Livorno Tourist Attractions
SituationLivorno (traditionally known in English as Leghorn), chief town of its province and Tuscany's principal port, lies 20km/12.5mi south of Pisa on the edge of the alluvial cone deposited by the Arno.
HistoryFaced with the present-day city of Livorno, with its industrial installations and modern buildings, it is easy to forget that this is a town with a long history. First mentioned in the records in 904, it was for long the port for Pisa, but after the Pisans' defeat in 1405 it passed into the hands of the Genoese, who sold it to Florence in 1421 for 100,000 gold florins. The Médici then fortified the town and in 1571 constructed a new harbor and at the same time laid out a new town. Livorno thereafter enjoyed a rapid upsurge of prosperity, and by the end of the 18th century had become the largest town in Tuscany after Florence. During the Second World War the town suffered heavy damage, particularly to its historic buildings, and now preserves only a few buildings of any age. Livorno was the birthplace of the painter Amedeo Modigliani (1844-1920) and the composer Pietro Mascagni (1863-1945).
In the center of the old town of Leghorn is the cathedral (San Francesco d'Assisi), built between 1594 and 1606 to the design of Bernardo Buontalenti and Alessandro Pieroni. After its destruction during the Second World War (1943) it was rebuilt in its original form. The interior (aisleless) contains a number of tombs and ceiling-frescoes by Iácopo Ligozzi, Passignano and Iácopo da Émpoli (all 16th-17th century). Via Cairoli leads southeast from the cathedral in a straight line and passes the Fosso Reale.Gilded sculpture reliquary by M. Soldani (1692).
The port, at the west end of the old town, is one of the largest in the Mediterranean. There are boat services from here (some carrying cars) to Elba and other islands in the Arcipélago Toscano (, Tuscan Archipelago), as well as to Sardinia and the French island of Corsica. The old part of the port is known, after its founders, as the Porto Mediceo.
Statue of Grand Duke Ferdinand I
In Piazza Micheli, which opens on to the harbor, can be seen a monument to Grand Duke Ferdinand I (1587-1609), popularly known as the Monumento dei Quattro Mori (Monument of the Four Moors) after the bronze figures on the base. The monument, with its marble statue of the Grand Duke, was originally erected in 1599; the vigorously depicted figures of slaves were added, after long-drawn-out preliminary trials in 1623.
The central feature of the old town of Leghorn is the long Piazza Grande, now surrounded by modern buildings. At its southern end stands the cathedral, rebuilt in accordance with the original plan; in the center of the square is the Palazzo Grande (1951) and at the northeast corner the Town Hall. From here Via Cairoli runs south to the Piazza Cavour, the new center of the city's traffic, which is partly laid out over a canal, the Fosso Reale.
Leghorn's main street, the Via Grande, cuts across the Piazza Grande; at its east end is the Piazza della Repubblica, with statues of Ferdinand III (d. 1824) and Leopold II (d. 1870), the last Grand Dukes of Tuscany. Immediately north of the square is the Fortezza Nuova (bastion; 1590), surrounded by canals.
At the north end of the old port area of Livorno is the Fortezza Vecchia (Old Fortress), built by Antonio da Sangallo for Cardinal Giulio de' Médici between 1521 and 1534. It is dominated by a squat tower known as the Mástio di Matilde, part of an earlier 11th century castle.
The little Church of San Ferdinando, also known as the Chiesa della Crocetta, stands outside the old town to the northwest. A Baroque structure (1707-14) by Giovanni Battista Foggini, it was largely rebuilt after the Second World War, like many other churches in Livorno. It contains sculpture by Giovanni Baratta (1670-1747), including figures of St Louis of France and St Henry the Pious of Germany and allegorical representations of the Christian virtues.
To the east of the Piazza della Repúbblica, reached by way of Via de Larderel, is the Cisternone (1829-32), a Neo-Classical building fronted by a Doric portico and a large vaulted niche. It is a water-tower, supplied by an aqueduct. Beyond it lies the Giardino Púbblico (Public Garden).
The southern boundary of the docks is the starting point of the beautiful Viale Italia which runs south, along the coast, past parks and beaches.
On the Terrazza Mascagni is the Acquario Comunale (Municipal Aquarium) to which is attached an institute of marine biology.Beyond this the seafront promenade passes the Accadémia Navale (Naval Academy).
Museum of Contemporary Art
In a park to the southeast of the old town is the Museo d'Arte Contemporanea (Museum of Contemporary Art), mainly devoted to work by Italian artists. Special exhibitions on particular themes are put on from time to time.
Museo Civico Giovanni Fattori
The Museo Civico in Livorno, in the park of the Villa Fabbricotti to the south of the new town, contains works by the Macchiaioli, a group of painters formed in the mid-19th century, whose principal aim was to overcome academic restrictions.This movement was led by Giovanni Fattori.
Map of Livorno Attractions