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Enjoying The Opera Guided By Experts

Italian Cities

Italy only became a united country in 1861. Before this it consisted of numerous regions and city states. Indeed, parts of Italy were fought over by other countries notably Austria and France, and Italians often have a greater loyalty to their region than to their country.

Verdi was a great supporter of unification and one of his pieces, the chorus 'va pensiero' became an anthem for this movement. Italian cities display a bewildering wealth of architecture interspersed with beautiful squares and each has a character of its own.



The beautiful walled city of Lucca in Tuscany was the birthplace of Giacomo Puccini in 1859, but was already a prosperous, established town by 59 BC.

Far enough off the beaten track to have retained much of its original character, it offers beautifully shaded walks among its many churches, towers and, of course, its city walls.

Cafes and restaurants abound, especially in the glorious Piazza dell'Anfiteatro, an oval piazza built on the remains of the Roman amphitheatre. In fact, the whole area is famed for its cuisine and fine wine.

And of course, there are shops offering something for every taste, from chic Italian boutiques to rustic family bakers.

Torre del Lago

A short distance from Lucca is Torre del Lago. This was where Puccini built his villa, quite modest by today's standards but set near Lake Massaciuccoli where he hunted regularly. Today the lake provides a stunning backdrop for performances of his operas.

View Map of Lucca



Verona is a superbly stylish city with a range of elegant shops and lovely restaurants. At it's centre is the impressive Arena, a Roman ampitheatre built in 30 AD, one of many Roman remains. This Arena forms the magnificent setting for the opera festival throughout the summer.

Verona has an array of beautiful churches including St Anastasia and the grand Cathedral. It has an excellent museum set by the river Adige flowing by the side of the old city which has always been important in the administration of Northern Italy. Many delicious types of Valpolicella wine come from the area.

Interestingly, three of Shakespeare's plays are set in Verona: Romeo and Juliet ; The Two Gentlemen of Verona and The Taming of the Shrew.

View Map of Verona


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