Sarah Thompson. Originally from England, I've lived in Livorno since 1991. Apart from running the Livorno Now website, I work as a translator, teacher, blogger and local travel consultant. If you can't find what you're looking for on the Livorno Now website or if you need any help or advice, please contact me.
In order to populate his new city, in 1591-2 Grand Duke of Tuscany Ferdinando de’ Medici passed a series of laws, known as the Leggi Livornine, primarily intended to invite Sephardi Jews fleeing persecution in Spain and Portugal to settle in the city. The laws guaranteed religious tolerance, as well as financial benefits to those who set up business in Livorno, thus encouraging foreign merchants from all over Europe to settle here. As a result, Livorno became a vibrant, cosmopolitan city, home not only to a considerable Jewish community, but also to Greek, Armenian, Dutch, French and British merchants.
These foreign communities, or Nations as they became known, played a major role in establishing Livorno and developing trade there. The history of Livorno is unique in Italy because of the presence and participation of these different Nazioni, although this aspect is often sadly underestimated, particularly by the local inhabitants.