Born: Lucca, Italy, December 22, 1858. Died: Brussels, Belgium, November 29, 1924.
Education: Pacini Institute, Lucca, Italy, 1880; Royal Conservatory of Music, Milan, 1883.
Achievements: Last great Italian opera composer. Created perennial favorites of the opera world, including "La Boheme," "Tosca" and "Madama Butterfly." Giacomo Puccini was a failure. His first attempt at opera had shown modest promise, but his second - "Edgar" - was a fiasco. The fiasco had taken four years to complete. His publisher, under pressure to drop him, warned the young composer, "Remember, Puccini, you are at a most difficult and critical time in your artistic life."
Puccini was 31 and had yet to produce a masterpiece. Another failure would mean the end of all his dreams. He had already lost two early composing contests. The judges of one advised him to work harder. Work harder he did.
Puccini abandoned "Edgar" and started anew. In a few years, he was back in triumph with "Manon Lescaut," his first great success. Giacomo Puccini was the last great Italian opera composer, heralded in his own day as the successor to the great Giuseppe Verdi. But it was not always certain that this was so. Puccini was not a child prodigy. He was a poor student, even in music - until his teacher introduced him to opera. His passion for opera fueled his drive to study hard and work hard. "Edgar" wasn't the last of Puccini's failures. Many of his now famous works made disappointing debuts. The response to "La Boheme" was mixed. "Tosca" was ripped apart by critics. At the premiere of "Madama Butterfly," the audience hissed and laughed, prompting the cancellation of all scheduled performances. But each failure only renewed his determination to correct his mistakes and get things right the next time.
Day trip to Barga
Barga is a lovely medieval hamlet nestled up in the mountains about an hour away from Lucca. Very lovely and untouched for several hundred years. The drive to Barga is pleasent and you get to pass the famous Ponte del Diavolo (Devil's bridge) on your way up.
Check out the Barga town website:
Don´t miss this pizza!
We spent our first dinner in Lucca in this pizzeria and what a treasure! The pizzas are really good cook and tasting and big tooo :) The service is also fast and clean as well as the owner who seems very happy man.
The restaurant is spacious and also offer the service in the terrace (in summer), very nice. We had a nice big salad as starter and a couple of pizza with parma ham, mozzarella, tomatoe sauce and rucola!!!
mmmmm very tasting :)
Walking In and Out of Churches
We had hoped to get a map at the information center but it was closed, so we just walked town, and ducked in and out of churchs. Possible churches to see include
Duomo di San Martino which contains the Volto Santo which is believed to be the face of Christ, carved by Nicodemus who was present at the crucifixion.
There is also San Michele in Foro found in Piazza San Michele. They spent all the money on it, and didn't have enough left to built the church to match the facade. The archangel crowning the church features retractable wings to survive high winds. Open daily 7:40-noon and 3-6.
And the Basilica di San Frediano which has a big gold mosaic on the front.
We should have walked the walls but did not have time.
San Martino Cathedral
This is the Romanesque cathedral of Lucca, built in the 12/13th century and located in piazza San Martino right next to the Walls.
It's the biggest church in Lucca, all built in white and grey marble, with different rows of columns on the facade and a statue of San Martino drawing his sword riding his horse.
The interior is really dark and austere (when I was a kid I was scarred by this church), but there are a lot of art masterpiece (statues, paintings, organs, furnitures...). The ceiling is very high, as a gothic cathedral, and there are some beautiful colored glass windows that create amazing light game on the inside. The contrast between the coloured figures projected on the floor and the darkness and silence of this churce is breathtaking.
In a chapel inside the church there is the statue called "Volto Santo" (that means "Holy face"). This statue represent Jesus crucified, and it's one of the rare figure that represent Jesus as a dark-skinned man (as probabily he was). In September this statue is dressed with golden clothes and accessories included a golden cup placed under a foot to gather the holy blood.