We love exploring the Serchio Valley and the surrounding mountains. But we also want to see other parts of Tuscany. With a friend, we recently traveled south to the province of Pisa. I was here once before when I was looking at properties. But I was ‘a man on a mission’, so had no time to stop and enjoy the scenery. On this trip, I was seeing familiar intersections and villages, but with fresh eyes.
The ‘colle pisane’ rise quickly from the plain and are dotted with many lovely villages. Pines, grasses, grains, and grapes are everywhere, a sea of gold and green. This is the Tuscany of rolling hills, golden sunshine, and earth tones that you see on all of the posters, book covers, and movies.
The day was quite warm. The summer’s lack of rain (a positive for tourists and beach-goers) leaves the grasses brown and rattling in the wind.
After driving up and down, around and over, we ended up near Lajatico. 15 years ago, no one had heard of this sleepy village. Yes, it’s a beautiful and ‘quaint’ hilltop town. It has an unusual clock tower – from the front, it is 2 stories high; spiral around to the back and you’re only one story below the crinellated roof. The central piazza is quite small and, as with many hilltop towns, the buildings all flow downhill.
Then a local boy named Andrea Bocelli became world-famous. Now the tourists pour in throughout the year. And Bocelli’s wealth is such that Cassa di Risparmio of Lajatico is now ranked richest financial institution per-capita in Toscana.
To his credit, Bocelli has brought positive change to his hometown. He is the reason that the ‘Teatro di Silencio’ (Theater of Silence) exists in the dramatic landscape downhill from the village. It is a wonderful outdoor ampitheater with incredible views in all directions.
Every year since its construction, Bocelli has performed at least one concert in the outdoor theater. (I recall at least one on PBS a few years back.) He later declares it will be his last year at Lajatico. And then the next year, he is back with another fine performance.
Other great singers and musicians also perform at the Teatro del Silencio. If you’re planning a trip to Italy next summer, be sure to check out the website http://www.teatrodelsilenzio.it/