Puccini's Lucca, Lucca

Puccini's Lucca (Self Guided), Lucca

One of the greatest musical talents of mankind, Italian composer Giacomo Puccini, was born and spent a substantial part of his life in the Tuscan city of Lucca. Today the legacy of Puccini resonates all over the world and even more so here.

Puccini's ancestors, also musicians, moved to Lucca in 1719. The future maestro was born in a house that had belonged to his family since 1815 – Casa di Puccini (Puccini's Birth Home) on Corte San Lorenzo is now a museum, featuring much the same decoration and furniture as when the Puccinis lived here.

Throughout his life Puccini enjoyed close friendship of Alfredo Caselli, owner of cafe in the historic heart of the city. Cafe Caselli, now known as Caffè Di Simo, was for many years a gathering spot for local intellectuals, artists and musicians.

The Institute of Music that Puccini had attended from 1872 to 1880, now called the Instituto Boccherini, contains many examples of his early work, including a valuable collection of his childhood compositions, as well as the piano and harmonium on which he had practiced.

The Cathedral of San Martino – Puccini’s personal involvement with this temple started when he was at the seminary school. Back in the early 1870s Puccini took part in the Festival of Santa Croce at the cathedral, first as a boy singer, then as a member of the choir, and later as a deputy organist.

The Teatro del Giglio, founded in 1675 – once the cultural point of reference all over Tuscany, is where Puccini rehearsed and attended his opera shows, the most famous of which was Madama Butterfly (1904).

If you wish to follow in the footsteps of the great composer in his hometown, consider taking this self-guided walking tour of Lucca.
How it works: Download the app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" from Apple App Store or Google Play Store to your mobile phone or tablet. The app turns your mobile device into a personal tour guide and its built-in GPS navigation functions guide you from one tour stop to next. The app works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

Download The GPSmyCity App

Puccini's Lucca Map

Guide Name: Puccini's Lucca
Guide Location: Italy » Lucca (See other walking tours in Lucca)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 6
Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.5 Km or 0.9 Miles
Author: Dee
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Citadel Square and Puccini Monument
  • Casa di Puccini (Puccini's Birth Home)
  • Caffe Di Simo (former Cafe Caselli )
  • Suffrage Auditorium. Boccherini Institute
  • Duomo di San Martino (St. Martin's Cathedral)
  • Teatro del Giglio (Theater of the Lily)
Citadel Square and Puccini Monument

1) Citadel Square and Puccini Monument

The Citadel square (Piazza Cittadella) is in the pedestrian area of the city, a few meters from Piazza San Michele, and is famous above all for the presence of the house, now a museum, which gave birth to the composer Giacomo Puccini, to whom the image of Lucca in the world is inextricably linked.

In the center of the square there is a statue representing the musician from Lucca sitting on a chair smoking a cigarette. It is a final tribute, that is respected by the Italians and tourists who are traveling and make a stop.

Initially called Piazza Di Poggio due to the presence of the homonymous family, one of the most powerful in medieval Lucca, it had to change its name in 1522, when the same family challenged the other patrician families of Lucca for power, in what went down in history as the conspiracy of the Poggi, but it was defeated and its members were exiled.

It was therefore first called Piazza del Grano and then Piazza Cittadella due to the presence of the building, famous in the Baroque era for the hanging garden that was located on the large terrace that can be seen from the square, owned by the rich family of the same name from Lucca.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Casa di Puccini (Puccini's Birth Home)

2) Casa di Puccini (Puccini's Birth Home) (must see)

Casa di Puccini, also known as the historical Giacomo Puccini Birthplace Museum, located at Corte San Lorenzo, 8, is where the composer was born on 22 December 1858. The Puccini family had settled here since 1815 and Giacomo had lived in this property until 1880, when he left for Milan to complete his studies. Later he had several other residences, but always remained attached to this house.

