By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises
Livorno is Italy’s second-largest port, after Genoa. It’s a city of some interest itself, although most visitors hardly notice as they pass through to the inland.
From Livorno you can easily reach the great city of Florence (Firenze). Or join the throngs on a pilgrimage to one of the world’s iconic sites, a certain tower in the town of Pisa. And there’s always beautiful Tuscany, Siena, and Lucca.
All such choices should be so rich.
Livorno was considered an ideal, or model town during the Italian Renaissance; it is among a small number of Italian towns that was actually planned.
In the late 1580s, Livorno was declared a porto Franco, a duty-free port. The Leggi_Livornine laws governed commerce and also granted freedom of religion; all were welcome if they contributed to the community.
Trade and freedom brought many immigrants: Armenians, Jews, Dutch, English, Greeks, Moriscos (Spanish Muslims forcibly converted to Catholicism).
At the end of the 17th century it was within fortified town walls—a few still stand—and crossed by navigable canals. Some canals remain in Livorno’s Venice district.
On this visit, we choose to go local. We took a city bus about 15 miles south of Livorno and then rode a creaky funicular (one of the oldest still in use, dating from 1908) to the Santuario di Montenero.
It offers a great view of Livorno, and a glitzy 18th century Church with roots going back hundreds of years earlier. The side chambers include some very unusual art: drawings and paintings depicting the deaths–mostly in accidents of various sorts–of some of the parishioners.
SANTUARIO DI MONTENERO
A LIVORNO ALBUM
Less than an hour north of Livorno is the city of Pisa, which at its peak was one of the maritime republics of this part of the world. How can an inland city be a maritime power? Well, the Arno River used to be navigable from Pisa all the way to the sea; it silted up and was one of the reasons Pisa went into relative decline.
Oh, and their celebratory campanile became dangerously defective. That sort of thing can happen when you build on wet and unstable soil.
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