Rossini - from Pesaro but through his music a true European
Pesaro is hosting a great calendar of events to celebrate the life, the music and the works of Gioachino Rossini. Every year the Rossini Opera Festival is organized in Pesaro, and lovers of his music reach the city to enjoy operas and other events. Rossini was based in multiple locations throughout his life, in Naples he was working on 'Wilhelm Tell', and later years in the countryside Passy, near Paris. But Pesaro was always in his heart, as he left most of his inheritance to the city of Pesaro to establish a music school. Furthermore, the birthplace house of the composer was transformed into a museum. So if you decide to visit Italy make sure you visit Pesaro and the ‘Rossiniani’ places.
Pesaro, itself is worth a visit, as it has some stunning sights and has managed to keep its medieval charm, and as you wander through the narrow lanes, you hear Rossini music being played everywhere. Pesaro has a varied history.During the Renaissance Pesaro was ruled by a succession of lords: the Malatesta (1285-1445), the Sforza (1445-1512) and the Della Rovere (1513-1631) which chose Pesaro as the capital of their duchy.
Many important public and private buildings and of a new defensive wall were erected. In 1631 the city returned to the Pope until 1860, when it was annexed to the new Italian State.
Some of the highlights to see in Pesaro is the Rocca Costanza, the Villa Imperiale and the Ruggeri House. Built in 1400 on a previous fortification of the Malatesta family, Rocca Costanza was erected in pure military style given its purpose to defend the city from external incursions. Sponsored by Costanzo Sforza, who commissioned it from the architect Luciano Laurana, it was later enlarged by Cesare Borgia in 1500. During its history,the Rocca was also the seat of the city prison. The Villa Imperiale of Pesaro is a suburban palatial house outside of Pesaro, built and decorated by artists of the late-Renaissance. It is now a private residence but the fresco-ed rooms and elaborate gardens are available to visit. The Ruggeri House is a Liberty style villa located in the town of Pesaro. It was constructed between 1902 and 1907 for the pharmaceutical industrialist Oreste Ruggeri and his family as a retreat. The architect was Giuseppe Brega. The house is three storeys high. The front facade with the balcony has very ornate floral art nouveau stucco decorations with the monogram of the owner. The paint is in light green and white.
Visit Lucca - the hometown of Giacomo Puccini
Lucca's best sights have marks left by its ancient history: from the traces of the Roman amphitheater visible in the form of Piazza dell'Anfiteatro, from the archaeological remains found under the church of San Giovanni e Reparata dating back to the XII century (the first cathedral in the city, located around the corner of the current Cathedral of San Martino) up to the various towers and villas built between the XII and XVI centuries.
The paved streets and the characteristic alleys represent the beating heart of a lively and sparkling Lucca, always full of kids and people who walk there at any time of the day, looking at the windows of the beautiful shops that adorn Via Fillungo for example, the most important street of the historical center. Via Fillungo is an unmissable destination for those looking for luxury, craft products and quality that distinguishes Made in Italy, to be discovered in this exclusive street in the historic center of Lucca.
Why not pause for a quick lunch or aperitivo at "Il Bernino" in Via Fillunga. "Il Bernino" is a great cafe/ bar located in Via Fillunga with great food and wine selection. Eat alfresco and chill and watch life go by.
Alternatively, if you walk back to Piazza dell' Anfiteatro, explore the menu at l'Angolo Tondo, based right on the piazza.
Torre del Lago - Puccini Festival
Torre del Lago Puccini is a captivating village near Viareggio, not far from Lucca and Pisa. It's named for the lakeside tower that was built here in the 1300s. The tower was originally called Torre Guinigi and then Torre del Turco, but was renamed in 1938 to honor the town's native son, Giacomo Puccini, composer of some of the world's best known operas. Torre del Lago puts on a major music festival in its elaborate outdoor theatre, performing four of Puccini's operas every summer in the beautiful lake-side setting.
Puccini defined this area as a haven of tranquility, the lake is peaceful and a good place for a relaxing holiday. Puccini transformed an old lakeside watchtower into a villa, now a museum, and wrote many of his works there. In summer, the spectacular event the Puccini Festival is held at the lake side. Tickets are much sought after, and it is event not to be missed for any Puccini Opera lover.