Converted to a museum in 1979, the place features original furnishings, personal belongings of the musician and other unique artifacts, including autographed sheet scores of his early compositions, numerous letters, paintings, photographs, handwritten notes and musical sketches, relics and other documents. Among the exhibits is the Turandot costume designed by Umberto Brunelleschi and worn by the soprano Maria Jeritza for the very first performance of Turandot opera at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York in 1926.

The museum also houses the Steinway & Sons piano, purchased by Giacomo Puccini in the spring of 1901. This is by far the most important instrument of all the composer had ever owned, both in terms of quality and history. The piano had followed Puccini as he moved from Milan, at the end of 1921, to his new villa in Viareggio. On this instrument Puccini composed much of his music, including, most notably, his last work – Turandot. Restored in 2006, the piano retains its original design, but most importantly the sound.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Caffe Di Simo (former Cafe Caselli )

3) Caffe Di Simo (former Cafe Caselli )

Throughout his life Giacomo Puccini enjoyed close friendship of Alfredo Caselli, owner of a café in Via Fillungo, in the heart of the historic center of Lucca. Caselli inherited this place, along with the adjoining spice shop, from his father Carlo.

A lover and patron of the arts, Caselli was one of the central figures of the Lucchese cultural scene of the 20th century. At some point, his café was among the largest cultural centers of Italian artistic Bohemia, frequented by the likes of musicians Gaetano Luporini and Alfredo Catalani, poets Giovanni Pascoli and Gino Custer De Nobili, painter Lorenzo Viani, and composer Gustavo Giovannetti.

In large part, these prominent personalities, among whom was also Giacomo Puccini, owned their friendships to the café's owner. The relationship between him and Puccini was rather fraternal – Caselli often followed the composer throughout Europe to attend various premieres of his operas.

Presently called the Antico Caffè Di Simo, the joint is largely unchanged from what it used to be 100 years ago, featuring much the same furniture and original decorations.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Suffrage Auditorium. Boccherini Institute

4) Suffrage Auditorium. Boccherini Institute

The Suffrage Auditorium (Auditorium del Suffragio) is the former Roman Catholic church (Chiesa del Suffragio) in the historic center of Lucca, which is now used as a theater. The church was erected in 1634 on the site of a cemetery where victims of the plague of 1630–1631 had been buried, and is one of the few temples in the city built from scratch during the 17th century.

Although consecrated in 1646, the church was fully completed only in 1675, when a majestic Baroque altar with four spiral Solomonic columns was installed (presently removed to the Ajaccio Cathedral in Corsica). Of a particular interest is the façade with three orders marked by pilasters, which in the lower register enclose three arches that define a vaulted vestibule offering access into the building. The venue has a seating capacity of over 200 and is used for both musical and theatrical shows.

Next door to the Auditorium is the Instituto Boccherini (Institute of Musical Studies "Luigi Boccherini"), formerly known as the Instituto Pacini, in which young Giacomo Puccini had studied from 1872 to 1880. Among its relics are the valuable collection of Puccini’s childhood compositions, as well as some from his time in Milan (1880-1883), plus the piano and harmonium on which the future maestro practiced. Also preserved here are some compositions by Puccini’s ancestors, donated by his father Michele Puccini, who had taught at the Institute from 1843 and became its director in 1862 – a position he held until his death.

During the years when Puccini was a student, however, the Institute was located at Piazza Santa Maria Forisportam in an ancient monastery complex.
Duomo di San Martino (St. Martin's Cathedral)

5) Duomo di San Martino (St. Martin's Cathedral) (must see)

It is said the Cathedral of St. Martin was founded by San Frediano in the 6th century and rebuilt by Bishop Anselmo da Baggio in 1060. It came into its current form in the 12th and 13th centuries. Anselmo later became Pope Alexander II. In 1372, the apse of the church and the wall of the transept were completed. The style was Gothic.

The facade of the church is in three great arches surmounted by three rows of galleries filled with sculptures. To the right of the facade is the bell tower. It has a four-sided base and five rows of windows divided by pilasters. The crown is made of Ghibeline merlons.

The interior is laid out in a Latin cross with three naves. The two side naves are topped by false galleries. The central nave is contained in a semicircular apse with three large Romanesque windows.

