Livorno, the most important port of Tuscany
Important province capital and main port of the region, Livorno is famous for many things (the rivalry with Pisa, the humor of its inhabitants, the cacciucco, the ponce, boia de’…) but maybe a little less for what is to be seen in the city. In reality, even in Livorno there is a lot to see, let’s try to make a list of places to visit in the city.
10 things to do in Livorno:
- Quartiere Venezia Nuova
- Fortezza Nuova
- Chiesa di Santa Caterina
- Museo della città
- Fortezza Vecchia
- Monumento dei Quattro Mori
- Museo Civico Giovanni Fattori
- Terrazza Mascagni
- Acquario di Livorno
- Santuario della Madonna di Montenero
Quartiere Venezia Nuova
The quartiere Venezia is the heart of the historic center of Livorno; a picturesque district characterized by the presence of navigable canals that resemble those of the famous Venetian city. These canals, known as Fosso Reale or Fossi Medicei, were built between 1577 and 1609; a colossal work that profoundly changed the appearance of the city. Today you can take a tour through these channels thanks to the association Livorno on Boat that organizes daily tours to discover the canals.
The Fortezza Nuova of Livorno dates back to the end of the 16th century when the Medici commissioned the architect Buontalenti to remodel the city. Initially, Buontalenti’s project foresaw an imposing curtain wall surrounded by ditches and reinforced by a series of bastions but, later, two of these bastions (San Francesco and San Barnaba) were adapted to form the new fortress. A century later, with the construction of the Venezia Nuova, the fortress was largely demolished and reduced to the Bastione San Francesco only. Badly damaged during the Second World War, the fortress was later converted into a public park.
Chiesa di Santa Caterina
Built from 1720, the Church of Santa Caterina stands out in the neighborhood of the Venezia Nuova with its high dome. With no particular ornaments and an unfinished facade, the church does not offer a great impact from outside; inside, however, the impression is very different. Santa Caterina is in fact an octagonal temple in Baroque style, rich in frescoes such as those by Cesare Maffei, decorations, sculptures and paintings such as the Coronation of the Virgin altarpiece by Giorgio Vasari.
Museo della Città
Inaugurated in 2018, the Museo della Città (Museum of teh City) is an important cultural center housed in the former chiesa dell’Assunzione della Vergine e di San Giuseppe and within the so-called Bottini dell’Olio, a structure that originally served as an oil depot. Inside the museum you can admire some collections, made up of works of art, coins and archaeological finds, which allow you to retrace the history of the city. Inside there are also various documents, in-depth information on the most important artists from Livorno, an exhibition of contemporary art, a section of the Biblioteca Labronica (library) and also spaces dedicated to cinema, cooking and satire.
Adress: Piazza del Luogo Pio
Openings: from tuesday to sunday 10.00-19.00
Tickets: regular 10 euro, reduced 6
Move now to the port area to reach the Fortezza Vecchia, an irregularly shaped complex characterized by a series of military structures among which the 3 bastions stand out, called Ampolletta, Canaviglia and Capitana, and the Mastio di Matilde.
The birth of the fortress dates back during the Middle Ages, when the Pisans built a tower at the edge of the port that they had in the area. Subsequently a second tower was erected and, in the second half of the fourteenth century, these two towers were joined by a wall giving life to the so-called “Quadratura dei Pisani“. However, the fortress itself dates back to the 16th century when the Medici family took control of Livorno.
Monumento dei Quattro Mori
The Monumento dei Quattro Mori, one of the symbols of the city of Livorno, is located in Piazza Micheli, not far from the Fortezza Vecchia. Born to celebrate the victory of Ferdinando I de ‘Medici over the Saracen pirates, the monument was created by two different artists: Giovanni Bandini who sculpted the marble statue depicting the Grand Duke between 1595 and 1601, and Pietro Tacca who made the bronzes portraying the four Moors (1621-1626).
According to a popular belief, those who manage to see the noses of all four Moors simultaneously will be blessed with fortune. I give you a tip, in the pavement around the statue there is a tile that stands out from the others … you just have to search!
Museo Civico Giovanni Fattori
Born in Livorno in 1825, Giovanni Fattori was a great painter and engraver, and is considered one of the leading exponents of the Macchiaioli movement. Many of his works are exhibited today at the museum named after him, the Museo Civico Giovanni Fattori, located inside the beautiful Villa Mimbelli in Livorno. In addition to the works of Fattori, here you can admire various works made by other Macchiaioli, such as Silvestro Lega and Telemaco Signorini, by post-Macchiaioli artists and others.
Address: Via San Jacopo in Acquaviva 65
Openings: from tuesday to sunday 10.00 – 13.00; 16.00 – 19.00.
Tickets: regular 6 euro, reduced 4
Let’s go back to the sea to reach what is perhaps the most famous place in the city: the Terrazza Mascagni. The terrace is a very elegant lookout, characterized by a long balustrade with small columns and a beautiful checkered pavement, which winds along the conformation of the coast. Named after the great Livornese composer Pietro Mascagni, the terrace was built starting from 1925 and then expanded after the World War II. If you are looking for the right place for a romantic date or for a great photo, reach the Terrazza Mascagni at sunset, you won’t regret it!
Acquario di Livorno
The Livorno aquarium is located near the Terrazza Mascagni. It is the largest aquarium in all of Tuscany and is also one of the most important in the whole country. Inside you can admire over 300 different species.
Santuario della Madonna di Montenero
The Santuario della Madonna di Montenero stands in the southern area of the city, on the hills of Montenero. Important place of faith, the sanctuary rises where, according to legend, a miraculous event occurred: in 1345 a shepherd would have obtained a cure, after having transported a painting depicting the Madonna on the top of the hill. The history of miraculous healing had a strong echo and since then pilgrimages began to the sanctuary which was enlarged several times over the centuries. One of the special features of this place is the gallery of ex votos donated by the people of Livorno to the Madonna di Montenero.