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Puccini's Piano

semi-overcast 17 °C

As we stroll the largely traffic free medieval lanes of Lucca we are transported back to a quieter time - long before the infernal combustion engine drowned out the laughter of children, and the tweeting of cellphones replaced the twittering of birds. However, Lucca was a city of more than a hundred churches and so, in the stillness of a crisp autumnal Sunday, the songs of angelic choirs would have echoed from all corners of the city and especially from the cavernous nave of the great cathedral – San Martino...


Begun in 1063, just three years before the Norman Conquest of England, this cathedral has weathered almost a thousand years of wars and tempests largely unchanged. And had we been here on December 22nd. 1858 we may have heard Michelle Puccini playing the organ triumphantly to announce the birth of his son, Giancomo. This is a statue of Giancomo Puccini which sits outside his boyhood home in Lucca...


By all accounts Giancomo Puccini had little interest in following his father's footsteps as a musician, but it is a foolish boy who defies an Italian mother. And so, with more than a little persuasion, Giancomo became one of the greatest opera composers in the world. And this is the piano on which he wrote many of his 12 operas...


In 1904 Puccini was so famous that when his opera Madame Butterfly debuted at La Scala in Milan he could only get a 5th row seat for his sister. He died almost a hundred years ago but he would easily recognise the streets surrounding his boyhood home today. He would certainly have ran through this tunnel many times...


This tunnel and several similar ones leads to one of the most intriguing sights in Lucca – the Roman Amphitheatre...


Around two thousand years ago the Romans built a great amphitheatre in the centre of Lucca and over the centuries it was gradually taken over by shopkeepers and home builders. Parts of the stadium still exist underneath the shops and apartments, and the four triumphal arches, where the gladiators once marched into the arena, still give access to the centre. Maybe Julius Caesar watched a tournament here when he visited in 56 BC.
Although most of the shops in the amphitheatre have now been taken over by modern cafes and restaurants, there are many shops in Lucca that have been around well over a century. For instance: the Bottega di Prospero is a delicatessen that has traded from the same shop since 1790...


In any other place the Bottega would be considered a working museum, but in Lucca it is just a part of everyday life. Most of the dry goods are still weighed and packaged just as they were more than two hundred years ago and we can imagine little Giancomo Puccini being sent her by his mother for a quartucci of beans and a jug of olive oil...


We could not visit Lucca without attending a Puccini concert in one of the many churches where he played the organ as a teenager...


The scene was set and we spent an enjoyable hour listening to a couple of sopranos lifting the roof with some of Puccini's high spots. We couldn't record the performance but if you would like some classic Puccini click here.

Posted by Hawkson 12:11 Archived in Italy

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You've convinced me - a must go!!

by Joyce

I melt when I hear this Aria but the Opera and the words seem to be just conquest - not love even though the music implies longing and love.

by Janet

I love the drawing of the old into today. Such a depth of history.

by Sue Fitzwilson

Hope one of the soprano choices was O mio babbino cara, my favourite. A real tear-jerker.
Have heard the great Pav both in concert and operas live. No one does Puccini better in my opinion. An Italian singing Italian opera. What can be better than that?

by R and B

Lovely photos of a great place. Happy to see a bicycle has followed you from earlier trips! Can the ladri di biciclette be far behind?

by Tom

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