Countries Italy Lucca Opera Festivals

Lucca: Puccini and Art in Tuscany

Inspiration is an awakening, a quickening of all man's faculties, and it is manifested in all high artistic achievements

Giacomo Puccini
with
Charles Barber
Having graduated with a Bachelors of Law from the University of Edinburgh, Charles Barber embarked on what became a twenty-year career in the media and publishing business at Butterworths Tolley and The Economist. Charles has a History of Art qualification from Birkbeck, University of London, where he also received his MA in Renaissance Studies. Charles is studying continuity and innovation in Italian Renaissance Art at the Courtauld Institute of Art. His areas of interest include the visual, material and social culture of Northern Italian courts and the art and architecture of Rome from 1500-1700.
What's included...
  • Return flights on British Airways (economy) to Pisa
  • 4 nights in the luxurious 4-star Hotel Palazzo Alexander
  • 4 breakfasts, 2 lunches and 4 dinners (lunch and dinner with wine, water and coffee included)
  • 1st category tickets to two Puccini operas at Torre del Lago
  • All church, museum & gallery entry tickets
  • The services of your lecturer and tour manager
  • A tour-guide headset system to make hearing the lecturer easier
  • Transport by luxury coach, as the itinerary requires
  • All tips and taxes
Hotel
Hotel Palazzo Alexander
Getting about
Participants should be reasonably fit. There is a significant amount of
walking, standing and use of stairs.
Inspirational tours frequently booked together
Lucca's history stretches back to the Etruscan and ancient Roman times, though it was during the medieval period that Lucca truly came into its own, retaining much of its architecture from that time. Its famous defensive walls that encircle this beautiful medieval city were not built until the end of the Renaissance and were only completed in 1650. Today, they have been turned into a glorious green space on which to enjoy a stroll. Lucca's great era was in the Gothic era just before the Renaissance, and the city contains much marvellous architecture from then. Lucca remained an independent city-state until the late 18th-century. Giacomo Puccini, whose operas we have come to experience, was born in Lucca. 

This Sapienza Travel tour of Lucca covers the history of a city and the art which its culture produced as we visit palaces, climb towers and enter magnificent churches. On two evenings, we enjoy Puccini operas in the atmospheric setting of Torre del Lago. We also make time available to experience the food and wine of the region in excellent restaurants and with an outing to a winery in the Luccan countryside.
Arriving in Pisa mid-morning, we have lunch together before visiting the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the Cathedral containing Pisano's era-defining pulpit and the Baptistery. We then take our coach to Lucca where we check into the Hotel Palazzo Alexander for four nights. We dine together at a local restaurant

 
We spend our morning walking along the historic walls of the city and meander through its medieval streets. The church of San Michele in Foro is so named because it is built in the area that was the forum during ancient Rome's presence in the city. The church is notable for its fine facade which has at its summit a statue of the Archangel Michael, the patron saint of the church. Time is available for those who would like to climb to the top of the Guinigi Tower which affords stunning views of Lucca. The afternoon is spent at Torre del Lago where we visit Puccini's home. We dine in Torre del Lago tonight.

 
This morning we spend time at the Fattoria del Teso sampling local delicacies and enjoying a wine-tasting experience, before enjoying lunch together at the vineyard. On our return to Lucca, a visit to the Palazzo Mansi museum takes place. The museum contains a range of tapestries and Risorgimento art, much of it displayed in the formal apartments which the Mansi family occupied when living in the palazzo.  We then drive to Torre del Lago for dinner when a special guest may join us. Tonight, we enjoy Puccini's Turandot at the Torre del Lago open-air theatre.
 
