The Puccini family in Lucca was established as a musical dynasty by Puccini's great-great grandfather - also named Giacomo (1712-1781). This earlier Giacomo Puccini was Chapel Master of the Cathedral of San Martino in Lucca. He was succeeded in this position by his son, Antonio Puccini, and then by Antonio's son Domenico, and Dominic's son Michele. The first four names given to him at birth (Giacomo Antonio Domenico Michele) were the names of his ancestors, in chronological order from the great-great grandfather.
After his father died in 1864 when he was just six years old, Giacomo spent his youth between the family home in Lucca and the summer home of Celle; at the age of nine he entered the seminary and began to play the organ at the Cathedral of Lucca. At fourteen, James was able to start contributing to the household economy by playing the organ in various churches of Lucca. But he preferred the opera. Tradition has it that he decided to devote himself to the musical theater in 1876 after attending a performance of Verdi's Aida in Pisa, where he had gone on foot with two friends.
In the late 1880, after obtaining his diploma at the Istituto Musicale Pacini in Lucca, he continued his studies at the Milan Conservatory. The stay in Milan was an important period for the young Puccini, who came into contact with the world of music of the period and the Scapigliatura movement (a group of intellectuals who wanted to rebel against courtly art forms choosing freedom of inspiration and imagination).