In 1880 Puccini left Lucca to study at Milan's music conservatory, returning after his studies to Tuscany to rent a lakeside house in Torre del Lago, 15km west of Lucca on the shore of Lago Massaciuccoli. Nine years later he had a villa built on the same lakeshore, undertaking the Liberty-style interior decoration himself. The villa has been preserved almost exactly as it was during Puccini's residence and is hence fascinating to visit (by guided tour every 40 minutes).

It was here that Puccini with his wife, Elvira, spent his time working, hunting on the lake and carousing with a diverse group of hunters, fishermen and bohemian artists. Madame Butterfly, La fanciulla del West (1910), La Rondine (1917) and Il Trittico (1918) were composed on the Forster piano in his front study, and he wrote his scores on the specially made walnut table in the same room.