Italy Puccini Festival small group Tour
From A$14,350 AUD
- 1. Experience a private concert at the Villa Medici Giulini, Milan
- 2. Visit Chigiana Academy, a prestigious music institution in Siena
- 3. Take a behind-the-scenes tour of the Teatro Alla Scala
- 4. Explore the enormous Parco della Musica, Europe's most visited music complex.
|02 July 2022 |
Ends 21 July 2022 • 20 nights
|01 July 2023 |
Ends 20 July 2023 • nights
Puccini Festival Small Group Tour in Italy
Join Odyssey Traveller in this guided small group tour where we attend the Puccini Festival, a summer celebration held in Torre del Lago dedicated to the renowned Italian composer.
In addition to the festival Puccini, we also explore other locations associated with Giacomo Puccini, such as Lucca, his birthplace and the site of a statue that commemorates him. As we move from Rome to Milan to Florence to Venice, with journeys to surrounding villages along the way, we build a picture of music in Italy. We explore theatres and museums with an aim to appreciate the history of the man and Puccini's work.
Puccini’s Early Life
Before he became known as the great Italian composer and proponent of verismo (realistic) opera, Puccini already had music in his DNA. He was born in Lucca in 1858 to a musical family. His great-great grandfather, also Giacomo, was maestro di cappella of the Cattedrale di San Martino in Lucca, and was succeeded by generations of Puccini men. In all, the family occupied the position of maestro di capella for a total of 124 years. It was expected that Puccini would continue this tradition, but this was prohibited by the early death of his father when Puccini was only six. He nonetheless participated in the church’s music, as a choir member and organist.
Later, Puccini studied at the Milan conservatory. Aged 21, he composed his Mass, which gestured towards his family’s long association with church music in Lucca.
Puccini and the Opera
But Puccini progressed quickly to operas, commencing with Le Villi in 1885. His second opera, Edgar (1889), met with a lukewarm reception. Puccini had attracted negative attention as well for eloping with his married former piano student, with whom he would go on to share a tumultuous relationship. His music publishers, G. Ricordi & Co. supported him to produce a third opera: Manon Lescaut (1893). It was an acclaimed production, with Puccini heralded as the most likely heir of Verdi, whose 1853 opera La traviata paved the way for the verismo movement (characterised by operas concerning ordinary people and everyday life) in Italian opera.
His greatest successes, however, were yet to come. La Boheme followed (first performance 1896), and was performed in opera houses across Europe, Britain and the United States. Next was Tosca (1900). Having seen Tosca performed as a play, it’s said Puccini was inspired to produce an opera without elaborate spectacle. Distinctive musical signatures were attached to characters and emotions. Some have compared it to Wagner.
Puccini in Later Life
In 1901, Puccini was seriously injured in a car accident. While his wife and son escaped harm, Puccini was pinned beneath the vehicle. As a result of his subsequent medical treatment, doctors discovered he was also suffering diabetes.
Madama Butterfly premiered in 1904. This opera was not well received at the time. This is attributed in part to inadequate rehearsals (compounded, perhaps, by the composer’s illness), and an incident in which the star’s kimono accidentally lifted during a performance. Puccini withdrew Madama Butterfly. But he continued to revise it, up until 1907. The 1907 version is the version we know and love today.
In December of 1918 in New York's Metropolitan Opera Puccini premiered his Il Trittico, collection of three one-act operas: Il tabarro, Suor Angelica, and Gianni Schicchi. He didn't attend the performance in America, but went to the production in Rome, Italy the following January.
Turandot was Puccini’s final opera. He died from complications from throat cancer treatment in 1924. It is said the news arrived to Rome midway through a performance of La Boheme, and the orchestra stopped immediately to play Chopin’s Funeral March in his honour. Turandot was left unfinished, but has been completed by Franco Alfano using Puccini’s sketches. Puccini has said of the style of his operas: “Poetry, poetry, ardent affections, flesh, searching, almost surprising drama, fireworks finale”. Fans of his work will likely concur with the characterisation.
