Visiting Livorno, a surprisingly un-Tuscan city.

Fortezza Vecchia, one of two Medici fortresses in LivornoFortezza Vecchia, one of two Medici fortresses in Livorno

 

Visitors to Tuscany are spoilt for choice. So much to see, so little time! Renaissance Florence, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, Lucca with its splendid walls and medieval churches, Siena’s Gothic Cathedral  and the Palio...the list is all too familiar, and it goes on and on. It can be hard to decide where to start and faced with all that choice, not many visitors think of spending some time in Livorno or the Province of Livorno .

Scali delle Cantine Overlooking the Canals in LivornoScali delle Cantine Overlooking the Canals in LivornoLivorno offers a different face of Tuscany

Compared to its Tuscan neighbours, Livorno is of 'recent' origins and cannot boast the same history, all those famous names and coffee-table images connected with Florence and the likes.

The city of Livorno was founded just over 400 years ago, and in many ways is so totally different to the rest of this famous region. It hardly seems to be a Tuscan town at all.

Yet Livorno's history is a unique and fascinating one, and there are still many good solid reasons for spending some time in the port of Livorno on the coast of Tuscany. With a bit of advanced planning, it can be a rewarding and enjoyable experience.

Queue outside the Uffizi Gallery, FlorenceQueue outside the Uffizi Gallery, FlorenceOk, so Florence has its Duomo, its Renaissance architecture and paintings, Michelangelo’s sculptures, the Ponte Vecchio, and the Uffizi gallery. It is a must-see on anyone's list of priorities. Beware though, because for much of the year Florence also has long, long museum queues, hoards of visitors, and unbearably humid summer heat.

Livorno has canals, the sea, unbeatable sunsets and many hidden treasures

winter sunset over the island of Gorgona, opposite Livornowinter sunset over the island of Gorgona, opposite LivornoLivorno has its canals (the fossi), the sea, its old and surprisingly tranquil Medici port, cooling breezes, wonderful fish dishes, affordable shopping, relaxing seafront strolls, its potent ponce, an amazing food market and unbeatable sunsets!

What's more, the city has some unexpected treasures: two Medici fortresses, for example, and, hidden away in unlikely locations, a remarkable number of old cemeteries that date back to times when the city was a cosmopolitan melting pot of races and nationalities -the Livorno delle Nazioni as it is often named. The 17th-century Old English Cemetery - the oldest Protestant cemetery in Italy - is just one example. Add to these a host of historic churches, many once belonging to the foreign nations of Livorno (Dutch, Greek, Armenian, English, Scottish...), and you immediately have a unique and fascinating starting point from which to explore Livorno.

Summer Apricots on a Piazza Cavallotti market stallSummer Apricots on a Piazza Cavallotti market stallExperience real day-to-day Italian life in modern Tuscany

Often in central Florence and Pisa the only other people you see are tourists.
In Livorno, on the other hand, you rub shoulders with the locals all year round.  While Florentines regard you with indifference, the Livornese will stare in curiosity
Livorno is a lively, unpretentious city, offering an experience of  day-to-day life in modern Italy, but not without surprises. There are many aspects of Livorno that can satisfy both those in search of history and art and those looking for more hedonistic pleasures. Explore the Livorno Now site and discover the possibilities!

Related article:
Third summer holiday in Livorno for Anders and family 

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