Torre del Lago is a village in the municipality of Viareggio, in the province of Lucca, and here the famous Italian composer Giacomo Puccini lived for thirty years. It was here, in his house on the lake, that he wrote his major works, including Tosca (1900), Madame Butterfly (1904), La Fanciulla del West (1910), La Rondine (1917) and Il Trittico (1918). Not far from his house stands the impressive open-air theatre, which every year welcomes the biggest names in international opera. Torre del Lago is also much loved for its marina, which is always teeming in the summer months, thanks to its numerous restaurants and clubs.
To explore the area, which strictly speaking is a district of Viareggio, turn off the long tree-lined viale dei Tigli. This road reaches the heart of the historic centre, where you can restore yourself by sitting in the cool shade of the Borbone pinewood. The centre of Torre del Lago offers many opportunities for visiting what was the Liberty style villa where Giacomo Puccini lived, composed and was eventually buried. Do not miss the church of San Giuseppe, which celebrated the composer's funeral.
From the extremely central piazzale Belvedere you can take a trip to Lake Massaciuccoli and elsewhere in the Migliarino - San Rossore - Massaciuccoli Nature Park, an area protected by the World Wildlife Fund.
Thanks to the series of guided visits that are offered on Lake Massaciuccoli, you can observe various species of plantlife up close, of which the most interesting specimens include the Anacamptis palustris, Chinese hibiscus and the royal fern. The lake is also a vital migration post for many species of birds. On the banks of the lake, a number of stilted huts are set up to allow keen birdwatchers to pursue their hobby.
Not far from Torre del Lago you find Viareggio, with its Liberty style promenades and architecture. Apart from being famed as a bathing town, it also puts on the famous Viareggio Carnival every February, one of the world's most colourful and beloved events.
Also worth visiting are Forte dei Marmi, the home of fashion and luxury tourism that lies at the feet of the Apuan Alps; Pietrasanta, an outdoor museum-city which draws international artists and sculptors; Massarosa, the perfect destination for those who love nature and traditional cuisine; and finally Seravezza, with its magnificent Medici villa.
It is the natural beauties of Torre del Lago, which certainly include the magnificent beach that the Tyrrhenian Sea laps against, that make it such a culturally active place. The rich programme of folk, musical and artistic shows and exhibitions is flagshipped by the Puccini Festival, one of the most famous events in the world, which every summer stages a renowned opera season in the Puccini outdoor theatre, on the banks of Lake Massaciuccoli.
Like all Versilia, Torre del Lago can boast a rich enogastronomic platter based on fish. Among its traditional specialities, one standout is cèe in padella, which is young eels cooked with sage and garlic; also worth trying are the fish soups like the cacciucco alla viareggina, along with spaghetti alla trabaccolara and razor clams. Mallards, wild boar, deer and hare, roasted or in sauces for first courses, also play a big part in the local cuisine.