The Puccini Festival Small Group Tour Itinerary
From 1891, Puccini spent most of his time in his beloved Torre del Lago, a charming hamlet near Viareggio, drawn to its picturesque lake. He was welcomed enthusiastically by its residents. In fact, after his death, the town was renamed Torre del Lago Puccini. This town now hosts the Puccini Festival – the only festival in the world that is solely dedicated to the composer and in an outdoor theatre.
This festival takes place each summer, during July and August. Since its inception in 1930, it has continued to grow in prestige. It showcases the local places that inspired Puccini throughout his life. Stagings of his great works feature the stars of the opera world. The Great Open Air Theatre leads onto Massaciuccoli Lake, and is set amongst gardens dotted with contemporary sculpture. And, to complete the experience, you can even see Puccini’s house: the place where he composed his masterpieces.
To complete our discovery tour, we will also visit Rome, Siena, Florence, Lucca, Viareggio, Genoa, Milan, Verona, and Venice.
You can browse our Italy country profile for more information. For more details about this tour, click the ‘Top 5’ or ‘Itinerary’ buttons above! If you’re keen to experience this tour, please call or send an email.
Other Odyssey Tours to Italy
We also have other tours in Italy that might be of interest:
- Odyssey Traveller’s Lakes and Landscapes of Northern Italy short tour takes you through this diverse craggy and pastoral region of northern Italy and its mountainous borderlands.
- In the Italian renaissance small group tour we take the time to explore the five independent cities and the families that ruled them: The Medici of Florence, the Montefeltro of Urbino, the Este of Ferrara, the Gonzago of Mantua, and the Sforza of Milan.
- Our Northern Italy tours begins in the cosmopolitan city of Milan. From the Northern Italian city of Milan the tour ventures up into two of the region’s lakes - Garda and Maggiore. From here a five day stop in Cividale del Friuli allows the traveller plenty of time to explore. You then head west again towards a highlight the Cinque Terre tours.
We have several articles concerning Italy, which you can read here as well as an article about planning a trip to Italy. We have articles about preparing for walking tours here and here. Other articles of possible interest is this two-part post filled with travelling tips for seniors, an article on the many nifty gizmos and gadgets you can bring on your trips, and an important article about practising responsible travel.
Day 1: Rome
We make our way to the hotel individually, before meeting for a group dinner.
Day 2: Rome
This morning we visit the Colosseum and Roman Forum, a sprawl of impressive ruins that were once the centre of the ancient city.
The afternoon is at leisure, to explore the streets of sunny Rome.
Day 3: Rome
Today we visit the Museum of Music Instruments, which houses over 500 items. We check out the Auditorium Parco della Musica, which was designed by the Italian architect Renzo Piano. It is Rome’s largest public music complex, and features three indoor concert halls, and impressive gardens. This is Europe’s most visited music facility, and the second most visited in the world (behind Lincoln Centre in New York).
We visit the Archive of the oldest Italian music academy. Then, we have entrance to the Vatican Museum, including the breathtaking Sistine Chapel.
Tonight, we eat dinner together in a local restaurant.
Day 4: Rome to Siena
Today we travel to Siena by coach. Siena is located in the picturesque Tuscany region. Its medieval brick buildings and distinctive fan-shaped central square endear it to visitors. Its historic centre has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Our local guide will show us the city’s main attractions. We’ll have entrance to the Cathedral, and visit Chigiana Academy – a prestigious music institution established in 1923.
We’ll enjoy dinner in a local restaurant tonight.
Day 5: Siena to Sam Gimignano
Today we enjoy a full day excursion to San Gimignano. Our local guide will introduce us to this beautiful village located in Tuscany. It boasts a skyline made up of medieval towers. We will sample local produce and wine during lunch at an agritusmo.
The afternoon will be free for us to explore charming San Gimignano, before we return to Siena.
We have dinner tonight in a local restaurant.
Day 6: Siena to Florence
Today, we travel to Florence. On arrival, our local guide will show us the city’s many historic attractions. We will visit the Duomo Complex, with the opportunity to explore it from both the outside and inside. The complex includes the Baptistery, Campanile and of course, the distinctive dome engineered by Filippo Brunelleschi.
We share dinner in a local restaurant tonight.
