Puccini Opera Festival 2018: Memories and Music in Tuscany, departing 18 July 2018

Shares

Luxuriate in the operatic Puccini Opera Festival and enjoy two famous Puccini operas performed in the stunning open air theatre in Torre del Lago - Madame Butterfly and Turandot. Discover the enchanting scenery of Montecatini Terme, in Tuscany's rolling hills and marvel at what you see and hear on our excursion to the historical town of Lucca, a walled city that was the birthplace of Puccini and discover the beauty of Florence and its historical highlights such as the famous Piazza della Signoria.

Giacomo Puccini was born in Lucca on 22 December 22 1858, the last descendant of a five-generation family of musicians. After his father’s death, he spent his adolescence between his family house in Lucca and the summer residence in Celle. At the end of 1880, after obtaining his diploma from the Pacini School of Music in Lucca, he enrolled at the Milan Conservatory. Puccini’s stay in Milan was very important for many reasons; he came into contact with the musical world of that period and became associated with the Scapigliatura movement (a group of intellectuals who reacted against all courtly forms of art, basing their works on pure inspiration and fantasy). In this period he met Pietro Mascagni, with whom he shared a room for a few months. In 1883 he completed his studies, obtaining his diploma with the composition Capriccio Sinfonico, which immediately revealed the greatness of the young maestro. Soon he became very famous and settled in Torre del Lago with his family, on the banks of the Lake Massacciuccoli. Here he wrote most of his operas: La Bohéme, Tosca and many more. Here Puccini spent his life, enjoying little simple things, such as his love for hunting and the friendship with other hunters, the pleasant moments spent with his friends belonging to the Macchiaioli movement (a group of painters who were precursors of Impressionism). He died on 29 November 1924 in Brussels, leaving his last work, Turandot, unfinished.

Our Puccini tour will visit the places where he spent his childhood and his adulthood, those that marked his life and represented great sources of inspiration for this great artist.

Inclusions

• Return flight from Dublin, taxes and transfers • Five-nights in the four-star Grand Hotel Panoramic in Montecatini Terme with breakfast • Welcome aperitif • Walking tour of Montecatini Termi with visit to Spa Garden Tuttuccio and aperitif • Excursion to Lucca with lunch and wine tasting: Entrance fee to the Cathedral and Puccini House included • Excursion to Florence with guided walking tour • Visit Villa Von Puccini in Torre del Lago • Pre-opera dinner in a local restaurant in Torre del Lago followed by performance of Madama Butterfly (category 1 ticket) • Pre-opera dinner in your hotel followed by performance of Turandot (category 1 ticket) • Free time for independent sightseeing • Coach and guide for all transfers and excursions

Itinerary

Day 2

Today, meet your local guide for a guided walking tour of Montecatini Terme, the thermal town designed by the Grand Duke Leopold in the second half of the 18th century. Montecatini Terme was founded and developed around its water springs, exploited inside spa facilities immersed in a beautiful spa park. The recurrent architectural theme of the town is represented by the eclectic shapes of its hotels, cafes and spa facilities, while the decorative theme shows some elements belonging to “Liberty style”. This movement represented the Italian equivalent of Art Nouveau, an innovative artistic movement which, at the end of the 19th century, affected both architecture and applied arts. The town hall, the cafes and above all the spa facilities were built in this style. The symbol of Montecatini is the TETTUCCIO, the most important spa facility in the town. Your guided tour includes a visit to the town hall, decorated by the painter and ceramist Galileo Chini (a leading figure of the Liberty movement, who also worked as stage designer of some works by Giacomo Puccini) and then a stop at the Tettuccio, a place Puccini liked, where the composer used to spend many hours during his spa treatments, listening to the local orchestra and resting in the coffee house. Still today the spa facility offers live music to its customers. Visit the old coffee house inside the Tettuccio thermal establishment, with frescoes by Giulio Bargellini and Mario Biseo, and the Gallery of Drinks to admire the unique and extraordinary ceramic objects made by Basilio Cascella. The tour will finish with an aperitif in the coffee house to taste the atmosphere of the past. Remainder of the day is at your leisure.

Day 3

Breakfast at the hotel and departure for Lucca, a walled city that was the birthplace of Puccini. Lucca is one of the most beautiful art cities in Tuscany. The town still possesses 5 km city walls surrounding and containing its immense artistic and architectural heritage. Marvel at the historic centre and its numerous churches, in particular the Dome, the church of San Michele in Foro, where Giacomo Puccini often played the organ and the Basilica of San Giovanni, which characterized an important moment in the composer’s life: his baptism. The tour continues with a stop at the charming Via Fillungo, the main street in the historic centre, along which it is possible to see old houses and towers. Tangential to Via Fillungo, in the area where the Roman amphitheater is located, the Market square was opened in 1830: a series of medieval buildings which, together with the theatre, close the square in a circle, creating a charming architectural frame. The visit also includes a stop at the monument dedicated to Giacomo Puccini and at his birth house. Lunch will be served in a typical Italian trattoria. Afterwards there will be free time for you to explore Lucca independently. Take a gentle stroll around the walls that encircle the old town or relax and watch the world go by in a café in the picturesque Piazza dell’Anfiteatro. On the return to Montecatini Terme, stop in a wine cellar in Montecarlo (famous for the production of wine) for a traditional Italian wine tasting experience. Return to hotel Evening at leisure

Day 4

Morning and afternoon at leisure In the late afternoon/early evening, transfer to Torre del Lago and visit Villa Puccini. Here the great composer lived and worked in his beloved home on the edge of the lake for almost 30 years. This house inspired most of his most famous operas. It is a tower-like house with a traditional structure, whereas its garden, which originally was close to the lake, has an irregular structure with flower beds decorated with eccentric stones, palm trees and bushes. The house was equipped with the latest innovations, such as a modern heating system with radiators and the telephone. Puccini asked his friends, the painters Plinio Novellini and Ferruccio Pagni, to embellish the house with their decorations, which can still be admired. Today the Lake of Massaciuccoli is a nature reserve for the protection of one of the most important marsh areas in Europe, but at Puccini’s time it was a game reserve. It is still possible to see diving ducks, cormorants and herons. Little bitterns and reed warblers live undisturbed among canebrakes. The vast sedge land includes rare plants, such as the royal fern and the marsh hibiscus. Pre-opera dinner will be served in a local restaurant and after dinner attend the performance of Madama Butterfly” at the beautiful open-air theater on Lake. With category 1 tickets. Opera start time: 21:30 Madama Butterfly - Puccini’s Japanese opera was the crowning triumph of his early years but its composition was played out against the backdrop of a great personal tragedy on the shores of Lake Massaciuccoli. The story of the Japanese geisha who remains faithful to an insensitive American sailor achieved his oft-stated intention of making audiences cry. Coach transfer back to hotel at the end of the evening.

Accommodation

Your hotel: 4* Grand Hotel Panoramic in Montecatini Terme

The 4* Grand Hotel Panoramic is a 4-star hotel is situated at the northern borders of the renowned thermal parks in Montecatini Terme. An impressive garden, with large glass windows, faces the terrace with swimming pool. Rooms and suites at Grand Hotel Panoramic are individually furnished. Some rooms come with a panoramic balcony or a little garden (not guaranteed).

  Cost per person: €1,669pp
  Number of nights: 5
  Dates available: Wednesday 18 July 2018

Single Supplement €93

Tour supplied in Partnership with:

atol iconatol icon