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Giacomo Puccini and Torre del Lago
“Sunny beaches, cool pine forests, the lake is always calm, in other words: Eden“
A deep love that lasted over thirty years links Giacomo Puccini to the delightful village of Torre del Lago, which with pride of all its inhabitants, changed name a long time ago into Torre del Lago Puccini.
When the great composer first arrived here in the late nineteenth century, he was searching for a quaint and quiet place where to pour his creative genius.
Puccini immediately fell in love with the Lake and the small village whose houses were reflected in the blue-gray waters of Massaciuccoli less than two kilometers from the sandy beaches of Versilia, and the reception from the locals was enthusiastic. On his arrival the young composer even found a small welcoming committee in the railway station and many artists, mostly painters, with whom later he founded “Club La Bohème”. They all gathered around him happy to count among them an already famous person.
These were years of extraordinary artistic fervour that involved most of the region: Florence, Livorno, but also Lucca – where Puccini was born – which were in contact with Paris and other European capitals, ideas and people were circulating wildly, painters and musicians met in homes and cafes. But then, to return to their roots of inspiration, where nature still offered them strong sensations, to find the purest lights and sounds.
Puccini had two great passions, music and hunting and for him the Lake Massaciuccoli represented the ideal place to cultivate both. He arrived in 1891, at the age of 33, and decided to settle there, renting rooms. Then came the success of Manon Lescaut (1893) and La Bohème (1896) where he earned enough money to buy the house of his life, an ancient watchtower (the origin of the name of Torre del Lago) which he completely rebuilt. Marquees Ginori, owner of these lands, gave him permission to fill a part of the lakeshore in front of the house with soil in order to build a garden and a road. Just outside the house stood a small pier from which he left for his hunting trips, in particular for bald coots and snipes.
The other Puccini locations:
Puccini’s House that is now a Museum and Maseleum with the spoils of the Maestro
The house, which can be visited, still treasures the pianos with which he composed his masterpieces, memorabilia of the greatest performances, the prizes of his international triumphs, the paintings by his friend Ferruccio Pagni, who the composer used to meet together with other artists such as Plinio Nomellini and the Tommasi brothers.
Puccini lived in Torre del Lago for thirty years and here he composed his main operas, among which Tosca (1900), Madama Butterfly (1904), La Fanciulla del West (1910), La Rondine (1917) and Il Trittico (1918). In 1921 he moved to the new house he had built in Viareggio, where he lived only three years, until his death in 1924. By the will of his son, the Maestro is buried in a chapel built in the old house on the lake.
The lake, that can be toured by boat leaves form a pier in front of Villa Puccini, reminds us of stories of old: the light is still that of the old days and so is the calm. Today the lake belongs to the Regional Park of Migliarino, San Rossore and Massaciuccoli, which covers 24 thousand hectares of beaches, pinewoods, marshlands that host a very rich bird fauna.
Viareggio, a well-known seaside resort, was already fashionable during Puccini’s lifetime, for the beaches and the carnival. Viareggio offers numerous aspects of liberty architecture and counts amongst its many famous inhabitants Galileo Chini a friend of Puccini; who was the first scene designer for Turandot. The villa in the Marco Polo quarter in Viareggio was Puccini’s last home, in one of the town’s beautiful Liberty areas.
Between Torre del Lago and Lucca, you can visit Chiatri, one of Puccini houses immersed in olive trees.
Lucca, surrounded by its intact sixteenth century city walls, allows to discover the house where the Maestro was born at no. 9 of St. Lorenzo Court and, where the museum that is dedicated to the Maestro is located: www.puccinimuseum.org
In the town of Pescaglia is located the charming Celle dei Puccini, that houses a small but interesting museum run by the Lucchesi in the world Association.
Puccini settings are represented not only his homes, but by many sites that Puccini loved to frequent such as Caffè di Simo in Lucca or the historic Gran Caffè Margherita in Viareggio, or more so by the impalpable atmospheres that even today, between the shores of the Tyrrhenian Sea and mountain spurs of the Apuan Alps and the Garfagnana, make the stay in the province of Lucca so attractive and unique. It is here that art, culture, music and tradition are fused with a refined gastronomic cuisine and such exquisite hospitality that will not cease to amaze.