Day 7: Florence
We spend today at leisure in Florence, before transferring by coach in the late afternoon to Chiesa Di Santa Monica. On arrival, we will have dinner at Trattoria Napoleone (TBC).
Then, this evening, we will experience an Opera at Chiesa Santa Monica (TBC).
Afterwards, we return by coach to Florence for the night.
Day 8: Florence to Lucca to Viareggio
Today, we make our way by coach to Lucca – Puccini’s birthplace. We will stop in at Caffe di Simo, which was Puccini’s favourite cafe.
We will arrive at our hotel in Viareggio, before our evening transfer to Torre Del Lago. This is the location of the Puccini Opera Festival!
We have dinner in a local restaurant tonight.
Day 9: Viareggio
Today is set aside for your experience of the Puccini Opera Festival. Explore the locations that inspired the man to produce his masterpieces. Events TBC.
Day 10: Viareggio
Today you may continue your experience of the Puccini Opera Festival, or remain in coastal Viareggio if preferred. The Festival hosts many performances of Puccini’s great works. Events TBC.
Day 11: Viareggio
Today is our final day at leisure in Viareggio, and last opportunity to visit picturesque Torre Del Lago: site of the Puccini Opera Festival. Events TBC.
Day 12: Viareggio
Today we take a day excursion to Bologna, a UNESCO Creative City of Music.
We enjoy dinner in a local restaurant, before returning to Viareggio tonight.
Day 13: Viareggio to Genoa
We travel to Genoa this morning. With the services of a local guide, we get behind-the-scenes access to the Carlo Felice Theatre. We explore this sparkling, sea-port city, before transferring to our hotel.
We meet for dinner in a local restaurant tonight.
Day 14: Genoa to Milan
This morning, we make our way to Milan.
We visit the Villa Medici Giulini, where we will experience a private concert.
Day 15: Milan
This morning, we visit Teatro Alla Scala – an Opera House that was inaugurated in 1778. We have entrance to the Teatro Alla Scala museum, and we experience a behind-the-scenes tour.
Tonight, we enjoy an Opera here, before returning to our hotel in Milan.
Day 16: Milan
This morning we take a coach to Cremona. We visit a local violin maker. We also have entrance to the Stradivari Museum.
We return to Milan this evening and enjoy dinner in a local restaurant.
Day 17: Verona
This morning, we travel by coach to Verona. We view the city’s main sights, including Juliet’s house. We have entrance to the Arena. The Arena di Verona is a Roman amphitheatre famed for its large-scale opera performances. The building was begun in AD 30, and, despite damage caused by events such as the 1117 major earthquake, remains a very well-preserved ancient structure.
Dinner will be at a local restaurant tonight.
Day 18: Venice
Today, we travel to Venice by private boat. Once we arrive, we have time to explore it at leisure, before meeting at la Fenice Opera Theatre for a guided tour. Afterwards, we stroll to our hotel.
Dinner is at a local restaurant tonight.
Day 19: Venice
Today, we experience a walking tour of Venice. We visit the main sights, including the Music Museum. We also take an Antonio Vivaldi tour.
We spend our final evening at leisure in picture-perfect Venice.
Day 20: Venice
Our tour concludes after breakfast.
Includes / Excludes
What’s included in our Tour
- 19 nights of accommodation.
- 19 breakfasts and dinners as listed on the itinerary.
- Entrances and tipping.
- All travel is in modern, air-conditioned coaches.
- Services of a Tour Leader for the duration of tour.
- Detailed information booklet.
What’s not included in our Tour
- Comprehensive international travel insurance.
- International flights.
- Items of personal nature such as table drinks, laundry, telephone calls, and medical expenses.
Participants must be able to carry their own luggage, climb and descend stairs, be in good health, mobile and able to participate in 3-5 hours of physical activity per day, the equivalent of walking / hiking up to 8 kilometers per day on uneven ground.
Make it a private tour
Book With Confidence
If less than 30 days before your tour starts you are unable to travel as a result of Government travel restrictions, Odyssey Traveller will assist you with a date change, provide you with a credit or process a refund for your booking less any non-recoverable costs.
See Terms and conditions for details.
Peace of Mind Travel
The safety of our travellers, tour leader, local guide and support staff has always been our top priority and with the new guidelines for public health and safety for keeping safe for destinations around the world, we’ve developed our plan to give you peace of mind when travelling with us.
