August Doings in Tuscany

foto aldo umicini pucciniano 2008  tosca
Tosca at the Puccini Opera Festival

A vibrant cultural program complements the beach scene in Tuscany during August, offering art, photography, opera and jazz.  The following is a guide to 2015 events.


Just a stone’s throw away from the villa he resided in, the annual Puccini Festival in Torre del Lago is a celebration devoted to his artistic production that will continue through August 28.

Tours of Puccini’s villa (located at Viale Puccini 266; €7) are available daily until 8 pm during the festival for those who wish to understand the man with the musical mastermind.  His presence is still felt strongly inside the house, which remains how it looked while occupied, including his upright piano in the front room used for composing Madame Butterfly, pictures of himself and a soundtrack of his works playing softly in the background.

For a live performance of his works, the nearby Open Air Theatre on the lake is hosting productions of Tosca, Madame Butterfly, and Turandot; for information see


High in the Serchio River Valley above Lucca, the Barga Jazz Festival covers the entire month of August.  The inauguration is scheduled on August 5 near Borgo a Mozzano, followed by performances at Gallicano (August 7) and Coreglia Antelminelli  (August 11).  Competitions, master classes and concerts dedicated to jazz compositions and arrangements with a special focus this year on the music of the late British jazz pianist John Taylor will turn Barga into a daily jam session from August 18 – 29.  Daily events on


Near Lido di Camaiore, at Villa Le Pianore in Capezzano Pianore, a selection of candid shots portraying Pablo Picasso at home and in his studio, taken during the last 17 years of his life by American photojournalist David Douglas Duncan, are on display daily with free admission from 5 to 11 pm.

A correspondent for Life magazine and National Geographic, Duncan is best known for his pictures of WWII and the Korean war as well as for his portrayals of Picasso, to whom he was introduced by fellow photojournalist Robert Capa.


The post-Macchiaioli movement and its host of artists, who linger in relative obscurity, are brought to light in the exhibition entitled “The Passion of Color” at Seravezza’s Medici villa spotlighting Mario Puccini (open 5 pm – midnight Monday through Friday and 10:30 am – 12:30 pm, 5 pm – midnight Saturday and Sunday, admission €6).

Dubbed the “Italian Van Gogh, Tuscan artist Puccini (1869-1920), modified Divisionism, a close cousin of Pointillism, to fit his own style, sweeping the canvas with longer, thicker brush strokes instead of the tiny dots. Chunky orange and yellow rectangles are stacked one on top of the next to form the sunset spilling out onto the water in many of his paintings featuring the port of Livorno.

The Macchiaioli vision Puccini learned from and would emulate and expand upon is the theme of the show at Viareggio’s Centro Matteucci.  The retrospective entirely dedicated to Silvestro Lega (1826-1895), is called “History of a Soul, Discoveries & Revelations” (via d’Annunzio 28, open Tues- Sat.  5 pm – 11 pm, on Sun. 10 am – 1 pm, 5 – 11 pm, admission € 5), which comprise portraits done during the artist’s youth to the increasingly realist and naturalist works of his mature period.

Comparable to the subsequent French Impressionism, works from this late 19th century movement, named for “macchie” used to describe loose brushstrokes lending above all a sparkling quality.  Composed of multiple layers, and a marked separation between the foreground and the background, canvases of this period capture the interplay of natural light.  (samantha nickel, bianca cockrell & rosanna cirigliano)