Lucca's central position within Tuscany, make it a great location from which to explore other cities and the coast in Tuscany, such as San Gimignano, Pisa, Florence and along the coast Viareggio and Livorno.
Giuseppe Verdi - Bosseto and Parma in the Emiglia Romana
Bosseto and Roncole - Verdi's hometowns
Verdi lived most of his live in the area of Bosseto, where he had his house, and even farmed his own land. Bosseto itself, is a small community of 7,000 inhabitants, and has some beautiful landmarks to visit, such as the Rocca Pallavicino, a fortress in the eleventh century, and rebuilt in 1857, and houses today the Teatro Verdi, and is now also the Municipal Palace. A number of places which are associated with Giuseppe Verdi are worth visiting, such the house he was born in, the Casa Natale in Roncole, about 6 km from Bosseto, the Villa Verdi in Sant'Agata by Bosseto, where he lived with this second wife and Palazzo Orlandi, a house Verdi lived in prior to Sant'Agata.
The annual Verdi Festival is held at Brosseto and Parma each year around September/October. So this would represent a fabulous opportunity to visit this beautiful region, either staying in a hotel in Brosseto, such as the Hotel I due Foscari, or if basing yourself in Parma, there is a large range of hotels to choose from, modern or more traditional. Alternatively, you may be interested in renting a holiday villa, to enjoy also the countryside, but close to Bosseto and Parma.
Parma - not only famous for Verdi but a gourmet destination
Obviously Parma is not just known for the annual Verdi Festival, but also a famous university city in Italy's Emilia-Romagna region, notably famed for Parmesan cheese and Parma ham.
With its rich Romanesque buildings and romantic alleys, and the range of world class museums and most amazing delicatessen stores and restaurants, it is a must place to visit. Why not combine attending the Verdi festival with a food and wine tour, or even a cooking course to learn all about the great cuisine of Emiglia Romagna.
Start your visit to Parma from Piazza del Duomo, one of the most beautiful (but less known) in the world.
Not far away is the Palazzo della Pilotta which in one shot allows you to visit two masterpieces: the Farnese Theater and the National Gallery, with works by Beato Angelico, Leonardo da Vinci, Guercino, El Greco, Tintoretto, Tiepolo, Van Dick and many others. Correggio and Parmigianino are famous painters and their work can be admired at the dome of the Duomo and that of the Monastery of San Giovanni; Parmigianino's frescoes of the Basilica of Santa Maria della Steccata are breathtaking to look at. Other must sees are the Teatro Regio di Parma (for the Verdi Festival), the Camera di San Paolo a Parma within the Monastero di San Paolo a Parma containing a masterpiece of the Renaissance, a fresco by Correggio, the Galleria Nazionale di Parma and the Palazzo della Pilotta e Parma.
To have a rest for lunch or dinner, try the typical Parmesan cuisine at Cocchi. Founded in 1925 by Paride Cocchi, the restaurant has been able to keep intact the friendly and hospitable atmosphere, combined with the mastery in the Emilian cuisine. The credit for all this goes to the patron Corrado Cocchi who together with his son Daniele and all the staff meticulously takes care of every detail.
Of course the Parma region is famous for some of Italy's finest quality food products, and therefore why not take the opportunity to visit the Food Museums: for Parmegiano Reggiano located in Soragna, the museum for culatello di Zibollo in Polesine Zibello, the Barilla Pasta and Tomato , followed by the wine and salame museums, as well as the Prosciutto di Parma museum. An ideal “road of taste” that runs throughout the province of Parma. The Food Museums of Parma are scattered throughout the territory, creating an itinerary that in one or more days allows you to visit all the museums.
A lifetime experience - Verdi at the Arena di Verona
Although a different region of Italy, we thought we should mention the Verdi performances at the Arena di Verona. In June this year, 'Aida' and in July 'Nabucco', followed by 'La Traviata' in August will be performed at the Arena di Verona. For Verdi lovers an absolute highlight. Verona is a stunning city to visit and to stay; alternatively you can stay a few kilometers from Verona at the Byblos Art Hotel in the hear of the Valpolicella wine region. This hotel encompasses a beautiful park, pool area but is know for its modern art collection and fine cuisine.