Livorno

For many, Livorno is only the port from which ferries leave for the islands. Wrong. It is an exciting seaside city full of attractions not to be missed.
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Livorno is Tuscany’s seaside city par excellence: a fishing village transformed into a strategic city by the Medici in the 16th century. An economic life linked to the sea has made Livorno a historic crossroads of cultures and trade that today translates into a multi-ethnic, dynamic city rich in cultural ferment: an unusual destination worth discovering.

Its bustling port is one of the most important in Italy and the Mediterranean, much to the chagrin of Pisa, which had been a powerful Maritime Republic and which saw Livorno take the primacy of the seas in the region.

The beaches around the centre are very beautiful and varied, able to satisfy lovers of sandy shores and rocky coves, and it was precisely in Livorno that some of Europe’s first bathing establishments were built.

Without moving from the centre, one can admire a magnificent view of the sea from a splendid panoramic terrace and try tasty seafood dishes such as salumi di mare and carbonara di mare.

True, Livorno was heavily damaged during the Second World War and has a much more modern appearance than the more famous Tuscan art cities, but it does not present itself as an industrial city devoid of charm. There are villas, fortresses, historic markets, museums and even a district of bridges and canals reminiscent of Venice.

Don’t relegate Livorno to your port of departure for Sardinia or Corsica: stay a while and you will discover an exciting city.

Things to do in Livorno

Livorno’s top attractions are sea-related: scenic spots, beaches, the Aquarium… Livorno, however, also has an interesting cultural heritage and a dynamic city life.

Between history, art and urban atmosphere, here are the things to see in Livorno.

Mascagni Terrace

Mascagni Terrace is Livorno’s symbolic place: beloved by the Livornians, it makes anyone who comes to the city, even if only for a few hours, fall in love with it and is certainly a must-see attraction for photographers on the hunt for interesting glimpses, couples eager for a romantic stroll and lovers of sunsets over the sea.

Part piazza, part belvedere, it is a huge panoramic terrace that follows the coastline, featuring a chequered paving and an elegant balustrade. From here, it is possible to enjoy a splendid view of the nearby islands of the Tuscan Archipelago.

Its dimensions are remarkable, so much so that more than 30,000 black and white tiles and MORE THAN 4000 columns were required to realise it. Forte dei Cavalleggeri once stood on this site, which was demolished in the 19th century; the chequered belvedere was built in 1925.

The terrace is named after Pietro Mascagni, a famous composer originally from Livorno.

Monument to the Four Moors

Livorno’s most famous monument is the sculptural group of the Four Moors placed in the centre of Piazza Micheli and overlooking the Old Dock. Made at the turn of the 16th and 17th centuries, the Four Moors Monument is linked to historical events and popular beliefs.

The man enthroned at the top of the statue is Ferdinando I de’ Medici while the Moors chained at his feet are four pirates he had taken prisoner.

Originally there was only the statue of the Grand Duke, but from 1621 onwards the four Moors were gradually added. The monument is still incomplete today: the plan was to add two fountains, which were then placed in a square in Florence.

Look for the precise point from which the noses of all four Moors can be seen at a glance: according to the people of Livorno, finding this spot is a good omen.

Old Fortress

Livorno’s Fortezza Vecchia (Old Fortress) is a defensive complex with an irregular plan located in the port area and to which the city owes much of its fortune.

The first defensive constructions that make up the nucleus of the fortress date back to the early Middle Ages, later two towers were added and joined into a wall. Its current appearance dates back to the alterations ordered by the Medici in the 16th century. The design is by Antonio da Sangallo il Vecchio, one of the greatest experts in military architecture of the time.

Originally, the fortress was completely surrounded by the sea and could only be reached by a system of floating barges; today it is connected to the mainland and is used as a venue for cultural events.

Mastio di Matilde

There are three bastions within the Fortezza Vecchia: Ampolletta, Canaviglia and Capitana. The most imposing and best known construction, however, is the Mastio di Matilde, a mighty cylindrical tower attributed to Countess Matilda of Canossa.

The attribution of the commission is almost certainly incorrect, but the name has become customary.

