The following is a selection of quotations about Livorno by various people - from Charles Dickens to Australian travel writer Peter Moore - through history, up until recent times. I have chosen them because in some way or another they ring true to me, even if they were written perhaps decades or even centuries ago. They all capture a certain aspect of Livorno, together summing up the essence of this Medici city by the sea. They are in chronological order, starting with the most recent:
Catharina Lindgren, Swedish photographer, about 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."
Peter Moore, Australian travel writer and traveller (writing specifically about Bar Civili, the historic Ponce bar).
“Bar Civili is a microcosm of Livorno – pragmatic, open-minded and buzzing with brio.”
From an article in The Times, 10 June 2007.
Peter Moore also visited Livorno during his Vespa trip around Italy, dedicating a whole chapter to his experience in the city in his book Vroom with a View (2003):
"Livorno came into view soon afer the army camp [Camp Darby] ended, and if I hadn't had business to attend there I would have kept going. It is Italy's second biggest port and its skyline bristled with cranes and smokestacks...
"...along the waterfront to Viale Italia, a road that hugs the shoreline...Livorno was more alluring here. An attempt had been made to landscape the rocky waterfront with walkways and grassy squares, and it is lined by impressive stands of palm trees that give the place a slight French Riviera feel. Girls wearing little more than a bikini, a sarong and a cool pair of sunglasses buzzed by us on motor scooters on their way to the beach, adding to the Riviera ambience." (Vroom with a View, chapter 8).
The Vespa that Peter rode around Italy, Sophia, can still be seen in Marco Quaretta's Vespa workshop in Livorno.
Pier Paolo Pasolini, for the magazine Successo in 1959
“After Rome and Ferrara, Livorno is the city in Italy where I would most like to live. Every time I go there I leave my heart on its huge seafront busy with young people and sailors, free and happy”
“Along the wide seafront there is always an air of festivity, as in the south: but it is a festivity full of respect for the festivities of others.”
Montgomery Carmichael, the British vice consul and later consul for the area of Tuscany (except Florence), Umbria, the Marche and San Marino from 1890 to 1922. After retiring, he lived in Livorno until his death in 1936.
“Leghorn is an instance—the only instance perhaps—of a large Italian city wholly untouched by the influence and imported requirements of the tourist: that is its pre-eminent charm...”
“...there is much in Leghorn to make the traveller cease from travelling and take his rest for ever in this city by the Tyrrhenian Sea.”
“...let the traveller cease awhile from travelling and take his rest by the Liburnian shore, let him dip in the tonic waters of the Tyrrhenian Sea, and walk by its shores in the cool spring days and warm winter afternoons, drinking in the health-giving breezes and feasting on the glories of the Gorgonian Archipelago, let him mingle freely with the cheery, courteous, contented Livornesi, who dearly love to bid a stranger welcome...”
For the complete article click here
“...Leghorn (made illustrious by SMOLLETT'S grave), which is a
thriving, business-like, matter-of-fact place, where idleness is
shouldered out of the way by commerce. The regulations observed
there, in reference to trade and merchants, are very liberal and
free; and the town, of course, benefits by them.”
“... the railroad between Leghorn and Pisa, which is a good one,
and has already begun to astonish Italy with a precedent of
punctuality, order, plain dealing, and improvement--the most
dangerous and heretical astonisher of all. There must have been a
slight sensation, as of earthquake, surely, in the Vatican, when
the first Italian railroad was thrown open.” (chapter 9)
To read further quotations about Livorno, see Matteo Giunti's much more comprehensive list on the Leghorn Merchants blog