Choose what to see and to do in Livorno
Livorno, a port open to all cultures
Livorno is located along the Ligurian Sea coast and represents one of the most important Italian ports, both commercial and touristic, but also as an important national industrial center. Among all the Tuscan cities, Livorno is considered the most modern and is also known for the prestigious Naval Academy. The development of the city dates back to the end of the 16th century when Livorno was an important free port frequented by many foreign merchants and headquarter of several shipping companies. This helped create a city with multiethnic and multicultural characteristics, which traces survive in palaces, churches, and cemeteries. Among the 19th century and the early years of 20th century, in addition to the initiation of the process of industrialization, Livorno became a famous tourist destination thanks to the presence of elegant seaside resorts and spas, which gave to the city the nickname of “Montecatini to the sea”. Visible evidence from this period can be found in the beautiful seaside Liberty style villas.
The main feature of the city is the urban geography: the historic center is crossed by picturesque waterways (Medicean Fossi) lapping at the palaces, the two fortresses, squares and bridges; this city will enchant you with its seafaring vocation. Livorno is known for the work of two major painters, Giovanni Fattori, master of the Macchiaioli (a Realism movement) in the 19th century and Amedeo Modigliani who was destined to completely revolutionize the European pictorial art. From the Port of Livorno, large cruise ships and ferries leave to Sardinia, Corsica and all the islands of the Tuscan Archipelago. The Sanctuary of Montenero is located on a panoramic hill, it can be seen throughout the city and the coast towards the north.
|TYPE||seaside city –||the industrial capital of the Province of Livorno|
|ALTITUDE||3 m o.s.l.|
|SPORT||hiking hiking, cycling, water sports, sailing, surfing, sport fishing|
|BORDERS||Collesalvetti (LI), Pisa (PI), Rosignano Marittimo (LI)|
WHAT TO SEE
Fortresses in Livorno
The Fortress is located near the Medici Port. It was built during the medieval period, same time as the tower of Pisa construction, and expanded in the 14th century through the construction of the walls. This Fort was originally intended to monitor the coastline. The current aspect is due to the renovation by the architect Antonio da Sangallo the Elder, who, in the early 16th century, under the government of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany, was commissioned to transform the fortification of Pisan origin in an impressive defensive structure. In 1769, after the passage of the Grand Duchy to the Lorena family, the castle was used as military barracks for the nobility. The plant has an asymmetrical shape consisting of three bastions and remains of other buildings.
The architect Bernardo Buontalenti built it at the end of the 16th century, during the period of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany. The structure has a pentagonal base and a wall studded with five bastions and flanked by ditches, enclosing the original settlement. Subsequently, the perimeter was modified to allow the expansion of the district “New Venice”. The complex of buildings is located in the middle of a large basin of water, connected to the city by a small bridge. The walls have been preserved with the typical elements of the architecture military. Now the fortress is a public garden, where various events take place.
Churches in Livorno
Sanctuary of Montenero
Cathedral of San Francesco (Duomo)
Church of San Ferdinando
The baroque style church, also known as ‘Crocetta’, is located in the district of ‘New Venice’. The building dates back to 1707 to a design by Giovanni Battista Foggini. The façade is devoid of the original marble covering. The interior has a Latin cross with several chapels decorated with works by different artists of that time.
Church of Santa Caterina
The church was founded in 1720. Its high octagonal dome stands out. Inside you can admire a large oil painting ‘The Coronation of the Virgin’ by Vasari, an altar of the Syro-Maronite community and various other significant paintings.
Sanctuary of Montenero
Locality: Livorno (LI) – Montenero
Type: Sanctuary 14th – 18th century
Address: Piazza di Montenero, 9
Phone: +39 0586 579627
The sanctuary is located on a hill behind the town and is accessible by a historic funicular, walking through a long and winding road. The shrine is dedicated to Our Lady of Grace (the Patron Saint of Tuscany), and pilgrims also in the first half of the 14th century visited it. The modern building is the result of the restructuring from the 18th century. Inside, there are large numbers of votive offerings. The image of the Virgin, which is considered miraculous and protector of sailors, is a typical destination of popular devotion. On the square outside, under the porch called ‘Famedio’, there are tombs of famous Livorno personalities, such as Francesco Domenico Guerrazzi and Giovanni Fattori.