New Fortress

Fortezza Nuova (New Fortress) is another defensive complex in Livorno that completed the city’s fortifications; its construction dates back to the 16th century. It is a sort of connecting element between the historical core of the city and the newer part.

It is currently a public park and is often used for events.

Little Venice

Livorno’s most evocative district is called Piccola Venezia, or Little Venice: a corner in the heart of the historic centre where you can stroll along canals, bridges and small squares reminiscent of the famous lagoon city of Veneto.

It is a beautiful district to explore on foot, perhaps in search of the most beautiful views to photograph, but it is also worth admiring it from a different point of view: treat yourself to a boat trip on the ‘fossi‘. These are the names of the navigable canals that cross the district, giving it such a characteristic atmosphere; they are artificial canals, built from the 17th and 18th centuries to facilitate the transport of goods to and from the port. Of them all, the most famous is Canale dei Navicelli.

The fossi (ditches) district extends close to the Fortezza Vecchia, in an area between Ponte San Giovanni Nepomuceno and the Church of Santa Caterina.

Some of Livorno’s most beautiful buildings stand in its area: Palazzo Huigens, Palazzo Scali Rosciano, the Church of San Ferdinando and the Palazzo del Monte di Pietà. One of the city’s most elegant streets, Via Borra, is also located in this district.

Livorno Aquarium

The Livorno Aquarium is one of the most important in Italy and boasts a spectacular location: it is situated directly on the seafront, next to the Terrazza Mascagni, and has a panoramic terrace.

There are more than 300 animal and plant species from the underwater world that you can admire inside: these include clown fish, rays, jellyfish, alien fish, squirrel fish, sea eagles and even a forest of kelp macro-algae.

Cathedral

The Duomo di Livorno, or Cathedral of San Francesco, looks very different externally from the typical cathedrals of Tuscan cities.

Unfortunately, the church façade was completely destroyed during the Second World War and was rebuilt with round arches reminiscent of English Renaissance architecture. Inside, however, it does not lack the wealth of works of art that one always expects to find in Tuscany.

Vettovaglie Market

Nestled between Fortezza Nuova and Fortezza Vecchia is Livorno’s most beautiful market: the Vettovaglie Market, a historic covered market inaugurated in the late 19th century.

The magnificent building that still houses it today was one of the public works carried out to revive the city’s economy, penalised by the Unification of Italy.

Frequented daily by numerous Livornese for their daily shopping, the market was also a source of inspiration for the artist Amedeo Modigliani, who had his atelier on the upper floor, and for comedians Gino Bramieri and Walter Chiari.

Inside you can buy fruit, vegetables, fish, meat and delicacies of all kinds; there are also shops, bars and cafés. For those who love street food and the lively atmosphere of covered markets, it is a must-see attraction.

Republic Square

A good reference point for exploring the centre of Livorno is Republic Square, the point on which three fundamental roads converge (Via Grande, Via Garibaldi, and Via de Larderel).

Called ‘Il Voltone‘, it is one of the city’s largest squares and a popular meeting place. It was built in the 19th century; the Cisternino, a building that served as the city’s water supply, dates back to the same period.

The two statues facing each other on opposite sides of the square represent Grand Dukes Ferdinand III and Leopold II.

Mediterranean Museum of Natural History

Housed in Villa Henderson, an elegant historical building, the Mediterranean Museum of Natural History is an active centre of research and scientific dissemination on environmental and conservation issues.

One section is entirely dedicated to human evolution, one to the sea, one to invertebrates, plus there is a botanical garden.

You can see skeletons of cetaceans, reproductions of the seabed, specimens of terrestrial and marine invertebrates and a reproduction of the Neanderthal Man that will allow you to look into the face of a prehistoric man!

Giovanni Fattori Civic Museum

Another splendid historical building, Villa Mimbelli, is home to the Museo Civico Giovanni Fattori, an interesting attraction for all lovers of art and period furnishings.

The museum collection includes paintings from the mid-19th century to the 1940s, mostly by Leghorn and Tuscan artists. The villa housing the museum has an elegant garden, perfect for a relaxing stroll.

