Thursday, June 15, 2017

Livorno, Italy - a really old new town

Livorno, traditionally known in English as Leghorn, is a port city on the western coast of Tuscany and is the capital of the Province of Livorno. The city, more a fishing village at the time, was effectively owned by the Republic of Pisa from 1103 until 1284 at which time the Pisan fleet was destroyed in the Battle of Meloria. It was bought and sold a few times over the next 2-1/2 centuries until the Medici dynasty arrived from Florence in the 16th century and encouraged settlement in the area.
However, Livorno remained a somewhat insignificant coastal fortress until its redesign as an "Ideal town" during the Italian Renaissance. The plan was drawn up by architect Bernardo Buontalenti in 1577, and in the late 1580's, Ferdinando I de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany, declared Livorno a free port, along with the introduction of laws ensuring a well-regulated market. Livorno subsequently developed into an enlightened European city and one of the most important ports in the Mediterranean Basin.
With the burgeoning of the cruise industry, Livorno has become a popular port of call, serving as the launch point for excursions to Pisa and Florence as well as numerous small villages and towns throughout Tuscany. We had visited these attraction several times over the years and were happy, on this occasion, to check out Livorno itself.
Incidentally, if you ever pitch up in Livorno and are faced with the choice of going either to Pisa or Florence, choose the latter. Compared to the wealth of sights and experiences available in Florence, Pisa is pretty much a one trick pony unless, of course, the day you are there the leaning tower actually falls over. More snaps of this interesting burg here.

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