See Peace of Mind Travel for details.
Reading List Download PDF
Puccini: The Great Composers
Puccini and Verdi are unquestionably the two giants of 19th-century Italian grand opera. Like Verdi, Puccini knew what his audience wanted, and supplied it – in Puccini's case, a highly coloured world of sweeping emotion, melodrama shot through with a kind of sadism. His three greatest operas, La Bohème – the most popular opera ever written – Tosca and Madama Butterfly are invariably staged every year, while Turandot, La fanciulla del West, Manon Lescaut, and Gianni Schicchi appear only scarcely less often.
Ever the hard-drinking, chain-smoking sportsman, Puccini had much of the raffish playboy about him. He bought himself fast cars, yachts named after the works whose proceeds financed them, and built a magnificent house at Torre del Largo where he continued his womanising under the jealous eye of his wife, Elvira. Michael Steen's narrative follows the progress of the small boy stealing the organ pipes of his village church on the rocky road to fame to become this larger-than-life figure.
Supported for several years by his publisher Ricordi, Puccini's first real hit was Manon Lescaut, heavily influenced by Massenet. Subsequent success saw him joining the jet set, and travelling to England and America, his star only eclipsed by the First World War. But his appeal remains clear and direct, as the director Jonathan Miller says: ‘I'm made to cry by Puccini and I never am by Verdi.’
By Michael Steen
Plot Synopses of Puccini's Operas: La Bohème, Tosca, Madame Butterfly
Originally published in 1916 as portions of the author’s larger “The Opera Book,” this Kindle edition, equivalent in length to a physical book of approximately 16 pages, summarizes the plots of Puccini’s most famous operas: “La Bohème,” “Tosca,” and “Madame Butterfly.” Includes a brief sketch of Puccini’s life.
Puccini: His Life & Music
Puccini is one of the most beloved of all opera composers – La Bohème, Tosca, Madama Butterfly and Turandot play to packed opera houses the world over. In his lifetime he achieved an international celebrity accorded to only a few, yet the critics were rarely impressed. He was nevertheless a creative artist of profound sensitivity and dramatic flair who developed a unique form of free-flowing opera while penning some of the greatest melodies of all time. His oeuvre constitutes the final flowering of the centuries-old tradition of Italian opera while also being an influence on cinema music then in its infancy. This music companion provides a compelling overview of the constant tension created between Puccini’s indulgent, sometimes traumatic personal life and his need to achieve exceptionally high standards in its work.
By Julian Haylock
Puccini Among Friends
Puccini was an Italian, a musician, highly strung, temperamental, diffident and easily discouraged, changing quickly from exaltation to despair.
Nearly all of Puccini's biographers remark on his distaste for writing letters, nevertheless when my mother died nearly two years ago I found amongst her papers more than seven hundred letters from him, all written during the last twenty years of his life. From these I have selected, in whole or in part, some three hundred letters to form the basis of this memoir. In no sense of the word can it be considered a formal biography, but rather a portrait, largely
self-drawn, of a very lovable character, and the record of a
singularly beautiful friendship.
By Vincent Seligman
The Complete Puccini: The Story of the World's Most Popular Operatic Composer
La Boheme, Tosca, Turandot, Madama Butterfly - Puccini's operas are among the most frequently performed in the standard repertoire. 'Nessun dorma' and other Puccini arias have achieved great levels of fame and recognition. Puccini was a contradictory character - apparently cavalier in his approach to life, with his many affairs with women, but also subject to feelings of great depression. Kendell explores Puccini through his music - confident at first when he emerged as a promising young talent, cautious and uncertain after the failure of his second opera had endangered his career, gradually more assured as he became established as a leading musical figure, then, at the end, anxious to complete his final work before it was too late. Kendell tells the story of the world's most popular operatic composer, progressing through the operas, their plots and how they were composed. He recounts it all in a simple way with explanations of operatic terms so that no expert knowledge is required.
By Colin Kendall
Puccini’s Operas For Beginners
The opera’s of Puccini described for those who are considering becoming opera fans.
By Gianni Truvianni