Sanctuary of the Madonna di Montenero

An exceptional vantage point from which to admire the centre and port of Livorno from above is the Sanctuary of the Madonna delle Grazie. It is often referred to as the Sanctuary of Montenero after the name of the hill on which it stands.

It is a very important place of worship, around which numerous legends are told; it is located about ten kilometres from the centre and can be reached by car or public transport.

Livorno Mountains Park

Fancy stretching your legs or taking a cool dip in nature? Head for the Livornesi Mountains Park, a green oasis of about 1300 hectares between the municipalities of Livorno, Collesalvetti and Rosignano Marittimo.

Splendid forests crossed by numerous streams await you, which you can explore on foot, by mountain bike or on horseback.

Beaches in and around Livorno

To find the most beautiful beaches in and around Livorno, head south from the centre. Within a radius of less than 10 km, you will find three beautiful beaches in succession, all easily reached by car or public transport and all awarded the Blue Flag for the quality of their services.

Starting from the centre and moving southwards, you will find the districts of Ardenza, Antignano, Calafuria and Quercianella, and it is here that the people of Livorno love to spend their days by the sea. The offer of beaches is ample, there is something for everyone. Among the best are the Spiaggia di Tre Ponti (Three Bridges Beach), the Spiaggia del Sale (Salt Beach), a sandy beach bordered by protruding rocks, and the Miramare beach.

Continuing along this stretch of coastline you can find magnificent rocky coves, some well-known, others quieter: the most beautiful are in the Calafuria Nature Reserve. Do not miss Cala Leone and Cala Quercianella.

If you have time, embark for the island of Capraia, a natural paradise just a few hours by ferry from Livorno.

Antignano

In the Antignano district, located south of Livorno just past Ardenza, you will find suggestive pebble-bottomed beaches, not always easily accessible, in a stretch of coast characterised by dark rocks. The first is the Tamerice beach, named for the presence of a ‘historic’ tamarisk, portrayed by important painters such as Fattori, Natali and Lomi. The Cabianca beach (an abbreviation of white house), on the other hand, is located opposite Via Cabianca.

Immediately to the south is the Longa beach, which as its name suggests is one of the longest in Antignano, also facing the street of the same name, Via Longa. Impossible, however, to confuse them. Just below is one of the most striking beaches in this area: the Ballerina beach, accessed from the park of the same name, through a carpet of daisies blooming under the tamarisk trees. Descending the steps leads to a pebble beach surrounded by rocky stacks. One of these, before excessive erosion, was said to vaguely resemble a ballerina, hence the name.

Calafuria

The small beach of Castello del Boccale in Calafuria

The Calafuria cliffs, a few kilometres of rugged coastline beaten, as the name suggests, by the wind and the fury of the sea, is one of the most geologically interesting stretches of Livorno’s coastline. It is an extremely ephemeral scenario, because the wind is always at work and the cliffs are constantly being worn down under its pressure. There are few beaches, but the cliffs are often practicable and there are even some natural pools of brackish water, the result of past excavations that fill with seawater with the waves. Adjacent to the Calafuria tower is the bridge of the same name.

Just below the bridge is Calafuria beach, one of the very few gravelly shores in this area. The stretch of coast closes with Calignaia beach, of coarse gravel, also under a bridge. It is accessed from the car park of the Romito restaurant, a challenging descent, especially the last stretch, which is not suitable for children. The view, however, is very special. It appears as if framed by the Aurelia bridge, behind which you can see the old railway bridge. The choreography is pleasantly affected by this play of arches.

Quercianella

The last stretch of coastline in the municipality of Livorno is the town of Quercianella. Here there are some interesting beaches including the Cala del Leone (Lion Cove), which is difficult to reach because you have to cross the Sonnino Park, which is private. On the south side of the promontory is instead the Moletto del Sonnino, with a pebble beach, well inserted in the environment.

Past a few rocks, there is the Rogiolo beach, named after the stream that flows here, well equipped with every service, including access for the handicapped. Access is by a convenient concrete walk along the rocks (downhill from the La Baracchina restaurant) that connects Rogiolo to Quercianella.

