician, including the Steinway & Sons piano on which he composed many of his works, including Turandot.
Through the various rooms of the home, you can get a sense of the family's daily routines and follow the traces left by the maestro.

In Piazza Cittadella we also find the bronze monument to Giacomo Puccini, work by Vito Tongiani.
Continuing this journey through Puccini's life, we can’t but mention the Teatro del Giglio - one of the oldest public theaters in Italy - where, in the spring of 1878, the young Giacomo performed as accompanist pianist to a rising singer. Later, now an established author, he staged almost all his operas right here.
The theater also preserves Puccini's famous bas-relief portrait, made in 1911 on the occasion of the performance of La Fanciulla del West.

Finally, within walking distance of Puccini's birthplace, near the wonderful Piazza Anfiteatro, we find the elegant building which over the years has welcomed several intellectuals, such as Giovanni Pascoli, Giuseppe Giacosa, Alfredo Catalani, Pietro Mascagni, Libero Andreotti and, of course, Giacomo Puccini: the Caffè di Simo, landmark for the great artists of the time who, in various rooms reserved for them, exchanged views, weaved relationships and friendships.

Versilia

Realization of an opera performance during the Puccini Festival
Realization of an opera performance during the Puccini Festival - Credit: puccinifestival.it

A retreat in the midst of nature, a cool and pleasant garden, the Art Nouveau style everywhere: this is the Villa Puccini Museum in Torre del Lago, a place loved by the composer from the first glance.

Puccini's love for this mansion shines through in every detail, from the furnishings to the decorations, which have remained intact to this day.

For years this was Giacomo Puccini's residence: it is on two floors and has a balcony connecting the main facade with a small garden, which is inspired in size and irregular shapes by Japanese ones, in accordance with Puccini's passion for oriental culture.

The Villa was built by De Servi, Galileo Chini and Nomellini in close collaboration with Puccini himself, who greatly loved Torre del Lago.

On the ground floor you can visit the chapel where the musician is buried and the two bas-reliefs by Maraini: La Musica che piange il Maestro (Music that cries for the Maestro) and La Musica che sopravvive al Maestro (Music that outlives the Maestro).

This strong connection between Puccini and Torre del Lago gave rise to one of the world's most famous opera festivals: the Puccini Festival which gives - every year in the summertime - a chance to hear great stars of world opera perform Puccini's masterpieces, staged in a big open-air theater on the shores of Lake Massaciuccoli, right in front of Puccini House Museum.

Mid Serchio Valley

Puccini House in Celle
Puccini House in Celle

The last member of a long dynasty of musicians, Giacomo Puccini spent his childhood summers in a family-owned villa in Celle di Pescaglia.
Objects of daily life, letters and musical instruments are preserved and visible in this house-museum, which is part of the Houses of Memory Association.
There are seven rooms that can be visited and are spread over two floors: family heirlooms, clothing - such as Giacomo's christening dress - a piano with which a part of Butterfly was composed and numerous musical manuscripts are just some of the treasures in this home, dear to the maestro until his death.

In Bagni di Lucca - thermal center known since ancient times - Puccini spent long periods. At a very young age, he played the piano in a dance orchestra and over the course of his life he returned there several times, either as a vacationer or stopping here for other destinations.
In 1909 - at the Grand Hotel Le Terme - he composed the second act of the Fanciulla del West and in 1920 he met the librettist of Turandot, Adami and Simoni.

Bike itineraries

Puccini bike-pedestrian itinerary
Puccini bike-pedestrian itinerary - Credit: Elena Tedeschi

For those wishing to visit Puccini’s places without giving up a nice ride in nature, the Puccini Ride trail starts in the center of Lucca - from the House Museum to be precise - and it touches the places dearest to the maestro until you arrive to Lake Massaciuccoli.

For those looking for a less strenuous itinerary, the Puccini bike and pedestrian path is the ideal solution: with its 53 km, it starts in Lucca - the first part of the two routes is shared - and arrives at the gates of the Lipu Oasis. It returns to Lucca by completing the route backwards.

For more information, refer to the website www.puccinilands.it 

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