Think of Tuscany, and Livorno most probably won't be the first place that comes to mind. Even its English name, Leghorn, doesn’t ring a bell to many.
And yet the port city of Livorno is Tuscany’s third largest city after Florence and Prato, with a lively population of around 156,000 and an extremely favourable position on the Tuscan coast.
What Livorno has to offer
Livorno is a busy commercial and passenger port, handling ferries to the islands of Sardinia and Corsica, and cruise ships almost all year round. The city itself is divided up by a series of wide canals, giving it an atmosphere that is unique in Tuscany. It has a great food market and some excellent fish restaurants and, despite extensive war damage, still retains many fascinating points of interest which together recount the town’s four-hundred years of history.
The surrounding province of Livorno, stretching to the south, offers a mixture of well-equipped seaside resorts and stunning wild sandy beaches. Away from the coast, the gentle hilly landscape is dotted with many small towns and villages of great charm.
Fine wines to the South of Livorno
One of Italy’s most fashionable wines, Sassicaia, is produced here in the Bolgheri winegrowing area, as are many other good quality labels, and you can explore the wine routes and vineyards in an area that is relatively crowd-free. So, whether you come for the city or the countryside, Livorno has plenty of undiscovered territory to explore.
The People of Livorno
When the Florentine Medici rulers first established the city in the late-16th century, they passed a seried of laws called the "Leggi Livornine" inviting people from any race, religion or background to come and populate their newly-constructed port-side town, even offering immunity to those with a dubious past. So it is hardly surprising that the resulting population was a varied and colourful one, containing a wealth of cultures, languages, and trades.
Livornese sense of humour
Today’s Livornese are an inventive people, used to getting by when times are hard. They are famous for their irreverent sense of humour, their laid back nature and their love of life in general. Unlike other Tuscan cities, Livorno is a place where nobody really minds if you don’t know your Michelangelos from your Leonardos. Although the city does not want for cultural pursuits, you can adopt a much more relaxed pace and enjoy the sunshine and food as well!