There is also a road, which is owned by the Ferrovie dello Stato (State Railways), not accessible to cars; however, 200 metres remain to be done on foot. This beach, of medium gravel mixed with fine gravel, is well sheltered from wave motion because the Sonnino promontory protects it from the mistral. Following the concrete promenade in a southerly direction, after a few hundred metres, you come to the small port of Quercianella, which on its northern side has a small beach with a salt-water pool obtained by artificially placing a barrier of large stones, very suitable for allowing children to play without risk.

To the south of the port is the actual beach of Quercianella, with a free stretch and an equipped one, with all amenities at hand. The stretch south of the town, beyond the promontory, has a gravel bottom alternating with rocky veins forming characteristic oblique stratifications. A well-marked stairway allows one to reach the beach from that side as well. The mouth of the Chioma marks the border between the municipal territory of Livorno and that of Rosignano Marittimo. To the north of the mouth itself is a last beach, good-looking but a little difficult to trace.

Ardenza

A residential area built around a nucleus of neoclassical palazzine dating back to 1840, Ardenza is now completely incorporated within the city of Livorno. In this rocky but flat stretch are some interesting pebbly beaches, recently developed, capable of changing their appearance even after a single sea storm.

The first, opposite the Hippodrome, is the Accademia beach. Just below the Naval Academy, on either side of the Italian Naval League pier, there are two others, although they are often occupied by boats pulled ashore. These are the Fiume beaches: this is not a grammatical error, because they refer to the ‘Bagni Fiume’. The one to the south is also called Selciaio beach.

The small but well-equipped Rotonda beach, on the other hand, overlooks the park of the same name, south of Bagni Lido. The Tre Ponti beach is a fairly wide and pleasant-looking tongue of sand at the mouth of the Rio Ardenza. Here the seabed has a structure that facilitates wave formation, so this beach, when the mistral or libeccio winds blow, is one of the few places where it is possible to surf.

Where to stay in Livorno

As happens a little in all passing towns, hotels and B&Bs in Livorno are concentrated near the port and are designed for those staying just one night.

It is therefore easy to find both cheap, very basic hotels and modern hotels that cater to business travellers and offer considerable comfort.

There is no lack of more charming accommodation, such as tastefully furnished flats in the historic centre and villas a few kilometres from the centre; for those seeking luxury, there are a couple of 5-star hotels with swimming pools.

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How to get to Livorno

The two easiest ways to get to Livorno are to reach the city by ferry or take a low-cost flight to Pisa and from there travel by car or public transport.

The port of Livorno is located in the city centre and is directly connected to Sardinia, Corsica, Sicily and the island of Capraia; with a change in Sardinia it is possible to go as far as Spain (Barcelona). Arriving in Livorno by ferry is a very convenient solution because the ships are quite frequent and allow you to bring your own vehicle on board.

Pisa airport is about 25 km away and although there are no direct connections, it is rather easy to reach: just get to the centre of Pisa, which is only 3 km from the passenger terminal, and from there take a bus or train. The taxi does not cost too much if you travel in a group and share the expense.

If you are already in Tuscany, you can easily reach Livorno from several directions and by different means. For those who want to arrive by car, the reference is the Florence-Pisa-Livorno state road, connected to the A1 motorway and other important national roads; the recommended exit is Livorno centro.

Livorno’s train station is convenient to the historic centre and the port. It is located along the Rome-Genoa line, one of the most important railway lines in the country, served by frequent regional and intercity trains. Trains on this line also stop in Florence, Pisa and the main coastal resorts of the Maremma.

The bus is a valid alternative: local and suburban buses stop at the train station, while long-distance buses for national destinations arrive at a bus station located about 5 km away.

Livorno Weather

What's the weather at Livorno? Below are the temperatures and the weather forecast at Livorno for the next few days.

Friday 31
17°
21°
Saturday 1
15°
24°
Sunday 2
16°
21°
Monday 3
16°
21°
Tuesday 4
15°
24°
Wednesday 5
17°
22°

Where is located Livorno

Livorno is a municipality in north-central Tuscany located along the coast; it is the capital of the province of the same name. It is only 25 km from Pisa, about 90 km from Florence and 130 km from Siena.

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