Livorno, on the Tuscan coast, has some stunning buildings. It is not a beautiful city. It is a mish mash of different architectural styles and seriously needs some love and attention, but a walk through the streets, particularly by the water, reveals some wonderful surprises.
We parked near Piazza Garibaldi and walked past some pre WWII stark buildings on our way to the seaside.
A little further on we came to the San Marco gate, part of the customs barrier built on the orders of Leopoldo I in 1835.
The gate features 2 towers decorated with the symbols of trade and war. On top of the arch is a Carrara marble lion sculpted by Nencini. The gate is richly decorated with marble, cast iron, rosettes and Corinthian columns.
Old canals started to appear just past the gate.
After walking through some very ordinary areas we arrived at the Fortezza Nuova. It was part of an intention to develop a new urban plan at the end of the 1500s. It is a pentagonal shape surrounded by canals. Work started in 1590 and was finished in 1604.
The Fortress was badly damaged in WWII. Most of the buildings were destroyed. Its restoration was completed in 1972 and it is now a public park and centre for events and display.
There were some cute boats moored in the water.
Opposite the Fortress is the enormous Piazza della Repubblica. This huge square was built over one of the canals, Fosso Reale, to connect 2 sections of the city. The part of the canal covered by the square continued to be navigable.
Piazza della Repubblica is 240 metres long and 90 metres wide. There are statues at either end.
A little further on a lovely bell tower made me look up.
It led us to the Piazza Communale with some interesting buildings and roof lines.
The nearby canals reminded us why the area is called Quartiere Venezia. Some fishermen were sitting solving the problems of the world.
We wandered past an imposing church.
Livorno turned on some gorgeous skies for us.
I have no idea what this building is, but I liked the fish on the roof.
We were too late to see the fish market in action.
The remarkable Fortezza Vecchio appeared on the other side of an evelated highway which runs through the area.
This massive construction was completed in 1534 under Alessandro de Medici. It was built of red brick with sloping walls. It has a perimeter of 1500 metres and was equipped with 24 cannons to protect each side. The land on the side toward the town was excavated in order to have the Fortress surrounded by water for better defence.
Cosimo de Medici built an imposing palace in 1544 but it was destroyed in WWII.
Soon after we found the Monument of Four Moors, dedicated to Ferdinando I de Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany. The first part of the work was commissioned to Giovanni Bandini in 1595. The marble statue of Medici arrived from Carrara by sea to Livorno in 1601.
Sculptor Pietro Tacca added the first 2 of the Moors. They were made in Florence and came by barge along the Arno in 1622. The other 2 were added in 1626. The statue was moved in the time of the French occupation and again during WWII. It is looking good after 2 recent restorations.
Directly behind the statue is the hotel and restaurant Gran Duca. It was time for lunch.
As I said at he beginning, Livorno is not a beautiful city, but it has much to offer. I will return to discover more.