The Jewish Synagogue and the Jewish Cemetery
The synagogue was built in the 17th century and has become one of the largest in Europe. During the Second World War, the building was badly damaged. The Jewish community decided to demolish the remains and construct a new building that was inaugurated in 1962. The architectural forms of this modern Synagogue, remind of the Big Tent that shields the Ark of the Covenant.
Chiesa di San Jacopo in Acquaviva
The church, located on the seafront, dates back to the 11th century when a small hermitage was built which grew considerably until the 14th century, when it hosted popes and archbishops. Over the centuries, the proximity to the sea encouraged the pilgrims to stop by while leaving for Santiago de Compostela. In 1587, the church was totally renovated and in 1606, it returned to the Augustinian monks. The current appearance dates back to the 19th century when the building was provided with a new facade in Renaissance style and a new bell tower. The interior is simple, with a Latin cross and a unique nave.
Monuments and places to visit in Livorno
It is a recently restructured wide belvedere facing the sea. A sinusoidal balustrade resting on elegant small columns borders it. The terrace also represents one of the “salons” of the city which hosts events and festivals, especially in summer.
Municipal Aquarium of "Diacinto Cestoni"
Type: Marine Aquarium
Address: Piazzale Razzauti, 1 – Terrace Mascagni
Phone: +39 0586 269111
Opening hours: Depend on season – confirm before
Tickets: € 13.00 full, € 10.00 reduced, € 7.00 for children, free for disabled
The Aquarium is located near the Terrace Mascagni and represents the third largest in Italy. Inside it offers a rich amount of marine life: more than 1500 specimens of 300 different species. There are 13 tanks entirely dedicated to the Mediterranean Sea, two more dedicated to the Etruscan Coast, to the Medici Port of the city, and to a typical Greek-Roman submerged archaeological section. Lastly, you can find representations of the most important marine areas of the world: Indian Ocean, Pacific Ocean, and the Caribbean.
It is a still functioning monumental reservoir. Built in the 19th century with an authentic neoclassical style and designed by Poccianti, the building is in the immediate proximity of the Pertini Park, a pleasant green area.
The villa was built by the Grand Duke Ferdinando Medici as a summer residence. In 1881 it was bought by Bernardo Fabbricotti who transformed this villa into a luxurious residence, conserving some elements of the Renaissance style. The villa is surrounded by a large park, now open to the public, with a great number of pine trees, holm oak, palm, magnolia, cypress, and also sculptures. The villa also has an area for horse riding and a theater.
It is the ancient canal that surrounded the city until 1577. The canals keep their original features, and they are included in the World Heritage list. The canals were part of the urban project designed by the architect Bernardo Buontalenti (16th century). Currently, the Royal Canal and the canals of the ‘New Venice’ district are mainly used as a docking place for more than 2000 private boats. Along the canals important squares and buildings can be found such as the Palazzo Maurogardato, Piazza Cavour, Vettovaglie Market, Piazza della Repubblica, New Fortress, Forte San Pietro, and the New Venice District.
Fanale del Pisani
It’s a lighthouse built in the early 14th century by Pisanei. It was destroyed during the Second World War and faithfully reconstructed (also using a part of the original structure). Originally, the lighthouse was fueled by fire; subsequently by simple lamps with mirrors. Currently, it uses rotating optics powered by electricity.
Attributed to Leon Battista Alberti, this tower with its octagonal shape was built in the first half of the 15th century. It stands 54 meters high and is entirely covered with marble. Its name comes from a bronze banner placed at the top that contained the figure of a lion (unfortunately it was lost during a storm in the 18th century). Some scenes of the movie ‘Ben Hur’ (1925) were filmed in front of the water tower.
Monti Livornesi Park
Municipalities: Livorno, Rosignano Maritime and Colesalvetti
Type: Protected natural area
The park is an example of great historical and natural interest. It is located on the hills behind the city, and also includes the neighboring municipalities of Collesalvetti and Rosignano Maritime. Inside numerous paths wind through heather woods, holm oaks, cork oaks and pine trees. Adjacent to the park, along the coast, there is the Nature Reserve of Calafuria. The park incorporates a beautiful cape where remains of some fortifications are visible: the Castello del Boccale, Torre di Calafuria, and the Castello Sidney Sonnino. Last but not least, in the park the beautiful seaside resort of Castiglioncello and the Montener Sanctuary are located.
