Posted by: Debra Kolkka | March 4, 2017

Livorno, port city

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.

Livorno

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.

Livorno

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.

Livorno

Livorno

Livorno

Livorno

Livorno

Livorno

Livorno

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.

Livorno

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.

Livorno

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

Livorno turned on some gorgeous skies for us.

Livorno

Livorno

I have no  idea what this building is, but I liked the fish on the roof.

Livorno

Livorno

We were too late to see the fish market in action.

Livorno

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.

Livorno

Livorno

Livorno

Livorno

Livorno

Livorno

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.

Livorno

Directly behind the statue is the hotel and restaurant Gran Duca. It was time for lunch.

Livorno

Livorno

Livorno

Livorno

As I said at he beginning, Livorno is not a beautiful city, but it has much to offer. I will return to discover more.


Responses

  1. As you mention, Livorno suffered massive destruction during WW2. My great grandfather was the Spanish Consul in Livorno back in the 1880’s and he loved the city, which used to be splendid.
    Livorno is famous for its seafood and they have a traditional soup called cacciucco, which is delicious. It is also the origin of SAN Francisco’s best known seafood soup, cioppino

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    • It is quite clear that the city was once stunning. Unfortunately it seems to have been allowed to develop without much thought. I have tried that delicious seafood dish in Forte dei Marmi. I will try it in Livorno on my next visit.

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    • Cannot wait to visit on our way to Corsica, will look for a place to eat Cacciucco, have had an excellent version at http://www.la-bandita.com/countryhouse a few years back and have tried many times to replicate it, I preferred it over the French boullabaisse.

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      • We saw the big boats waiting to sail off to Sardegna and Corsica.

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  2. It’s so close but I’ve never been. You’ve inspired me to visit Deb.

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    • Livorno is s 45 minute drive from Lucca. We drove through it once. I’m pleased I returned and spent some time there.

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  3. You don’t have to spend long in Europe before you find evidence of WW2. The damage done was simply shocking – this fortress is amazing though – it is ALL about war isn’t it – no matter the period.. and such a collection of different periods. Great tour – thank you! c

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    • It seems incredible that centuries old buildings would be destroyed, but war makes no sense.

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  4. For more on Livorno and its good food see my post at
    ://longoio2.wordpress.com/2016/10/14/of-angel-staircases-and-angelic-seafood

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  5. Ooh when we went on a cruise this is where we docked! I have to admit we didn’t spend a lot of time in Livorno as there was a dinner on the cruise and we did day trips nearby.

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    • Livorno is definitely worth a few visits. There is much to see.

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  6. Livorno the birth place of Pietro Mascagni, opera composer, on the 7th of December,1863. Livorno’s most famous son! Should you return one day, and I hope you will, some photos related to Mascagni would be much appreciated by me.

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    • I will go back. I didn’t do any research before I went and I should have. There is much more to be discovered. I will see what I can find on Mascagni.

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  7. To me, Livorno doesn’t have as much as an Italian feel, but you captured it with the old city part!

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    • As I said, it is a mixture of many different styles. The area by the water is the most attractive.

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