Let me write about this lovely city: Livorno, or Leghorn. I find passing-by spots really attractive and this city has been a passing-by spot for centuries, since its birth! Not one of those destinations under the Tuscan sun and plenty of rooms with view. I must admit that my favourite cities are always dirty old towns lying on the coast, maybe because I come from one of them or just because anything connected to water strongly fascinates me.
Complaining – I’m a complainer, if you are not in the mood just skip this part.
I am astonished that post-card Tuscany has not enhanced this great heritage, yet. I am confident that they will, of course, one day.
Please, surf the Tourist Office’s website and then join me in my complaining activity. Here is what a website like that says to me: “We don’t give a fuck of our roots and beauties. Wait, you do? Wait wait, this is what you can buy from us: stupid sightseeing tours or stupid boat tours.”
Where are history and art? Where are the pictures? For sure they’re better merchants and sailors than they are as culture promoters.
Until their wakeup day, it seems Livorno and its awesome port, docks, harbour and surroundings remain of one only use: shipping, selling, producing. No matter what they ship, people or goods, the purpose for walking Livorno’s streets is just passing-by reasons.
As always, at least in Italy, people precede their governments in awareness… If you can read Italian and you like Livorno you must surf this organization: http://livornodellenazioni.wordpress.com/
Enough complaining: here are Leghorn’s MUST GOES, in random order:
1) Terrazza Mascagni
It is a fantastic location to take photos, even if you are a crap photographer (like me!). Apart from that, it is ideal for an elegant and relaxing walk with view over the sea. I don’t like aquariums so I won’t write about it, even if it’s one of the city attractions overlooking the terrace. Instead, let me give you some Wikipedia information about the terrace: 8700 square meters, it was designed by Enrico Salvais and Luigi Pastore (1925), while the kiosk is of later construction, by Ghino Venturi (1930s). It was expanded after WW2 and entitled after the local musician Pietro Mascagni, and later restored (1990s). Nearby you will find the historical sea-baths Pancaldi (1946), the Naval Academy and a stunning view of the superfantastic lighthouse!
2) The lighthouse
It is called ‘fanale’ by locals and it could be the oldest in Italy, since it was built in 1300s. Unfortunately, what we see today is just a reconstruction 😦 After the war it was re-built by volunteers following the original and by using many original stones.
Plus, we are not allowed to see it much closer, because it is situated inside a private harbor.
3) The Port
Livorno was founded by the Romans, but its port was commissioned by Cosimo I (Medici family) that is why Livorno is strongly connected to Florence. The port of Pisa was about to be swallowed by sand and Florence needed it for its commerce. Famous military architect Bernardo Buontalenti built a new sport, a new fortified city near the old one (see point 5), the fortresses).
4) The area called “little Venice”
This should be visited during the summer event “Effetto Venezia,” nice event attended by both locals and tourists. During the 1700s this area hosted a number residences owned by very rich merchants. Today it is the elegant district and boasts what remains of the Church of Santa Caterina (1720), another neglected building.
5) The Fortezza Vecchia and Nuova
Forget to visit these fortresses. And it’s a scandal: they are both crumbling, like many neglected historic buildings in town.
The tower of the old fortress dates back to 10-11th century, while the walls were erected in the 16th century. The whole military complex was commissioned by the Medici family to Antonio da Sangallo, in the same year when Grand-duke Francesco 1st’s got his residence here, the building overlooking the port.