Puccini, Son of Lucca…

Italy, Lucca, Tuscany

A bronze statue sits in front of his childhood home at Corte San Lorenzo, Fragments of his life are scattered throughout the province of Lucca. His music is known all around the world and he is arguably the greatest Italian composer of all time. He is Giacomo Puccini, (not to be confused with the opera singer Pavarotti!)… Famous for his late-19th century romantic Italian operas such as La Bohème, Tosca, Madama Butterfly, Turandot and one of the most famous arias ever written, Nessun Dorma. (You might have heard it being sung at football matches.)

 

The home he grew up in has been restored in the style of the mid-nineteenth century and made into a small museum with a pretty little garden, You can walk through the rooms of the house, where there are displays of manuscripts and music scores from his operas, as wells as photos and paintings. Each room has a small description of what the room was used for (written in both Italian and English), The highlight for us was seeing the very same piano on which he composed Turandot, There is also some interesting costumes from his operas, and various other memorabilia.

His lake side home where he lived and worked on his major operas is in nearby Torre del Lago, what was once an old watch tower and his beloved home is now his final resting place and a museum. Every year during the summer months the Museo Villa Puccini holds a Puccini Opera Festival, held in the outdoor theatre overlooking the lake, Puccini fans can hear some of his famous operas performed by the very lake where he composed them.

The city of Lucca embraces him as a favourite native son, and its a wonderful joy for any opera fan and if you wish to visit the area there is the aptly named piccolo hotel Puccini just around the corner from his childhood home!

Black, White and Red Photography – London…

London, Photo Post, Photography, Uncategorized

I’m not the best at black and white photography (so any tips would be appreciated!) but on my last trip to London, I played around with the classic red of the London buses against a black and white background….What do you think?

 

 

Please feel free to critique in the comments below…

Taken in London, England.

© TuscanDreamsPhotography
Images in this post are owned and distributed by me.

 

Boboli Gardens, Florence

Uncategorized

These 16th century gardens climb the hills surrounding Florence, located behind the Pitti Palace they are a maze of greenery and lavish fountains. With their own unique mix of art and nature, you can imagine the aristocrats of Florence strolling the lawns and holding grand lawn party’s.

When the Medici family brought the Pitti Palace they called in Niccolò Pericoli, also know as Tribolo to create a masterpiece of “landscape architecture”. He created formal gardens for the rich family to show off to their friends, today these world-famous gardens have been extended and form 11 acres of tranquillity within the centre of Florence. Tickets cost £10 per person and include entry into all the gardens and access to the display of clothing and a small ceramic museum.

The garden has several entrances but Piazza Del Pitti is the most popular, the Piazza itself is overshadowed by the enormous Pitti Palace and it is here you will by able to buy you tickets for the Palace and/or the gardens. Entering through an exterior section of the Pitti Palace, you get a little glimpse at how massive this palace really is!

The elaborate architecture in the court-yard separates the palace from the gardens and to the left of the courtyard is the art filled Grotto Grande (Currently under restoration) and the Rococco style Koffeehouse.

The sprawling gardens are a great breather from the busy city and even in their slightly neglected state you could easily spend an entire day exploring the grounds. A full tour of the gardens will require a lot of uphill walking and the only place to get refreshments is at the Kaffehous so I would recommend bringing plenty of water and some comfortable shoes.

The spectacular lawns climb up Boboli Hill from the amphitheatre, passed an Egyptian obelisk and to Neptune’s fountain. If your legs can handle it, a grand staircase will lead you further up to Giardino del Cavaliere. the small garden is bordered by the porcelain museum and well worth the uphill hike as it provides amazing views not only over the city but also the rural hill sides of Florence.

Towards the east of the gardens is a shady cypress alley called The Viottolone, this axis runs down a steep slope past woodland, through the Island Park and beyond the walls of the garden. The wide gravel avenue is lined with Cyprus and laurel trees, dotted with classically-themed statues and majestically leads you down to Isolotto Pond. The Isolotto is an oval-shaped garden surround by tall green hedges, the large island centre is adorn with lemon tress and wildlife. Connected by two bridges and emphasized by elegant gates the island garden is a must see, from here there is a splendid view back up towards the wide avenue of trademark trees.

Water features played a huge part in Italian garden design and at the end of the Viottolone (just before the Isolotto) is a large mosaic star. Hidden under the star was the mouth of a water jet, the water which travelled down elaborate water ways from the Garden of Cavaliere is reported to have “shot upwards to a height of seventy-one feet! As the gardens lacked a natural water supply a conduit was built from the Arno to feed water into the impressive water system.

Although the garden is packed with dramatic water features a lot seem to have been without water on our visit, which was a shame. Have you visited and seen any of the water displays working?

Just to make your mouth water…

Food, Photo Post

I was going through some old photos recently and found some of the amazing meals we have enjoyed whilst in Italy (and yes I am one of these who have to take a photo of good food before I eat it!)

I apologise in advance if it makes you hungry, I know it did me uploading the pics!

 

Pizza from Mamma Mero’s Lucca

Pizza’s in a small restaurant in Florence.

Fresh focaccia from Paniko’s bakery.

Pasta salad and a glass of vino

Fresh tagliatelle with a carbonara sauce

Pesto Genovese

 

What’s your favorite Italian food?

Just think this is before I get started on the gelato photos!…….Ok while you wipe the drool away, I’m off to make pasta!

 

 

Ponte della Maddalena

Daydrips, Lucca, Travel, Tuscany

 

This beautiful medieval bridge crosses the Serchio river near the small town of Borgo a Mozzano. Known Locally as  “Ponte del Diavolo” (Devil’s Bridge) the Ponte della Maddalena “Bridge of Mary Magdalene” is just a short train/bus ride from Lucca, originally thought to be commissioned by the Countess Matilda of Tuscany somewhere between 1080 – 1100, the majestic bridge has become a symbol of the Garfagnana region and attracts many tourist to this sleepy corner of Tuscany every year.


The vital river crossing was once an important link for pilgrimages to Rome and is incredibly easy to find, there is a car park beside the bridge and regular trains an buses from Lucca.


Arriving by train brings you into the main town of Borgo a Mozzano, where its only a short walk through the quite streets until, with a glorious backdrop of the Garfagnana mountains the top of the stone bridge comes into view.

The “climb” to the highest arch brings spectacular panoramic views over the river and up towards the little houses which dot the surrounding mountains. Once across its elegant arches you will find a bilingual narrative next giving the history of the bridge, there is also a small cafe where you can enjoy an espresso and admire the stone work before heading back across to check out the delights of Borgo a Mozzzano. Being only a 25 minute train ride from Lucca this made a great day trip for us and we have since been back to the bridge a few times when in the area.