Indulge yourself in music and pageantry this summer, alongside the rolling hills of Tuscany.
Andrea Bocelli, the renowned Italian opera singer and musician was born in the tiny village of Lajatico in the Tuscan countryside. His passion for Italy and his incredible talent unite each July with an open air concert in the Teatro del Silencio.
The evocative name translates as 'Theatre of Silence' as for 363 days of the year the surroundings remain untouched and silent until on two glorious dates in July (28th and 30th), quite literally, the hills come alive with the sound of music.
It’s a spectacle not to be missed and this year Bocelli will be singing the opera Andrea Chernier, a tragic story of love and death in the French Revolution.
Florence is a superb base for a weekend that climaxes with this fabulous concert. City of the Renaissance with more art and culture per square foot than any other European City, it is an assault on the senses. A place to feast on world class art and gourmet Italian cuisine.
Another fabulous Tuscan summer spectacular is the Palio in Siena - one of the most famous and passionate horse races in the world fiercely contested by the Contrade. It takes place twice every year on the 2nd July and the 16th of August. Ten horses and riders, bareback and dressed in the appropriate colours, represent ten of the seventeen contrade, or city wards.
Historically the race dates back as far as the 6th century. The Palio is much more than a simple event for the Sienese, it is an essential part of their life from birth… and winning is everything. You can’t fail to get caught up in the passion and excitement of the moment as they race round the most stunning and famous Piazza in all Italy, the Piazza del Campo.
What better way to experience this event than by staying in one of the stunning Tuscan Castles that dot the countryside outside Siena? Dating as far back as the 13th century, they are beautifully restored and converted into amazing hotels with 21st century comforts and exquisite furnishings.
For serious opera goers for whom the Bocelli concert is an aperitif, Tuscany also boasts a magnificent Puccini Festival in the tiny village of Torre del Lago near Viareggio from 14th July to 25th August. It is the only Festival dedicated to the composer and has become a prestigious event attracting spectators from all over the world.
All events are held in an open air theatre - Gran Teatro all’Aperto – which opens onto the picturesque Massaciuccoli Lake and is surrounded by a park of extraordinary charm that houses works of art by great contemporary sculptors such as Pietro Cascella, Jean-Michel Folon and Kan Yasuda and is minutes from the Villa Mausoleum where Giacomo Puccini lived and worked.
In Tuscany there are Renaissance palaces and Romanesque churches to explore and masterpieces by da Vinci and Michelangelo to marvel at. There are also the beautiful mountain paths and hills of Chianti to navigate, and restaurants, cafés and pizzerias to delight the most discerning diners and wine buffs.
The Camposanto, Opera del Duomo Museum and Museum of the Sinopie outside the Square are less famous but just as fascinating.
Cortona is also a must see. This small and charming town in the Chiana Valley in southern Tuscany is enclosed by stone walls dating back to Etruscan and Roman times and sits on the top of a hill about 600 metres above sea level, with spectacular views of the surrounding valley.
Where to stay
With an enviable position for any visitor to Florence, emerge from its doors in to the charming piazza and in just a few footsteps find yourself aside the wonder of the Duomo. In fact it is so close that many of its rooms and suites frame the cathedral through their windows. Looking inward, you find contemporary furnishings sitting elegantly within this historical building. Style and substance are in abundance here with service matching the décor for its high quality.