If you love opera, where better to hear it than in Tuscany? All summer long, you can enjoy beautiful music in lovely Tuscan locales. From great accommodation to top spots for food and drink, Adrian Mourby’s guide is your perfect travel companion
Photos by Kate Tadman-Mourby
Where to stay
Nido D’Amore Butterfly Hotel
The Love Nest Butterfly Hotel is ideally located if you’re just attending the Puccini opera festival. Each suite has a hydromassage bath and a great view of Lake Massaciuccoli.
Via Belvedere Puccini, 24/26 – Torre del Lago
+39 0584 194 2170
A modern hotel within the city walls which offers an excellent breakfast buffet and free cycle hire for those who want to complete a circuit of Lucca’s delightful city walls.
Via del Fosso, 26 – Lucca
+39 0583 47615
To Tuscany Villas
This English-based company has some of the best rural villas north of Lucca on their books, as well as properties in Arezzo, Florence, Chianti, Grosseto, Livorno, Pisa and Siena.
Gallery Hotel Art
The Lungarno Collection has a number of properties along the Arno River, but this is their boutique offering with an Asian-Mediterranean restaurant, a library bar and chic black and white bedrooms.
Vicolo dell’Oro, 5 – Florence
+39 055 27263
Puccini Ristorante Bed & Breakfast
Immediately next door to the Puccini family’s country home in Celle sits this friendly B&B with just a few bedrooms and great views of the Serchio Valley.
Via Meletoli, 29 – Celle dei Puccini
+39 0583 359246
Grand Hotel Duomo
Although it’s a bit of 1970s eyesore itself, the Grand Hotel Duomo has the best views of Pisa from its rooftop bar. It’s perfectly located if you want to sneak out at dawn to have the Leaning Tower all to yourself.
Via Santa Maria, 94 – Pisa
+39 050 561894
Where to eat
Just opposite Puccini’s lakeside villa, and (allegedly) the home of his long-term mistress, who provided the role model for Minnie in La fanciulla del West.
Piazza Belvedere Giacomo Puccini, Torre del Lago
+39 0584 359830
This tiny, friendly trattoria tucked away in the backstreets of Lucca is good value, but booking in advance is suggested as it tends to get busy.
Piazza del Carmine, 7 – Lucca
+39 339 500 9167
With its long tables spilling out onto the square outside, this hotel restaurant has a great view of Teatro Giglio, where Puccini’s operas were performed in his presence.
Piazza del Giglio, 2 – Lucca
+39 0583 494058
Osteria Alla Goccia
Outside Pisa’s usual tourist area and located on an unremarkable road opposite the Chiesa di San Sisto, this osteria serves excellent food in a no-nonsense way and is popular with locals.
Via Corsica, 4 – Pisa
+39 050 560821
Irene is proud of the cocktails it serves in this sophisticated bar-cum-dining room which occupies the ground floor of Florence’s stately Hotel Savoy.
Piazza della Repubblica, 7 – Florence
+39 055 273 5891
Ristorante Pizzeria Enoteca Le Meraviglie
Great value pizzas in a little village in what seems like the middle of nowhere – except for the convoys of cyclists whizzing past. If you’re staying in a local villa this is the place to get takeaways.
SP1, 13 – Camaiore
+39 0584 951750
What to see & do
Casa Natale Puccini
The family apartment displays furniture, letters, photos and costumes from Puccini’s operas. There’s also a reproduction of the bed in which he was born.
Corte San Lorenzo, 9 – Lucca
+39 0583 584028
Villa museo Puccini
Puccini is buried in the house where he wrote Tosca and Madama Butterfly. The lakeside setting was ideal for his love of hunting and motorboats.
Viale Giacomo Puccini, 266 – Torre del Lago
+39 0584 341445
Villa Reale di Marlia
Napoleon’s sister lived at this palazzo as Princess of Lucca and Grand Duchess of Tuscany. Paganini played for her here. The grounds are open by arrangement.
Via Fraga Alta, 2 – Marlia
+39 0583 30108
According to Puccini legend, it was a visit to hear Aida here that inspired the struggling music student to write operas.
Via Palestro, 40 – Pisa
+39 050 941111
Gran Caffè Margherita
When Puccini built a home in Viareggio he used to meet his friends at the Margherita. Half of it is now a book shop but the décor is still impressive.
Viale Regina Margherita, 30 – Viareggio
+39 0584 581143
Teatro Comunale di Barga
The old Teatro dei Differenti is well worth visiting, as is Barga and its duomo, which is also a festival location.
Vicolo del Teatro, Barga
+39 0583 724791
For more, check out Puccini: the sound of Tuscan Music