CRUMBS AND crotchets, ON THE TRAIL OF THE GREAT MASTER
“Dearest Mother, […] I need a thing but I’m worry to tell you, because I understand that you can not spend. But listen to me, it’s a trifle. Because I have a great desire of beans (actually, one day my masters of the house made them for me, but I could not eat them due to the oil that is here of sesame or linseed!), So, I said… I would need a little of the new oil. Would you please send me a bit? Just a little, I promised to do taste also to those at home. So if my gremiadi will yield, you will do a kindness (I’m so happy, and we are only talking about oil!) sending me a box, which costs four pounds by Eugenio Ottolini, who recently sent it also to the tenor Papeschi. […] “
Who wrote thus to his mother was a young, talented and greedy… Puccini, from Milan, where he was studying at the Conservatory.
Music and Flavours. Nature and City. Sea and Mountain. We follow Giacomo Puccini in this rich and colorful journey through the province of Lucca.
Lover of good food, hunting, oil and wine of his beloved hills, Puccini is a perfect guide through the territory and its flavors.
The Mountain: Cells
His ancestors lived in Celle, in the north of the province into a valley among the mountains of Lucca, from the first half of the eighteenth century. Their house in the centre of the village, became today a house-museum. In the early ‘900 James’s parents moved towards Lucca. Even after the family moved to town, the farms continued to supply them with the good products of this land.
Celle dei Puccini is a place rich in chestnut woods. For centuries, these forests have been an inexhaustible source of food and timber that was used to build roofs, huts, floors, tools, furniture… Even today in autumn people collect chestnuts, they bring them into the “metati” for the drying, and then they make cake flour. In this way begins the story of the castagnaccio and of all those traditional dishes that contain this generous fruit as main ingredient.
in Colognora, a village not far from Celle, there is also a Chestnut Museum, a very suggestive place which tells the story of this “tree of bread” and of the people of the valley. It was wanted by the passion of the inhabitants of these areas, who in 1978 gathered in a committee and wanted to recreate an environment where they could find again the creative skills and all the work life experiences of their fathers.
The city and the countryside: Lucca, Mutigliano, S. Martino in Colle
When Puccini family moved to the city, went to live in that house in the old town that was the birthplace of the Master, and that today is the location ofPuccinimuseum. The door is hidden in a small courtyard, as there are many in Lucca, not far from the imposing church of San Michele.
Giacomo spent his youth among the city, the countryside and the hill ofMutigliano, on the border between the valley of Lucca and the coast of Versilia. There is where he spent his summer holidays and where he received his early work assignments as organist of the parish. There he tasted all those typical products of Lucca countryside: Oil , Beans, Wine.
There are many varieties of beans that are grown in this area, but the most peculiar of these lands is “the red bean of Lucca”, and exist a traditional recipe that is still prepared, called “fagioli al fiasco” that who knows… maybe was also known and appreciated by the Maestro.
We already know his love for the good extrvergine oil, that is produced throughout the entire hill, but he was most of all interested in the care of the vineyards: he cultivated them, and often popped into see his childhood friends, to chat over a glass of wine. Lino Micheloni, musician too, was particularly dear to him, and, being a real musician, he corked the flasks with music paper. That wine is still of great quality, and today this territory is part of the production area of the D.O.C. wine of Lucca hills.
He appreciated a lot even the wine of San Martino in Colle, a village in the district of Capannori, on the border with Montecarlo, where it is still produced the D.O.C. Montecarlo white and red. He often asked her sister for it, and his brother-in-law sent it in Milan for him, during his long stays.
The Sea: Massaciuccoli and the Versilia
What moved Puccini to settle for several years in a house (now became a museum) in Torre del Lago on the banks of the Lake of Massaciuccoli, was certainly his love for the quiet. Puccini loved to take refuge in places far from the busy city, to write in serenity and cultivate his passions. Hunting in particular, that he practiced into private reserves that came to the shores of the lake. Today you can go to “hunt” within the reserve, but armed only with binoculars, feeling so in the company of the Maestro in an attempt to catch sight of and admire the most rare and valuable species. The hunt around the lake is no longer permitted, and the area has become a LIPU nature reserve, which protects endangered birds and welcomes flocks of migratory birds that every year spend periods of rest on the Lake, in the natural quiet that the park offers.
After the villa on the lake, Puccini moved on the coast, in Viareggio, into a stylish home close to other homes of friends, artists, writers, painters, potters, actors.
Viareggio was at the time a small fishing village, but the fragrant pine forests rich in game, the bright lights, the wide beaches where they were beginning to build facilities, at the beginning of ‘900 began to gain notoriety.
The promenade is even now a walk through the Art Nouveau architecture , in a trendy town, with very fine examples of decorative ceramics and painting.
To conclude this journey of art and flavors you can certainly take advantage of the excellent restaurants and trattorias with their menu of fish “in season”, from fish soup to fried boat.