Lucca is the birthplace and early home of Giacamo (Jacob, we would say in English) Puccini, composer of the most sublime romantic operas. That’s his childhood home to the left of his statue.
If you take the sign behind him at its face value and do the math, you will see that he is also justifiably famous for having lived to 150 years old.
I hear there is something in the local red wine that promotes longevity. I certainly hope so. I consumed enough during my brief visit to add another 15 years to my own life. And I enjoyed every drop of it. Who the hell needs diet and exercise, when there’s all that wonderful wine?
Just as it is impossible to separate the singer from the song, Puccini and Lucca are forever joined. Each is the expression of the other.
The streets of the town are as sinuous and evocative as any of his arias. Narrow streets amble along pleasantly but are suddenly opened up into a bustling square that resemble the opening scene of Act II of in La Boheme.
But unlike the wretched excesses of the Zeffereli version, there are no marching soldiers, no swarm of raucous children, no tranqualized donkey. Ah, but there is a toy vendor. Click on the photo and see.
This is not a Disney version of Puccini’s home. If it were, visitors almost certainly would be confronted at every turn by loudspeakers pumping out Netsum Dorma. Locals dressed as Mimi and Rudolfo would be posing for tourist cameras ( ONLY TWO EUROS!!!). They would vie with a costumed ChoCosan in a lacquered wig and a rayon kimono with a dragon on the back (ONLY ONE EURO!!!!).
No, none of that.
Not when there are the nightly concerts of Puccini’s music in the church where he was baptized and began his composing career. Yes, every night, as part of the festival that celebrates his birth.