Following breakfast, we walk through the medieval streets of Lucca to visit the Duomo dedicated to Saint Martin. Inside there are artworks including, Domenico Ghirlandaio's Madonna and Child with Saints Peter, Clement, Paul and Sebastian; Federico Zuccari's Adoration of the Magi, Jacopo Tintoretto's Last Supper, and finally Fra Bartolomeo's Madonna and Child. The holiest relic in Lucca resides in the Duomo; the Holy Face of Lucca, which is a cedar-wood crucifix and image of Christ, according to the legend, was carved by his contemporary Nicodemus, and miraculously conveyed to Lucca in 782. The next stop on our day is the Basilica of San Frediano, who was an Irish saint and whose relics are buried in the church. In the 13th-14th centuries, the striking façade was decorated with a huge golden 13th-century mosaic representing The Ascension of Christ the Saviour with the apostles below. We then spend time in the Guinigi Museum which contains a veritable feast of artworks spanning the International High Gothic through to Neo-classicism. Artists featured include Jacopo della Quercia, Giorgio Vasari, Guido Reni and Lanfranco. After dinner in Torre del Lago, a night of drama unfolds as Tosca is performed against the lakeside backdrop. 
 
This morning, we breakfast and check-out of our hotel in time for our coach return to Pisa airport. We arrive in London early afternoon.
 
The Palazzo Alexander Hotel is located just inside Lucca's historic walls. Lucca Cathedral and Guinigi Tower are both just a 10-minute walk away. ​As it is a historic building the rooms are slightly different in size and have different outlooks.

Flights - If you would like to fly BA Club class, please contact us and we will provide a price for the upgrade.

Travel advice - Please refer the Foreign Office's website to make sure you are comfortable with the travel advice they provide for the destination(s) you are visiting. www.fco.gov.uk 

Activity level - Our tours involve a lot of walking, climbing stairs and standing still for periods of time. The historic centres of cities are often uneven and cobbled requiring everyone to be confident walking across them.
with
Charles Barber
Having graduated with a Bachelors of Law from the University of Edinburgh, Charles Barber embarked on what became a twenty-year career in the media and publishing business at Butterworths Tolley and The Economist. Charles has a History of Art qualification from Birkbeck, University of London, where he also received his MA in Renaissance Studies. Charles is studying continuity and innovation in Italian Renaissance Art at the Courtauld Institute of Art. His areas of interest include the visual, material and social culture of Northern Italian courts and the art and architecture of Rome from 1500-1700.
with
Christina Helmsley
Christina Hemsley is a writer and film producer with a background in music, theatre and art. Brought up in London by an Italian mother, Christina studied the piano and singing at Trinity College of Music in Marylebone while still at school. Later, she won a choral scholarship to Trinity College, Cambridge, where she took her degree in English. After graduating, she sang professionally, including in the chorus at The Festival della Valle D'Itria at Martina Franca in Puglia.

Since post-graduate studies at the Motley School of Theatre Design in Drury Lane, she has designed costume, sets and sound for productions in London and Edinburgh. When not working on projects as a freelance television journalist, she continues to perform on the piano, mainly in private house concerts.

Her book of poetry, A Room in the Korean Museum, was published in 2017.
Hotel Palazzo Alexander
The Hotel Palazzo Alexander is a small boutique hotel in a historic building in the centre of Lucca, with easy access from Porta San Donato. The hotel is well situated inside Lucca's city walls and only a ten-minute walk to the Guinigi Tower and Lucca's cathedral. The rooms have antique floors and marble bathrooms,l.



 
Featured tours
from £1,695 per person
Book this tour
Duration: 5 days
from £1,695 per person
Tour Dates:
Tour with our expert guides
Featured guides
Thomas Abbott
6 tours available
Charles Barber
2 tours available
Veronique Biddell
1 tours available
Clare Ford-Wille
5 tours available
Kathryn Hallam Howard
1 tours available
Graham Harris
1 tours available
Christina Helmsley
1 tours available
Janis Kelly
3 tours available
Sarah McBryde
3 tours available
Victoria Tate
1 tours available
Georgina Trevelyan-Clark
1 tours available
Tim Wright
3 tours available