Livorno is situated along the Ligurian Sea, on the western coast of Tuscany and is one of Italy's most important ports, both as a commercial and touristic port of call, as an industrial centre of national importance.
Livorno is a major spot for tourists and locals who wish to spend their vacations near the seaside. With plenty of seafood, historic sites and easy accessibility from other cities like Florence or Pisa; a day-trip or even a stay at this busy port city becomes quite worthwhile.
The origin of Livorno is dubious, although the place was inhabited since the Neolithic Age as shown by worked bones, pieces of copper and ceramic found on the Livorno Hills in a cave between Ardenza and Montenero. The construction of the Via Aurelia coincided with the occupation of the region by the Romans. The natural cove called Liburna, later transformed in Livorna then in Livorno, is a reference to the type of ship, the liburna, used by Roman navy.
In order to protect Pisa, Livorno was founded in 1017 to act as a fortress against invaders. For years, the original structures remained, but the arrival of the Medici family brought construction changes in the city. Many additional structures from the 16th and 17th century were actually designed by the architect Bernardo Buontalenti, who had been commissioned by the Grand Duke of the Medici family.
The beginning of the 18th century brought further changes as old structures were discarded in favor of newer ones and after the devastation of the Second World War, many parts of this town were rebuilt and restored.
The city, developed from the end of the XVI century upon request of the Medici family, is famous for being the birthplace of prestigious personalities such as Amedeo Modigliani, Pietro Mascagni and Carlo Azeglio Ciampi.
The only remaining structure of Medieval Livorno is the Fortezza Vecchia (Old Fortress) that was built by Antonio da Sangallo for protection of the Medici port. The pentagonal structure with its red bricked walls and towers is truly a sight to behold and must have been a place of grandeur in its days. The Fortezza Nuova (New Fort) was built with a similar design, farther away from the port, in the 17th century.
Piazza Grande, full of buildings and porticoes, is the centre of the city. The Duomo is a remake of the late Gothic building destroyed during the war.
Piazza della Repubblica covers part of the Royal Fossato, an ancient moat constructed in defence of the city. This piazza is the second biggest in Europe and is actually a bridge because of the canal that passes underneath. Beyond the moat rises the Fortezza Nuova (new fortress) designed by Bernardo Buontalenti in the 17th century. Behind stretches the working-class neighbourhood called Venezia Nuova.
Built by Ferdinando II de' Medici in 1629 close to Porto Mediceo, in order to give an adequate space to the maritime and commercial activities, this new rione (district), was built in an area gained to the sea, intersected by canals and linked to the town with bridges, for this reason Venetians skilled workers were recruited. The Venezia Nuova district still preserves features of the original plan, with a dense network of canals, bridges, narrow roads, houses of the nobilty and warehouses. The Church of Santa Caterina rises here, on a hexagonal plan. Not far off you come across the baroque church of San Ferdinando.
The Fortezza Vecchia, a towering fortified construction built by Antonio da Sangallo the Elder, incorporates the Keep of Countess Matilde, a massive donjon surrounded by a stronghold.
In front lies Piazza Micheli with the famous monuments with four moors.
Monuments with Four Moors
This Monument is dedicated to Ferdinando I de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany, and is one of the most popular monuments of Livorno. Ferdinando I commissioned it to Giovanni Bandini in 1595 to carry out a monument in white Carrara marble to represent him in the uniform of the Grand master of the Order of Saint Stephen which in that period prevailed in several naval battles against the Barbary pirates. It owes its name to the bronze figures created by Pietro Tacca in 1626.
The square overlooks the old Dockyard beyond which stretches the Medicean seaport. From Via Grande, the main city street, you can reach Piazza Grande and beyond, next to one other, you find the Church of Santissima Annunziata (dei Greci Uniti), the Church of the Madonna and the facade of the Church of San Giorgio degli Armeni. At the end of the street is the Neoclassical Cisternino built in 1837-42 for water distribution. From here you come to Piazza del Cisternone, whose name derives from the great reservoir constructed in the first half of the 19C.
The beautiful promenade by the sea winds along Viale Italia, which leads to the:
Terrazza Mascagni, reaching into the sea, is a wide sinuous, suggestive belvedere toward the sea from which it is possible to admire the Livorno hills, the Tuscan Archipelago until the Corsica and the Port of Livorno. The Terrazza has a paving surface of 8,700 square meters formed by 34,800 black and white tiles placed as a checkerboard and 4,100 balusters. It leads to the D. Cestoni Municipal Aquarium of Livorno.
Main points of interest:
Accademia Navale Italiana
Cattedrale di San Francesco di Assisi
Chiesa della Madonna
Chiesa di Santa Caterina
Vecchio Cimitero inglese
Sanctuary of Montenero
Acquario comunale Diacinto Cestoni
Museo di storia naturale del Mediterraneo
Museo Civico Giovanni Fattori
Orto Botanico del Mediterraneo
Many important events attract tourists from all over the world especially in summer:
one major event taking place each year in Livorno every august is the annual Effetto Venezia (Venice Effect), a summer festival that takes places in the New Venice district.
The Livorno Music Festival takes place in september.
The most important date on Livorno's calendar is however the Palio Marinaro, a rowing event taking place in july.
In july there is also the "Serate Illuminate + PAC180 2017 - contemporary art and live music", three nights dedicated to live music and contemporary art.
Livorno is also home to two spas, San Giovanni's Spa and Venturina's Spa, where you can relax and ease away your stress and worries, to truly enjoy your vacation.
Providing many beaches and a seafront boulevard, where shops, cafes, and buildings are an attraction to hundreds of tourists, Livorno is the perfect location for a peaceful and fun-filled coastal holiday.
Not to forget the strong culinary tradition, with the several sagres and food festivals held in summer (especially for fish), with the main protagonists, the famous "cacciucco", the "red mullets" and the "cuttlefish" alla livornese (livornese style).