Livorno is unlike any other place you’ll visit in Tuscany.
Authentic and true to its ancient seafaring ways, it’s a diamond in the rough that begs to be discovered.
It welcomed me and now I look forward to welcoming you to its shores.
Join our crew and embark on a journey to discover this one-of-a-kind port town.
Imagine walking down a canal like those you know from Venice, but hearing people talk in Flemish. Or walking by churches and synagogues and climbing a tall tower to spot pirate ships on the horizon. This is what it must have been like living in Livorno in the 1500s, when the town welcomed people from all over Europe (and even beyond). Where you come from, your past debts or murders you’ve committed don’t matter. Sephardi Jews fleeing the Spanish Inquisition, Dutch merchants, along with a colorful array of shady characters of questionable origins… they all convene here at the call of the Medici family, who wanted to build a true Reinassance town on this coast.
Livorno had a crucial role in spreading Enlightenment ideas across Europe and beyond: important texts like the Encyclopédie of Diderot and d’Alembert were printed here.
At the turn of the century, the houses that were built here followed a new style, the local artists discovered new ways to paint. And Livorno changes drastically. There were thermal baths, cinemas and beaches to swim and sunbathe.
The World Wars away most of it, but not the spirit of the town. It still lives on still in the smile of the people and in the many monuments, proud witnesses of an extraordinary history.
Let me show you around
Discover buildings that have seen the passage of time, foods that come from afar and unusual stories.
Oh, italian food
And if you get peckish after all the walking, no place is better than the bustling Central Market (better known in Livorno as the ‘Mercato Centrale’). Home to all things food, you can buy groceries here but also stop for breakfast, lunch and (occasionally) dinner.
With its history at the crossroads of Mediterranean trade, the local culinary tradition has been influenced by different cultures. The result is simple, genuine dishes that make the most of simple ingredients like chickpeas, small fish and flour.
You cannot leave Livorno without trying ‘cacciucco’, a tasty fish soup you easily find inside the Mercato Centrale. Or step outside to go to Gagarin’s shop for some cinque e cinque, a sandwich with a chickpea flatbread. For a sweet note to end your meal, try the fried doughnuts called ‘frati’ (in Piazza Cavalotti).
Did you know?
There is so much more I could tell you, but you’ll have to come here to discover it for yourself!
In the meantime, here are some other tips and interesting facts about Livorno.
A town that has taken art to its heart
Maybe it’s the breathtaking, beachside sunsets that make the people of Livorno prone to flights of fancy. Or perhaps it’s the salty sea air that awakens the mind. The fact remains that this town was the birthplace of famous artists and continues to have a strong creative spirit today, with several dance, music and theater schools located here.
The famous painter Modigliani was born here, in Via Roma, where his house is now open to the public. Even the Macchiaioli art movement originated along this stretch of the Tuscan coast, which is why Villa Mimbelli, in Livorno, was chosen to house a museum dedicated to it.
Mascagni, the composer of the opera ‘Cavalleria Rusticana’ was also born here. The prestigious music conservatory in Livorno bears his name and so does a park.
In recent times, the director Paolo Virzì has risen to fame. The New York’s MoMa dedicated an entire exhibition to his work, which includes the movies ‘Ovosodo’ and ‘La prima cosa bella’, both set in Livorno.