I can hardly believe a year has passed since I wrote up my first recommendation to visit the little hillside village of Corsanico above Viareggio and attend some of the lovely concerts in the Church of Saint Michele you see pictured below lit up for the May celebration of the Dolorosa.
Why am I so captivated by this place? Well for all the reasons I elucidate above, but combine this with a church with one of the finest historic organs in Italy and a Summer Music Festival that is centred (but far from exclusively) on this instrument and you have my ideal little world. The concerts start at 9.15pm, any earlier and the heat would be just too intense. But this does perfectly allow for an early supper (with change from 20 Euros – including wine) in a restaurant just 100 meters away and a gentle stroll up the ancient street to the Piazza St Michele and into the church.
The energy this small community puts into making this concert series happen is down largely to the efforts of local resident Graziano Barsotti who probably will not mind if I say that his love for the Vincent Collona (1605) organ is as great as the love for his family.
How does such a fabulously expensive and ancient instrument come to be in a small hillside village? Well it started life in a church in the nearby wealthy city of Lucca and the story goes that Napoleon forced the closure of many of the cities churches. Eventually after protracted negotiations and the consent of the Pope, the redundant organ was gifted to Corsanico by a generous resident and it was moved some 20 miles over the hills by donkey cart to the village. No doubt as today, a second hand organ is worth a fraction of the original cost and so I expect a good bargain was had and a great musical work of art saved for posterity.
So there we have it, a great village, church and instrument, now the centre of a charming relaxed musical festival with some very great name performers. Last year Jean Guilou from Paris came to play. I thoroughly recommend attending. I would be surprised if you did not also feel the magic of the music in the warm Italian night air while looking down on the twinkling lights of Pisa in the distance below, may also feel motivated to investigate what little nearby hideaway is on the market to allow you more regular visits to this very special part of Italy. For a more detailed account of the instrument visit this link