Going on from my other post about Leghorn
6) The Central Market: Mercato delle Vettovaglie
In Italy any market is the best place to find fresh vegetables, fish (especially on the coast!) and meat, if you are an expert. If you are not, mind your bag and avoid trusting all the sellers, who will always swear that they have the best goods and deals. A good technique is visiting the market in the early morning to get the best products, instead of getting at midday what was left by other buyers.
A bit of history: after Italy was officially proclaimed a united country (1861) all the main cities started to renew their structures in order to compete with the surrounding European nations.
Architect Angiolo Badaloni was in charge of restructuring Livorno, the mayor assigned him the Market project in 1890.
4 years and 1 million of lire later, the new Liberty market opened its gates, and it was the result of accurate research, according to official documents.
After accessing the building you will find a wide main room (95 mt x 26 mt, 35 mt high) with 4 entrances plus two side rooms. Here are situated 36 shops and 230 selling desks, plus 92 cellars to stock perishable goods and park carriages. The underground area is also connected to the river, for boat access.
You should also watch this video to get the atmosphere
7) Historic churches of every possible religion
Livorno is traditionally the city of freedom, another reason why I love it.
Its port became very important for commerce during the 13th and 14th centuries. The Medicis had every interest in granting its people, the “Livornesi”, great freedom through special laws. This encouraged merchants from all over the world to move here and that is how Livorno started to be crowded with churches of communities from every possible religion. If you didn’t grow up in Roman Catholic Italy, especially my area you cannot imagine how unusual this is for an Italian city.
Here you’ll find what legend says was one of the most beautiful Sinagogues of Europe (1606, rebuilt after WW2, see photos of the inside and the outside), the Chiesa dei Greci (Greek church), the Chiesa degli Armeni (Armenian church), the Chiesa degli Olandesi (Dutch Church). The last is unfortunately and nearly in ruin see picture one and see picture two. Thank God in December 2013 a FAI Campaign granted 25,000 euro to restructure the building and petitions have been signed.
8) The Scali
A walk through the city should include the numerous ‘scali’: Scali Manzoni, Scali D’Azeglio, Scali degli Olandesi, Scali dei Saffi, Scali del Pontino, Scali del Pesce and Scali Rosciano. You will find so many streets named ‘Scali’ while walking along the river, why? In Italian Scali are areas reserved to a certain group of sailors for loading and unloading goods. They’re little ports, each destined to one of the local communities (Dutches, Jews, Armenians or fish sellers, etc).
9) The Dome, Cathedral of S. Francesco
In the times when in Livorno Bernardo Buontalenti was performing one of the city’s mentioned architectural revolutions (see this post, point 3), including military buildings and the enhancement of the port, the city also got its Dome: the Church of Saints Maria, Francesco and Giulia. Buontalenti himself designed it, but works where later carried out by architects Pieroni and Cantagallina in the early 17th century.
The Cathedral was completely rebuilt after WW2, following the original design – the belfry was ultimated in 1950s.
10) To tell the truth… there’s so much more:
Like the English cemetery, the stunning seaside – just out of town – the Castle of Sonnino, the ancient baths (again, in ruins) local specialties such as “5 e 5” and “Ponch alla Livornese”, or the more famous Cacciucco… Livorno is a city really worth to discover…
And if you want to have some Livornese nice mornings you should follow this very nice blog/website about the city:
Livorno, 1 picture per day:
And I here promise a recipe of the tasty 5 e 5…