Our tour of Italy stars in Verona, with its reminiscences of Romeo and Juliet. Then to Florence, for some 300 years, from 1434, the seat of the powerful Medici family, whose artistic patronage has left an impressive cultural legacy. The tour ends in the south, with Naples, originally a Greek colony and later a Roman port, and then capital of a kingdom, ruled by Normans and later from Spain. Briefly a Habsburg possession, from 1734 it belonged to the Bourbons, before the unification of Italy in 1860.
Tchaikovsky stayed in Florence on two occasions in 1878, after the disaster of his marriage, hastily contracted, had led him to seek respite abroad. A visit to Rome in 1880 led to the composition of the Italian Capriccio and his opera The Queen of Spades was written in 1890 in Florence, recalled in the same year in his Souvenir de Florence. The other music heard here is the Fantasy Overture, Romeo and Juliet, written in 1869 and based on Shakespeare's play, set in Verona.