It is not uncommon for a modest reality from Italy’s most timid and secret regions to emerge almost suddenly, for reasons mostly tied to the birth of a well-known persona.
This prelude is tailor-made for the tiny town of Lajatico, a city nest of just over 1,300 residents in the province of Pisa, in lovely Tuscany: here, one of the finest tenors in the world, if not the greatest now in circulation, Andrea Bocelli, took his first steps and grew up.
The Theater of Silence
The well-known opera singer has never completely severed the umbilical cord that binds him to his homeland; indeed, his perseverance in enhancing the value has resulted in a sensational creation he himself desired and promoted, namely the Theatre of Silence, which is in fact an impressive amphitheater built on a hill ideal for the subsistence of this structure mounted once a year to host on the circular stage shows of rare beauty cloaked in culture in a setting of rare beauty cloaked in.
A monument, which is changed every year and adds fresh magic to the site’s distinctive beauty, stands in the heart of the picturesque area (which has a total size of 5,000 square meters).
What to see in Lajatico and its surroundings
Lajanico is only 45 kilometers from the City of the Leaning Tower, and its origins may be traced back to the Etruscan-Roman period as a primitive settlement known as Larius, which gradually declined into a medieval village established around the Castle of Pannocchieschi d’Elci in the twelfth century. The construction of the municipality’s most prominent place of worship, the Church of San Leonardo, dates from the next century. It was renovated in the 19th century by Livorno architect Angiolo della Valle, who was in charge of the enormous restoration works aiming at giving the church a distinctly neoclassical appearance in both its forms and founding structure. The construction lasted from 1853 to 1856, although the façade was not defined until 1925, after the bell tower was built towards the end of the nineteenth century. There was a valuable high altar within the church, which has three naves (the central one has a barrel-vaulted roof), which was replaced in 1957 because it was completely destroyed after the building was severely damaged during WWII.
Other houses of worship may be found in the nearby hinterland, which is occupied by numerous hamlets: in Orciatico, the Church of San Michele Arcangelo stands alongside the Church of the Company, while the Church of San Giovanni Bosco stands in the Village of San Giovanni in Val d’Era. The Oratory of San Sebastiano in Lajatico and the Oratory of the Santissima Annunziata in Il Poggio are both worth visiting.
Not only churches, but also examples of civic realization carried out with undoubted elegance, such as Palazzo Gotti Lega, Palazzo Pretorio, and Villa di Spedaletto, the latter among the noble residences once inhabited by Lorenzo il Magnifico and counted among the most beautiful Medici villas in the region.
The military remnants are cohesively synthesized in the Rocca di Pietracassia, a castle construction entrenched in the forests at 530 meters above sea level, possibly dating back to the Longobard era, but this is more of a guess than a guarantee. The fortress and the castle are clearly distinguished by their construction: the fortress surrounds the castle with its walls, a crown that encompasses a square-plan keep, and two towers joined by a long fortification, which is all that is left of the ancient unicum.
Events, festivals, and manifestations
Tradition, on the other hand, does not wish to be uprooted in order to make a place for modernity; rather, it knows how to entertain like no other. The Sagra della Castagna (Chestnut Festival) has been celebrated for more than four decades. It takes place in Orciatico in the third week of October and has artisan fairs, various types of events, music, and gourmet stands where visitors may sample Tuscan cuisine specialties, as well as chestnuts, pancakes, and great sweet wine.