It’s also important to mention the area named Sassoscritto, on the lower slopes of the Monte Telegrafo, which has particularly interesting cliffs such as Punta Pacchiano, Punta Combara and Punta del Miglio. This area also has an enchanting little beach: Cala del Leone with a mix of sand and large pebbles. The coastline has many small rocky coves, among which the Scogli Neri, Buca dei Corvi and the Baia della Crepatura. The area is completely covered by a thick Mediterranean scrub and deep forest. The fauna consists mainly of wild boars, weasels, porcupines, foxes, and many bird species. In the park there are various numbered paths managed by C.A.I. (Italian Alpine Club).
Localities near Livorno
It was the site of an ancient Medici Fort in the southernmost district of the city, linked to the urbanization that began between the late 19th and the early 20th century. In the last decades, Antignano has become a seaside resort and has received the Blue Flag certification for the eco-environmental quality. Among all the beaches, Maroccone is probably the most appreciated for its beautiful naturalistic panorama.
It’s a town only a few kilometers south of Livorno formed by a rocky and pebble coast, enriched by the presence of some old watchtowers. This seaside resort has been marked with the Blue Flag for the quality of the tourism services and the sea. The Port of Quercianella is a tourist mooring and, near the mouth of the River Chioma, the marina called Porto Chioma is located. Among the places to visit, don’t miss the Castle Sonnino, with its neo-Renaissance style. Baron Sidney Sonnino built it in the 19th century on a cape overlooking the sea.
It is a small island located 37 kilometers from the coast and is part of the National Park of the Tuscany Archipelago. After 1860 the place was designed to accommodate a still functioning penal colony. The island has beautiful bays and coves like Cala Scirocco, where you can also admire the Grotta del Bove Marino, Cala Maestra, and Cala Marcona. On the island you can also find two forts: Torre Vecchia , which has ‘Pisane’ origin, and the Torre Nuova, built by the Medici. Noteworthy is the church of San Gorgonio with a fortified architecture.
Secche della Meloria island
In 1284, on this rock, located off the coast, a bloody battle between the Genoese and Pisan fleets took place that ended with the defeat of the latter. In the middle of the islet stands the tower that dates back to early 18th century. It consists of four pillars linked by pointed arches. In 1722, on the seabed, four bronze heads were found of the Renaissance period depicting Homer, Sophocles, Aeschylus and an unknown figure.
ARTS AND MUSEUMS
Museums in Livorno
Amedeo Modigliani's house
Natural History Museum
Located in Villa Henderson, this is considered an avant-garde museum for both the contents exposed and for the structures. It illustrates the physical and cultural evolution of mankind, with particular reference to the Mediterranean area. Guided tours are available by reservation only.
Jewish Museum "Yeshiva Marini"
Besides a collection of furnishings and vestments of the Jewish religion, the museum houses a book collection dated between the 17th and 20th century and a Hekhàl from the 16th century that contains the Torah scrolls. The museum also exhibits documents on the Nazi persecution.
The museum is located inside the Carlo Goldoni Theater, an imposing neo-classical building from the 19th century that is still the hub of the city’s theatrical activity. The museum collects memorabilia that belonged to the composer Pietro Mascagni, who was a native of Livorno.
Giovanni Fattori Museum
Type: Art museum
Address: via San Jacopo Acquaviva, 63 – Villa Mimbelli
Phone: +39 0585 808 001
Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday 10:00 am to 1:00 pm and 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm
Tickets: € 4.00 full, € 2.50 reduced
The museum is located inside the luxurious Villa Mimbelli, built by Vincenzo Micheli between 1865 and 1875 and surrounded by a large romantic park. It contains an important collection of works by the Macchiaioli and post-Macchiaioli, an artistic movement born in Livorno in the 19th century. Noteworthy is the collection of paintings by Giovanni Fattori.
WHAT TO DO
Type: art, entertainment, fair-market
When: from July to August
During the summer months July and August, the event ‘Effetto Venezia’ take place in the New Venice District, that is one of the oldest and most characteristic district of the city. The event is characterized by shows, cultural events and craft markets along the canals, with about 60 craft stalls and antiques.