The left aisle has a small chapel holding the sacred relic, the Holy Face of Lucca. The relic is a wooden crucifix with the image of Christ, supposedly carved by Christ's contemporary Nicodemus. It is said to have suddenly appeared in Lucca in 742 AD. The chapel itself was built by Matteo Civitali in 1484. Civitali was a sculptor of Renaissance Lucca.

Off the sacristy is the funeral monument of Ilaria del Carretto, made by the sculptor Jacabo della Quercia. Ilaria was the wife of Paolo Guinigi, Lord of Lucca until 1430. The Lady Ilaria died very young. Her image depicts her lying on the sarcophagus as if asleep, her faithful dog at her feet. Her ghost is said to haunt the Guinigi tower at night.

The Cathedral is also famous for its long association with members of the Puccini family who moved to Lucca from the mountain village of Celle in 1719. Giacomo Puccini’s personal involvement with the Duomo began when he was sent here to attend a seminary school.

The Cathedral, at one time, was a home of two magnificent organs: one from the 15th century and the other from the 17th. Little remains of these instruments today but the gallery and frontal pipes are still visible. From the early 1870s, Puccini took part in the Festival of Santa Croce at the Cathedral, first as a boy singer, then as a member of the choir, and later as a deputy organist.
Teatro del Giglio (Theater of the Lily)

6) Teatro del Giglio (Theater of the Lily)

Teatro del Giglio (Theater of the Lily) is a historic theater and opera house in Lucca, located in the eponymous Piazza del Giglio (Lily Square). The original theater on this site, known as Teatro Pubblico (Public Theater), was inaugurated in 1675 and later destroyed by fire. A new theater in its place, rebuilt after the Napoleonic war in 1818, features a Neoclassical style with rusticated portico, surmounted by a balustrade upholding pilasters that lead to a tympanum with the coat of arms of the city.

The frieze on the front carries the inscription “Teatro Comunale del Giglio”. The name giglio (“lily”) derives from the fleur-de-lis emblem, which was part of the Bourbon heraldic shield of the reigning duchess, Maria Luisa of the House of Bourbon.

During the 19th century the theater underwent modification, seeing first gas and then electric lights installed – in 1872 and 1911, respectively. Famous all over the world for its extraordinary acoustics, the building became the stage of choice for Giacomo Puccini's operas. Here, from 1891 to 1924, the maestro had personally supervised the staging of Edgar, Manon Lescaut, La Bohème, Tosca, Madama Butterfly, and the Girl of the West.

The theater brought glory to the musician, seeing him progress from “chronicle to myth”. Giacomo Puccini is still very much present at the Giglio today, not only as the name on billboard that pays homage to his greatness every season, but also as the spirit that is felt on the stage, in the boxes and stalls, as well as in the musicality of the typical cadence of the "talk about Lucca".

The Teatro del Giglio is annexed to the Auditorium Theater and the old convent church of San Girolamo’s library holding a fund of approximately 4,000 volumes and recordings of shows since 1985.

Walking Tours in Lucca, Italy

Create Your Own Walk in Lucca

Create Your Own Walk in Lucca

Creating your own self-guided walk in Lucca is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Lucca's City Wall and Gates

Lucca's City Wall and Gates

As one of Italy's Città d'arte's (arts towns), Lucca is famous, among other things, for its well-preserved ancient walls encircling the historic center. From about 570 AD until 1847 the city had been the center of the Longobard administration and the capital of old Tuscany, and as such required a defense system to render it an impenetrable fortress.

Back in the Middle Ages, the...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.7 Km or 2.3 Miles
Lucca Introduction Walking Tour

Lucca Introduction Walking Tour

Lucca is called many things: a city of arts, a city of churches, gardens, towers. Most of all it is known for its walls. From Roman times until now the walls have stood. It is the only city in Italy that has kept its walls intact.

The inner walled city is laid out in the ancient Roman grid plan. The Piazza San Michele is the site of the old forum. Bits of the Roman amphitheater can be found in...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.2 Km or 2 Miles