Although not high on the must-see list of every traveller, Livorno is a pleasant place to spend some time on custom vacations in Italy to sample great seafood, stroll along charming canals and lazy on a beach. Livorno is one of the largest seaports in Italy and the Mediterranean Sea with many cruise ships passing through on their way the islands of Elba, Corsica and Capraia.
Although much of the city was destroyed during the World War II, there are still many sites that tell the glorious story of Livorno built as a port and ideal Renaissance city by the Medici in the 16th century.
Located in the middle of the city a lively 17th century Venice District (Quartiere Venezia) retains its original merchants’ houses, bridges, canals and warehouses. There are a few lovely shops, restaurants and bars in this neighbourhood. You can take a boat trip around Livorno’s canals (fossi) to see the city from a different angle.
Terrazza Mascagni is a grand promenade with checkered tiles and an elegant balustrade flanked by the Livorno Aquarium on one side and the famous old resort Bagni Pancaldi. It is a great place for a leisurely stroll at a sunset from which you can get a glimpse of the Tuscan Archipelago as far as Corsica on a clear day.
Check out the imposing Old Fortress (Fortezza Vecchia) that was built in the 16 th century to replace an older Pisan port as well as the New Fortress constructed by the Medici shortly after that to protect the city from pirate attacks.
Livorno’s numerous restaurants serve delicious traditional dishes such as cacciucco (seafood stew), and triglie or baccalà alla livornese (mullet or cod in a tomato sauce) that you can savour in the port at the Osteria del Mare (Borgo dei Cappuccini, 5) or Cantina Nardi (Via Leonardo Cambini, 6-8). Don’t miss the famous local tipple called “ponce alla livornese” which is a black coffee with lemon zest and a shot of traditional rum-flavoured liqueur “rumme”.
Photos via Flickr by: Jacqueline Poggi, Fabrizio Angius, Daniel Jolivet