Trophy "Naval Academy"
When: April to May
This represents a meeting point for sailing enthusiasts that takes place every year, parallel to the races, with the participation of international teams. The event is linked to a series of events taking place in the Porto Mediceo.
Risiatori Cup, Ilio Barontini Cup, Palio Marinaro
When: June to July
Traditional rowing races. Three major competitions involving the districts of the city: The Risiatori Cup (second Sunday of June, from the Torre della Meloria to Porto Mediceo); The Ilio Barontini Cup (time race, at night, along the canals of the city, the last Saturday of June); the Palio Marinaro (stretch of beachfront to the Terrazza Mascagni, the second Sunday of July).
Itineraries around Livorno
Sea of Livorno – Boat ride
Fishing tourism is a recreational activity that takes place on board of artisanal fishing boats. With prior authorization, fishermen can embark a number of people besides the crew. Short trips at sea or longer fishing trips can be undertaken in any period of the year, considering the favorable weather conditions. Some excursions are also organized during the night. In some cases, there is onboard catering.
Information and booking: Coop. Santa Maria Assunta
Address: Via Padre Nicola Magri
Phone: +39 0586 426751
Livorno City sightseeing
Ride through the town with an open bus that offers the possibility of getting on and off the bus at the main tourist attractions. On the bus information about all the visited places is available in English, Italian, and Spanish.
Given the many canals in the city historic center, the tour of the Medicean Fossi offers the possibility to see the city from a different perspective. The tour along the waterways crosses the fortresses, bridges and buildings. During the tour you can also see the statue of the Four Mori, the Old Fortress, the Venice District, the Dominican Monastery, the New Fortress, Piazza della Repubblica, the Central Market, the Dutch-German Church and Maurogordato Palace.
Information and booking: Coop. Itinera
Phone: +39 348 7382094 +39 333 1573372
History of Livorno
A free port
The Livorno origins are mentioned in different legends and myths. The name of Labrone was already mentioned by Cicero in the 1st century BC. In 1017 the name “Livorna” was attested for the first time. Between the 13th and 14th centuries many fortifications and a majestic lighthouse were built, currently known as Fanale del Pisani.
After the fall of the Republic of Pisa, Livorno was first sold to the Visconti of Milan, then in 1407 to Genoa and in 1421 to Florence. In the 16th century, the Medici, Grand Dukes of Tuscany, contributed decisively to the development of the area and its port system. The architect Bernardo Buontalenti designed the project of a new fortified city: following the criteria of an “ideal city”, building a pentagonal structure within a broad system of moats and defensive bastions around the original nucleus.
The enactment, between 1590 and 1603, of the so-called “Laws Livornine” by the Grand Dukes, contributed to the growth of the city by establishing the free port and ensuring to the inhabitants of the city, both political and religious freedom. Immediately in the following years, Livorno was the destination of a flow of Jewish immigration: mainly traders, from Spain and Portugal, establishing a thriving and active community. Also, many other foreign communities moved to Livorno, thanks to the benefits derived by the institution of the free port. After the Napoleonic period, the power returned to Lorraine that started the construction of large public works, such as the completion of the aqueduct of Colognole, while the fortifications of the Medici period were largely dismantled to be replaced by elegant palaces of the new middle class. After the unification, customs duty was abolished (1868) and this led to a drastic drop in commercial and maritime traffic activities.
The subsequent installation of the Orlando Shipyard will rapidly change the aspect of the city, transforming it into a major industrial center. Starting from the first half of the 19th century, on the seafront several seaside resorts were built. This was also the period in which many works were realized by the Macchiaioli and Post- Macchiaioli artists that can be seen at the Civic Museum Giovanni Fattori. The beginning of the 20th century has seen a growth of numerous architectural and urban projects. The Second World War bombardments caused the destruction of a large part of the city center. Post-conflict reconstruction lasted many years and gave the city the appearance of a modern and heavily industrialized city.
