At the beginning of August last month, hundreds of Michelangelo clients converged on the heart of the picturesque region of Tuscany to enjoy the wonderful landscapes, interesting visits, beautiful weather. This is nothing unusual, Tuscany has been a best seller for us for many years, however the centrepiece of this tour was to be a concert given by world-famous tenor Andrea Bocelli, in the village of Lajatico, Bocelli’s home town. Our own staff members Monica and Marco were on hand to oversee our arrangements and were stunned by the beauty of the venue and the success of the event.
No tour to Tuscany is complete without taking in the main cities of art and this was no exception. We organised visits for our guests to the wonderful Renaissance cities of Florence, Pisa and Lucca. We also included a popular cookery lesson, now a staple component of our tours to this region, to give visitors a fun, and hands-on insight into Italian cuisine, before the main event, Bocelli’s summer concert at the amazing outdoor “Theatre of Silence”.
Italian tenor, Andrea Bocelli, became world famous for bringing opera to the masses, using his unique style to merge light music with his incredible voice. His live performances have won over millions of fans, culminating in the addition of his star to the Hollywood Walk of Fame, cementing his worldwide reputation.
The big day of the concert started with breakfast in a range of 4* hotels in and around Montecatini Terme. Trips were then organised to the small town of Volterra, particularly known for its fine alabaster handiworks. Volterra’s beautiful hilltop position offers stunning views across the picturesque Tuscan countryside with its lovely rolling hills and valleys. Continuously inhabited since the 7th century BC, Volterra was one of the twelve cities of the Etruscan League, and many Etruscan artefacts have been found and are on display. Its long and colourful heritage encompassed the Roman Empire and Florentine rule as well. To this day, evidence of both can be seen through the preserved Roman Theatre and Medieval Palaces and quaint Town Squares, which provide clues to the strategic importance of this town over the millennia.
Future generations and civilisations followed the Etruscans in mining Volterra’s alabaster for sculpting. Its delicate, silky texture makes it the perfect material for shaping and creating all manner of sculptures. We have been sending our visiting groups to an alabaster workshop here for many years, where they can enjoy an interesting demonstration, providing an introduction in to the long tradition of working the alabaster stone.
Tuscany is not only known for its stunning landscapes and magnificent cultural cities, but also for its great local food, so we also organised a stop at a Tuscan country estate, giving our guests the chance to sample a rich selection of local delicacies. Cold platters with salami, prosciutto, a selection of cheeses, vegetables and delicious locally produced wine were laid out to be savoured by all. The fantastic food and genuine warmth of the Italian hospitality were enjoyed by all, providing welcome relief from the hot Summer sun.
Our guests then made their way to Lajatico in the late afternoon. This tiny village is Bocelli’s hometown, and is situated in the province of Pisa. In 2006 the tenor himself initiated an innovative project combining art, culture and landscape through the construction of an open-air amphitheatre in the heart of the Tuscan hills around his village. The venue hosts a one-off annual concert by Bocelli in summer and remains silent the rest of the year giving rise to its original name, “The Theatre of Silence”.
A sculpture in the form of a human face adorns the centre of the structure. Designed by the Polish sculptor, Igor Mitoraj, for the performance of the opera Manon Lescaut, it was then left to the theatre foundation as a gift. Both the stage and audience seating areas are erected and then completely dismantled and removed from this natural bowl at the end of the event, with the venue returning to its natural silent state, becoming an artificial lake for the rest of the year. It would be hard to find a more natural and unique venue for such an event anywhere in the world.
In Lajatico, people had the chance to have a nice stroll and cappuccino in the village’s café or simply make their way to the open air theatre. The place was bustling with people coming from all over the world just to be part of this spectacular event. It would be hard to imagine a more picturesque route to a concert as people strolled out of the village along on the gravel road, beautifully lined by cypresses and olive trees until arriving at the venue. Before the curtain went up on the concert, visitors had the opportunity to take in the breathtaking scenery, take photos, grab a bite to eat and take the chance to buy merchandise as a souvenir of the event.
Around sunset, the show began with the surroundings bathed in the gorgeous colours of a balmy summer evening and amidst a chorus of chirping crickets. The performance was a blend of singing and dancing, combining operatic music and dance routines from all round the world. The performers included a children’s choir from Haiti (supported by the Bocelli Foundation), Bocelli’s eldest son, an Armenian singer, and a Russian pianist, all ably supported by the Italian ballet dancer Carla Fracci and many others besides.
Our team members Monica and Marco, and our many guests were enthralled by the event and the incredible setting. The immediate clamour from operators for repeat bookings in 2018 confirmed that this will become a regular feature for us in the years to come and a firm favourite with our trade partners and their clients throughout Europe and beyond.
Dates for 2018 are expected soon, but you can pre-register your interest by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org