24-2-2014 Stockholm meets Livorno
When looking for a day out from Florence in April 2013, Swedish photographer Catharina Lindgren was drawn to Livorno after seeing a photo of the Cisternone, the strikingly unusual 19th-century Neo-Classical water cistern that looms large in Viale Carducci. Clearly, she realised, Livorno was unlike any other place in Tuscany, and she couldn’t wait to discover it.
The most magical place
Then she found the Terrazza Mascagni: “it was what got me hooked on Livorno and made me go there. I thought it looked like the most magical place, this crazy gigantic photogenic bathroom floor by the sea. It is the spot where I begin and end my Livorno trips, and that I miss every day. One of my absolute favourite places in the world.” In other words, Catharina fell in love with this very unique Tuscan city… but little did she know where her Livornese day-trip would lead.
Since that first trip, Catharina has been back to Livorno three times for longer stays. After the Cisternone and the Terrazza Mascagni, Catharina discovered the Terme del Corallo, the beautiful old spa complex that is lying in pitiful decay near the railway station. Wondering how she could get a closer look at these and other hidden gems, she contacted fellow photographer, Giacomo Spagnoli, co-author of the Livorno Daily Photo blog. Giacomo was extremely helpful, knowing who to get in touch with, and starting off a chain of contacts for Catharina that would help her during her various trips: she obtained permission to access the Terme del Corallo (thanks to the Comune di Livorno) and the Cisternone (thanks to ASA, the local water company), as well as the 19th-century Dutch Church and the Old English Cemetery (with the help of the Livorno delle Nazioni cultural association), two more sites in dire need of restoration.
The latest trip
Catharina’s most recent stay in Livorno was just a few weeks ago, and that was when I met her for the first time. I felt very privileged when she invited me to go with her on a visit to the Cisternino, the Cisternone's 'little sister', and the magical Springs of Colognole (once again with ASA), the source of Livorno's drinking water. I even had a couple of much-needed private photography lessons!
Exhibition in Stockholm
As Catharina says, she feels she is “on a mission” now, because she is planning to organise a photographic exhibition about Livorno at the Italian Cultural Institute in Stockholm. This means she also has a great excuse to keep coming back to her favourite Italian city!
Catharina lives in Stockholm, but originally comes from a small island in the Gothenburg archipelago. Appropriately, she works in the photographic archives of the Stockholm City Museum.
Her stunning photographs of Livorno - including all the places mentioned in this article - can be seen on her Matilda’s Keep blog (named after the old tower in the Fortezza Vecchia), and on her Facebook page.
25th February 2014