Livorno is also linked with the cinema industry. The city was chosen by the Lumière brothers during their first tour Alps. In 1926 Fred Niblo shot some scenes of Ben-Hur in Livorno (more precisely in the little island of Meloria Shoals). In the 60’s some major movies were filmed in the city and in the neighboring area, such as: White Nights (1957) by Luchino Visconti, Everybody Go Home (1960), The Easy Life (1962), Mare Matto (1962) and many others. The most recent are A Journey with Anita (1978) by Mario Monicelli, Ovosodo (1997) by Paolo Virzi, Love discovered (1997), Good Morning, Babylon, The High Life, The Talented Mr. Ripley, The First Beautiful Thing (2009).
Cacciuco alla livornese
The main dishes are, of course, with fish, with abundant use of tomatoes, introduced in Livorno by Sephardic Jews.
Baccalà alla livornese
Triglie alla livornese
Pollo in galantina
Triglie alla mosaica
Impannata di pesce
Even more characteristic is the “poor cuisine”, which form a kind of sub-genre of Livorno cuisine.
Inno di Garibaldi
Picchiante con le patate
Fagioli con le cotenne
Boghe al pomodoro
Zerri sotto il pesto
Ministra sulla palla
Acciughe alla povera
Ministra sui discorsi
Brodo di sassi
5×5 (panino con torta di ceci)
At the other extreme are the dishes of the “rich” aristocracy.
Ragno alla Lardere
Ostriche alla livornese
Timballo di murena alla Pancaldi
Orate fredde all’Ardenza
Agnello in fricassea
Minestrone alla livornese
Roschette (brought by the Jews fled from Spain)
Stiacciata alla livornese
Fritelle di farina dolce
Chicchi di menta
Persiana (based on aniseed and mint extract)
Where to eat in Livorno
Restaurants and Taverns
Ristorante Ca’ Moro
The restaurant is housed in an old fishing boat anchored in the Old Dock.
Piazza del Pamiglione – Darsena Vecchia – 57100 Livorno (LI)
Phone: +39 391 4333025
Service: specialty traditional Livorno food, cultural events – closed Monday and Tuesday
Ristorante Cantina Senese
Borgo dei Capuccini, 95 – 57126 Livorno (LI)
Phone: +39 0586 890239
Service: Livorno specialty traditional food, cultural events – closed Monday and Tuesday
Trattoria Il Deserto
Via Provinciale Pisana, 527 – 57100 Livorno (LI)
Phone: +39 0586 444652 / +39 338 9671004
Service: pan-fried fish and seafood – closed Sunday
Ristorante Il Sottomarino
Via Terrazzini, 48 – 57122 Livorno (LI)
Phone: +39 0586 887025
Service: specialties traditional cuisine of Livorno
Trattoria Osteria Melafumo
Via Mentana, 78/80 – 57125 Livorno (LI)
Phone: +39 0586 894702
Service: Livorno cuisine, seafood specialties
Trattoria L’Angelo d’Oro
Pian G. Mazzini, 15 – 57126 Livorno (LI)
Phone: +39 0586 881295 / +39 339 4957263
Service: Tuscan cuisine specialties from Livorno – closed Wednesday
Quality Fast food
Torteria al Mercato “da Gagarin”
Via del Cardinale, 24 – 57123 Livorno (LI)
Tel: +39 0586 884086
Services: savory and traditional sweet cakes
Viale Caprera, 13 – 57123 Livorno (LI)
Tel: +39 338 4490189
Services: sandwiches, pasta dishes, wine tasting – closed Monday – closed for lunch except Tuesday and Thursday
Address: Scali Aurelio Saffi – Fosso Reale
It’s a 19th century building, designed by the architect Angiolo Badaloni, who was influenced by the architecture of iron and glass. At that time, it was one of the largest covered markets in Europe and for that reason, it was called “the Louvre.” The interior has a large hall covered by a skylight offering space to 200 stalls selling fish, vegetables, poultry and also 92 wineries and craft shops.
It was built after the war as a selling point of goods, mostly of US origin. A few years ago this market was moved from the historical site of Piazza Mazzini to the commercial port.
Special tourist services
With this tourist card, you have free access to urban public transport, free entrance to the Civic Museum Giovanni Fattori and the Museum of Natural History of the Mediterranean. The card also offers reduced price for a Batello tour in the Medicean Fossi and for the Livorno Aquarium, as well as discounts in affiliated shops.
The card is available in two forms:
– Valid for 1 day: € 3.00
– Valitdità 3 days: € 5.00