We drive our way to Volterra and San Gimignano, some of the most charming medieval towns in Tuscany, surrounded by rolling hills and luxuriant woods, when we spot a sign for Lajatico. This tiny village reminds me of the famous singer Andrea Bocelli who was born here. My husband recalls his grandmother, living in a nearby village, telling stories about Bocelli in his childhood as he sang in the local clubs and rode his horses around the countryside: after he became so famous this village turned into a most sought after destination for many of his fans and his brother Alberto’s winery the perfect place to contemplate his music while tasting some Tuscan dew.
We decide to make a stop on our way and to have a stroll and light lunch in Lajatico. We find ourselves in a tiny square topped by an old clock tower, where a few shops overlook to the center. One of these has an entrance like a food shop “Alimentari”, displaying fresh organic food, dairy products, cured meat - but we soon find out that it is also a restaurant with fixed menu where most of local workers have lunch every day. As we sit, we cannot if not appreciate the homely vibe and welcoming attitude. The kids are soon fed by our waitress and we appreciate the household cooking selections, such as the wild boar stew or simple “frittata”, omelette, with veggies. “Here”, the waiter says, “anybody can come an sit down as at home and after we have done with our service, we sit down as well and have lunch all together”.
I start looking around, when I hear someone talking about art and exhibitions and I realize he is Architect Alberto Bartalini, citizen of Lajatico and the designer of the Theatre of Silence. The Teatro del Silenzio, as it is called, is an amphitheater created using the natural shape of the hill just at the back of the village of Lajatico. It was inaugurated in July 27, 2006, by will of Andrea Bocelli and meant to host one only show per year, remaining intact in its perfect harmony for the remaining 364 days. Each year the theatre displays different scenographies from very acclaimed contemporary artists such as Igor Mitoraj, Arnaldo Pomodoro, Mario Ceroli, Metzler. For 2013, Lajatico chose the works of the artists of Naturaliter who placed 2 of the 4 gigantic sculptures that are part of the permanent installation “Presences” located on the Triangolo Verde in the town of Legoli (Peccioli, PI).
Going back to our story! We really enjoyed this bucolic lunch and we resolve to go back in summer time, when the annual Bocelli concert will take place. A few months passed and it was not until January came that we started looking for tickets, as suggested by our friend Serena Giovannoni, blogger, concierge, entrepreneur and creator of WishVersilia. As for many pop star’s concerts, the Bocelli one is soon booked out after opening of ticket booths. You need to rush in order to find the best seats and rates, before tickets are sold by private parties who double and often triplicate prices. If you are sitting on first central rows, you might have the chance to chat with Sarah Ferguson or spot Sharon Stone, as it happened to some right this year, well, not to u, as we were too busy at sipping our wine and enjoying our picnic on hillside view.
In fact, there are a few places selling “deluxe” sandwiches and drinks, but you will soon realize that the highlight of the place is made by its surrounding landscape… the yellow hills, where wheat was cropped in early July, the lines of cypress trees bordering the fields and the bell towers and churches of nearby villages topping the green slopes. We had a hard work to drag our picnic baskets while queuing to enter the gates, but we were finally rewarded by such an amazing view. Despite the ticket was stating the start to be at 8.15pm, the concert always opens later in order to allow all the over 8000 guests to find their seats. It was a bit of an adventure for some sleek woman in evening dress and heels to thread up and down the unbeaten paths and reach for their positions. In fact, there is not dress code for the concert if not bringing a scarf or jumper to repair from the night breeze, which can be quite cool and humid in central Tuscany areas.
This year the cast was exceptional, combining classical to pop, Italian artists to foreign ones, music and dancing, art and opera. Hands were aching from heavy clapping. We ended up waiting for the shuttle bus to drive us back to the parking area around 1am and the line behind us was very long, expecting to welcome the sun rising soon. I recommend the Bocelli concert experience, though I’d rather rely on a consultant to take care of reservations, tickets, transfers and a well-deserved Tuscan style picnic! Cheers!