Puccini’s love for Torre del Lago was so great that he had a villa built for himself on the shores of Lake Massaciuccoli. After having bought and old house/tower in 1891, he turned it over to architects Luigi De Servi and Plinio Nomellini and engineer Giuseppe Puccinelli, who worked together to restore it. From the ruins emerged a beautiful liberty style villa, with a rectangular base, built on two floors using simple and linear shapes. The English gardens that surround the villa are accessible through a bay window, made of glass and iron.
The inside boasts a Galileo Chini fireplace, Bugatti and Tiffany furniture and a red, gold and blue lacunar ceiling, as well as a Foster grand piano. The ground floor also houses a chapel, where Puccini was buried in 1926. The house has been transformed into the Villa Puccini Museum, and is open to members of the public.
The beauty of the Versilian countryside and the tranquillity of the region has attracted more than one famous family to the shores of Lake Massaciuccoli over the years. Villa Orlando, which neighbours Villa Puccini, was built in 1869 and is of neo-gothic design, with pointed arches and a slate roof. On the opposite shore, in Piaggetta, is Villa Ginori, built between the 19th and 20th centuries. Both are private residences and are not open to the public.
The Civil Museums of Villa Paolina
Situated in the summer residence of Paolina Bonaparte, the Civil Museums of Villa Paolina are home to the Alberto Carlo Blanc Civil Prehistoric and Archaeological Museum, opened in 1986, the Lorenzo Viano Picture Gallery and the Giovanni Ciuffreda Museum of Musical Instruments, opened together in 1994.
The picture gallery was founded in 1974 by the comune of Viareggio, and was only later moved to Villa Paolina in 1994. It is laid out in chronological order and features descriptive panels, images, prints and slides. It is spread out over 4 rooms and comprises of 64 pieces that are inherent examples of figurative contemporary art. The Museum of Musical Instruments occupies 6 rooms and exhibits around 400 instruments, including the Pochette, a tiny 17th century pocket violin; an 18th century Neapolitan mandolin; and a collection of instruments gathered from countries outside of Europe.
Photos © APT Versilia