L ooking at Livorno from Montenero is as if you knew the whole city. First the green hills full of vineyards, then gradually the houses, palaces, churches, boats and the sea, calm and intense, the Tyrrhenian Sea ... and then again the mountains, the Apuan Alps, which look at them from afar seem blue and blend with the sea and the sky, if not for their summit that always seems snowy.

Livorno ModiglianiThe gaze wanders for miles and miles, goes up to Versilia, or down to Piombino and Maremma. In the middle are the smells of the sea, the colours of the boats and the thoughts that would like to go far, towards the more open Mediterranean. Livorno is a bit like those heads sculpted and drawn by the famous artist Modigliani (Leghornese doc), elegant and simple as the earth, linear like the model who lent herself to his art (the French Jeanne Hébuterne) and free to let imagine what they think and want. A bit like the people of Livorno, who have been open to the rest of the world since ancient history, offering themselves to trade, culture and commercial development.

Mappa antica Livorno Between canals, squares and lively spirit Livorno is also known as a 'little Venice', or better since it was never so small, a New Venice. From the bridges of the canals and from the terraces on the sea you can see one of the major events of the city, called 'Effetto Venezia', a summer festival that every year floods the oldest districts, those around the 'Fossi Medicei', namely the royal ditch that once marked the perimeter of Renaissance Livorno, fortified by walls and ramparts. Knowing the history of Livorno is in fact like taking a trip into the history of the de' Medici family, who wanted to create a sort of 'ideal city' here, strongly desired by Francesco I de' Medici and later also realized by his successor, Ferdinando I de' Medici, behind the project of Bernardo Buontalenti, one of the most influential architects and artists of the Italian Renaissance.

Porto Mediceo di LivornoAfter the nearby Republic of Pisa and after the city passed from the Milanese and Genoese to the lords of Florence, Livorno began to move towards a surprising development, first with its port and then through the establishment of a civil society at the forefront. On the basis of all this there were the so-called Livornine Laws, issued by Ferdinand I, in order to establish a free port for Livorno, increase the number of inhabitants for the cities of Livorno and Pisa, ensure freedom of worship, religious practice, political and civil:

Mappa antica Livorno "the Serene Grand Duke ... to all of you merchants of any nation, Levantines, Polnentini, Spagnuoli, Portughesi, Greeks, Germans, Italians, Jews, Turks, Moors, Armenians, Persians, telling each of them health ... for his desire to increase the spirit of strangers to come and attend their traffic, merchantie in his beloved city of Pisa and Porto and Livorno port of call with habitués, hoping habbia to be useful to the whole of Italy, our subjects and maxims to the poor ... ". June 10, 1593 Constitution Livornina.

Terrazza MascagniAnd it is perhaps in these lines that you can read the whole character of Livorno. We are even more convinced to look at the sea from the Terrazza Mascagni, from where we seem to see boats full of laborious traders, such as those who came from Spain and Portugal, driven away as Jews. The numerous Jewish Community of Livorno was never locked up in a ghetto, but free to build a new future for itself and for the city.

Giovanni Fattori - LivornoThe promenade of Livorno winds along a picturesque route of several kilometers and as its most beautiful and elegant terrace, the Terrace Mascagni is precisely the meeting place of Leghorn, tourists and cadets of the historic Naval Academy of Livorno. It starts from the coastal stretch of Romito and arrives up to Antignano and then down to the port area.

LivornoThe walk takes you back to some of the most interesting places in the city, as well as the historic bathing establishments of Livorno: from the Castle of Sonnino, along the coast overlooking the sea (so called because it was once inhabited by Baron Sidney Sonnino, Italian Prime Minister since 1909 for a year) and the beautiful Church of San Jacopo di Acquaviva, which overlooks the water and seems to have its origin in the fourth century AD, we reach the walk between the Rotonda d'Ardenza and the nineteenth-century Hotel Palazzo (1884), which already in 1904 was defined by some travel guides (Album Livorno and Surroundings) as "one of the most beautiful in the world. The building is located behind the characteristic gazebo of the terrace, in front of the bathing establishments of the Bagni Palmieri (today Acquaviva), so delicately immortalized by Giovanni Fattori in his 'La rotonda dei bagni Palmieri' (Oil on board, 1866, Galleria d'Arte Moderna, Florence).

Livorno PinetaThe promenade of the seafront is also enriched by the historic Aquarium of Livorno Diacinto Cestoni, located on the square Razzauti, on the edge of the terrace, and dedicated to the famous Italian naturalist who lived between the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The structure, originally founded in 1937, has been extensively renovated over time since the war, and reopened in July 2010. Together with the Acquario di Genova and the Acquario di Cattolica, it is the largest aquarium in Italy in terms of size.

From the seafront to the centre of the Medicean city, the step is short. The canal is filled to the east by a large area called Voltone and better known today as Piazza della Repubblica, which covers well over 19,000 square meters. We recognize it for the beautiful neoclassical monument dedicated to Ferdinand III, Grand Duke of Hapsburg-Lorraine and elector of the Holy Roman Empire, who ruled the city as Grand Duke of Tuscany during the Restoration. To the north we arrive at the so-called New Fortress, which today is home to a beautiful public park and was born in the Renaissance period designed by Buontalenti (it was in fact the ancient bulwark of St. Francis and is so named to distinguish it from the Old Fortress of Livorno (Fortezza Vecchia), now known as Old Dockyard and located on the edge of the Medici Port).

Livorno ModiglianiAt its side there is one of the most beautiful districts of the city, what we initially called New Venice: we like it for its ancient character, the waters of the moat, the small boats on the piers, the old buildings and churches. Among these you can visit the ancient warehouses of oil, called Bottini, now part of the exhibition circuit of the Labronica Library (the latter is housed in a beautiful nineteenth-century building, Villa Fabbricotti, in Viale della Libertà). The most important element of the entire district is also the Church of Santa Caterina (1720-1753), characterized by a unique dome and frescoes by Cesare Maffei, Giuseppe Maria Terreni and several others. Inside there are also the relics of Santa Vigilia (Chapel of the Madonna di Montenero) brought here from Cagliari in the seventeenth century.

LivornoTo the west of Piazza Repubblica, Via Grande leads to Via Madonna, which in turn is characterized by the three Baroque facades of the buildings. We are on Piazza Grande, in our opinion one of the most beautiful squares in Italy (if it had remained completely pedestrian as in the early twentieth century) and taken as an example by the English urbanist Inigo Jones in the construction of one of the most famous squares in London, Covent Garden. Since 1587, the central side of the square has been home to the Cathedral of Livorno, which was almost entirely rebuilt after the bombing of the Second World War. You can also visit the Palazzo del Municipio (Town Hall, 1720), recognizable by the beautiful double staircase outside, and the Grand Duke's Palace of the seventeenth century.

Livorno visitareThe monuments and tourist attractions in Livorno are numerous and all very interesting. Livorno is in fact a city not only to visit but also to live. Among the museums of Livorno, libraries, ancient historical sites, cinemas and theaters, the many films shot in the city, you will have the opportunity to enjoy the city. Once upon a time there were also the Baths of Livorno, let them decay for a long time and hopefully in the process of reconstruction. Finally, experience the traditional cuisine of Livorno ... based mainly on fresh fish. Read also where to eat in Livorno. We like to conclude with the moving colors of another painting by Giovanni Fattori 'La Libecciata', which 'speaks' of the wind that from the sea seems to bring to the city the sounds of a distant world.

Getting to Livorno is easy, the nearest airport is Pisa, the city is located on the Rome-Genoa line and is served by many trains. Both the motorway and the freeway arrive there.

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