Small group tours of Italy can focus on very many different things, from culinary adventures to cultural highlights. Moreover, thanks to the size of the tours, we can easily tailor the activities on offer to your interests, even the most specific ones. That is why, when if asked to organize a visit to the city of Lucca and base it around the life and works of its native Giacomo Puccini, we are more than happy to oblige. |
Here are some of the highlights of Puccini’s Lucca and how this magnificent opera composer intertwined himself with the town’s opera tradition.
Giacomo Puccini: A Brief History
Born on 22 December 1858 in the Tuscan town of Lucca, Puccini joined a family of musicians. A choirboy during his childhood, Puccini was later drawn to opera music and, after obtaining a diploma from the Pacini School of Music in Lucca, he went on to study at the Conservatory of Milan. It was in this bigger, bustling city that he encountered the wider musical world.
Written for a magazine competition, Puccini’s first opera Le Villi was staged independently in 1884, and it achieved huge, immediate success from both the public and the critics. By his third opera, Manon Lescaut, fame had found him, and he settled in Torre del Lago, where he wrote most of his later operas, such as La Bohème and Madame Butterfly. After touring Europe and the Americas extensively, Puccini fell ill and died, sadly, on 29 November 1924 after undergoing surgery for throat cancer.
Puccini’s Lucca: Still Relevant Today
Opera enthusiasts will be delighted to know that Lucca proudly preserves, up to this day, plenty of locations related to the great opera composer, and our small group tours of Italy’s Tuscan regions can be arranged to take you to them. It is obvious, as you walk around Lucca, that the city is immensely honoured by its operatic heritage. These are just a few of the specific locations where you can feel that little bit closer to Puccini himself.
Celle dei Puccini
This family home is where Puccini spent his summers during his childhood years. It is located in the hill-top village of Celle dei Puccini, within the province of Lucca. Nowadays, it houses a museum that offers free entry (although donations from fellow Puccini fans are greatly appreciated) and has a wonderful tour guide who welcomes small group tours and will explain everything in detail, as well as encourage you to ask as many questions as you can come up with. You can even stand next to the piano on which Puccini composed part of the world famous Madame Butterfly!
Bagni di Lucca
This quaint little commune has been known since Etruscan and Roman times for its thermal springs and, at one point during the 19th century French occupation, it became the summer residence of Napoleon and his sister. It was then that a casino was built, and it was in this casino that young Puccini spent many days as a pianist, undoubtedly entertaining unsuspecting guests who couldn’t foresee the force of music he’d eventually become. Puccini came back often as an adult to enjoy the springs and relax after busy continental tours.
After the amazing success of Manon Lescaut and La Bohème, Puccini came to the hamlet of Chiatri, where he bought an old, isolated villa overlooking the gorgeous Lake Massaciuccoli and restored it. Currently, you can see it from the outside, but it is most definitely worth a visit if you are trying to get to know Puccini, the man, better. He was deeply in love with this villa, but could only spend short periods of time there – unfortunately, his wife and son were convinced the house was haunted.
As you can see, no matter how niche your passion, our small group tours of Italy can be arranged to help you explore it. Puccini and opera lovers will be enthralled by their visit to Lucca, and their companions – even if less enthusiastic about the composer himself – will not be short of entertaining things to do, incredible food to eat, and fabulous sights to see.
Antonio Nobile is Tour Operator & Researcher at Caspin Journeys, a specialist provider of small group tours of Italy, England and Spain. Following in the footsteps of the company founders Pino and Caroline, he has exceptional insider knowledge and a personal devotion to all the tours he organises.
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