The villas on the Lake of Massaciuccoli
Posted On March 14, 2020
The Lake of Massaciuccoli:
Before starting our journey back in time and telling you about the ancient villas that overlook the shores of Lake Massaciuccoli, I would like to inform you that in 2017 the practices for the candidacy of the Lake, a UNESCO heritage site, were started.
The Lake brings with it an enormous environmental, historical and landscape value. Not only does it represent an added value from the tourism point of view for the Tuscany region – certainly to be developed and enhanced even more – but also an indissoluble bond with the roots of the whole surrounding territory.
Lake of Massaciuccoli
It is precisely on the shores of the lake that, over time, poets, painters and writers have found the inspiration to create their own works of art. Surrounded by the Apuan Alps and placed in the context of the Migliarino San Rossore-Massaciuccoli Park, it watches over its “breath” over our region. It is a bit like an old friend, who is now part of our life.
The Lake of Puccini
Speaking of Lake Massaciuccoli, the mind flies to the memory of Maestro Giacomo Puccini and to the house he built on the shore of the Lake, in the town of Torre del Lago. For this reason, the lake is also known as “Il Lago di Puccini”.
Giacomo Puccini was born in Lucca in 1858, from a family of musicians. He studied at the Conservatory of Lucca and later in that of Milan. In 1884 his first opera “Le Villi” was staged with great success.
He arrived in Torre del Lago in the summer of 1891, looking for a place to spend the summer holidays.
What to say, he fell in love with what was then only a small village of fishermen and hunters, lying along the shores of Lake Massaciuccoli, between Pisa and Viareggio. So, with the first earnings he bought a piece of land and built his house there.
Despite the fame and work commitments he often took around the world, he always returned to Torre del Lago, where he lived for more than 20 years. It is here that he composed some of his most famous works: Manon Leascaut, La Bohème, La rondine, Turandot (the unfinished work *).
* It was Franco Alfano who completed the Turandot that was and was performed at the Teatro La Scala in Milan, two years after the death of the great Maestro.
Giacomo Puccini died in Brussels in 1924, after a throat operation. His remains rest today in the family chapel, inside the Villa Museum in Torre del Lago.
There are three ancient villas overlooking Lake Massaciuccoli. They represent some of the places to visit, if you are near the Lake.
I’m talking about Villa Puccini, Villa Orlando and Villa Ginori. Are you ready for a trip back in time, made of beauty and memories? Come with me.
If I think back to my visit to the Giacomo Puccini Villa Museum in Torre del Lago, believe me, I still have goose bumps! The place is beautiful. I regret not having pictures of the interior of the house to show you, unfortunately the photos are forbidden, but I hope in these few lines to be able to convey to you the emotion and the charm that this enchanted place has had on me.
The Villa Museum has a simple rectangular structure and is spread over two floors. It is possible to visit only the ground floor.
The garden has a wooden veranda, once an external dining room. The flower beds are well maintained and full of blooming tulips! I expect, at any moment, to see a nineteenth-century lady come out, from one of the doors overlooking the patio!
From some old photographs, it is possible to see how in the past the waters of the lake lapped the Master’s villa, which was equipped with a small boathouse.
On the veranda, it is possible to admire a wooden display case, containing some objects belonging to the master: glasses, pencils and an ashtray. The notes of the Bohème in the background will fill my head with fantasies but it seems to me that the Maestro is there, around the corner, bent over the old folding desk, writing the last notes of his greatest masterpieces!
The journey inside the Villa continues between the Art Nouveau decorated studio, dating back to the early 1900s. All the furnishings of the room are an authentic testimony of the life of the Master, on the shores of Lake Massaciuccoli. Paintings, photos, portraits, pens, vases, ceramics, drawings, chairs, cushions and the inevitable Forster piano, the Maestro’s favorite, are just a few steps away from me! It’s really exciting!
I’m not looking at them, I believe that a sort of “good energy” is released from these priceless objects and is in some way “observing” and giving me new music that fills my soul!
I highly recommend a visit to this place far from the chaos of our days. You can admire the works and lifestyle of one of the greatest Italian composers up close!
I thank the Simonetta Puccini Foundation for the availability and excellent work of the master Puccini, just a few meters from the shores of Lake Massaciuccoli.
Our journey along the shores of Lake Massaciuccoli continues a few meters from Villa Puccini, also in Torre del Lago. An ancient gate, supported by nineteenth-century walls, opens before my eyes. I travel by car, a long tree-lined avenue, which leads me to the main entrance of the villa.
I am at Villa Orlando, in a 4-hectare park, surrounded by lush vegetation, consisting mainly of palms, pines and oaks. An ancient tower stands on the horizon, near the old dock.
Unfortunately it rains, but I and the Orlando family assistant don’t give up. So, between one drop and another, we shelter a bit with umbrellas, we stop a bit to admire the surrounding landscape. Even if she sees it every day, for me it’s the first time … and I feel like I’m in a dream!
The green of the plants that lap the shores of the lake, blends with the gray of its waters and the raindrops make the atmosphere even more magical. We leave the lake behind us and approach the villa. A staircase adorned with lions leads to the main entrance, while a large terrace decorated with two sphinxes opens onto the lake.
I enter the house, on tiptoe, almost not wishing to wake up the time that seems to have stopped here. I lose myself, among the stories of the Orlando family that still lives here, their history, family heirlooms, furniture, paintings and art objects. I admit that I wouldn’t want to leave anymore!
But it’s late and tomorrow we will celebrate a wedding and the villa will have to show even more its ancient splendor! If you too want to get married at Villa Orlando send an email to [email protected]
I warmly thank the Orlando family for the availability and the wonderful day spent on the shores of Lake Massaciuccoli!
We are in Quiesa, in the municipality of Massarosa. Here Lake Massaciuccoli seems to be one with the Villa, also known as “La Piaggetta”.
Villa Ginori La Piaggetta
Carlo Ginori, son of Lorenzo Ginori, founder of the homonymous factory, in 1896 sold the property to Augustus Richard, obtaining to maintain his surname linked to the family brand (Richard-Ginori).
It was in those years that he bought “la piaggetta” from the Minutoli accounts: an old hunting reserve with a private dock for mooring boats on the lake.
Carlo Ginori starts an important renovation work that will give the old hunting post, the current appearance of a period villa, in liberty style, surrounded by a park full of palm trees and other botanical species that he himself imported East.
The villa was also very dear to Maestro Giacomo Puccini, who made a profound friendship with the Ginori family. This villa is very dear to me too. This is where I celebrated my marriage.
When we learned that it was possible to get married there, by the lake, my future husband and I had no doubts: that would have been the place where we would have said “Yes”!
Coming back here after two years was like reliving the excitement of that day.
The villa is now used as an elegant Bed & Breakfast and is still inhabited by the Ginori family. But above all it is a perfect location to celebrate your wedding!
The journey on the shores of Lake Massaciuccoli to discover the natural beauty and its villas, was a journey back in time, through the history of families who find in these places, their roots and their memories.
I spent wonderful hours on the shores of the lake in the company of kind and friendly people who welcomed me into their private residences. I enjoyed this journey, hoping that it would never end, with a child’s curiosity to discover what wonder, some element of the past, was hiding behind the corner.
I thank those who dedicated some of their time to me and made me a part of a story I didn’t know. Thanks to those who made me love even more, my land. So have no doubts about your holidays: Destination? Tuscany!