Puccini's personal life was an interesting one. He was exceedingly fond of hunting, smoking, attractive woman, mechanical devices of any kind, and acquiring houses. He died in 1924 from a heart attack while undergoing treatment for throat cancer. He was 65 years old. A national state of mourning was declared in Italy. Despite torrential rain, mourners lined the streets of Milan in tribute to the composer of some of the most popular works in the history of opera. Puccini chose to write about the everyday rather than the heroic. He understood the little things of life and portrayed them with sensitivity. Another reason for his popularity was his ability to write glowing melodies --- intimate, tender, passionate melodies. He understood the power of melody to express the deepest emotions, and his orchestral writing was eloquent. He was not only a highly skillful musician, but a poet who understood the significance of the smallest details, and a dramatist who possessed an innate sense of pacing and timing. While he was in the process of composing La Boheme, he wrote that his style was "poetry and again poetry - tenderness mixed with pain; sensuality; a drama surprising and burning; and a rocketing finale."