Are you looking to experience the Tuscan seaside? Livorno is a great place to visit if you’re looking for a weekend or day trip.
Despite its small town feel, in terms of population, Livorno is actually the second largest city in Italy. This port city offers some of the world’s best seafood, charming canals and beaches stretching south from the city. We are going to take you on a tour of some of our favorite spots. From the touristy must-see places to the city’s finest art, dining, and attractions, we’ve done the work for you. So sit back, pour yourself a glass of red wine, and enjoy the ride.
Here Are Our Picks for the Best Things to Do in Livorno, Italy
1. Go See the Terrazza Mascagni
One of the first things you should do in Livorno is visit the Terrazza Mascagni. This Instagram-worthy promenade offers stunning views of the waterfront, beautiful architectural design to admire, and aesthetically pleasing symmetry. Overlooking the Tyrrhenian Sea, it’s a favorite places where locals and travelers alike gather to meet friends in good weather, take a walk or run, or simply just enjoy being outdoors.
Here, you will also find the Acquario di Livorno, a modern aquarium with beautiful sea life indigenous to the Mediterranean and other ocean environments. Blacktip and zebra sharks swim in the tanks, Napoleon fish flutter by, and corals can be seen in several underwater exhibits. Just beyond the aquarium, the seafront promenade also passes by the Accademia Navale (Naval Academy).
2. Take a Walk Along the Port
Over at the west end of town, you will find the largest port in the Mediterranean. Docks are teeming with workers loading and unloading goods, ships docking and departing, and locals walking by the Livorno waterfront. You’ll also find plenty of boats and ferries waiting to take travelers like yourself to Elba and the other beautiful islands found in the Arcipelago Toscano, Sardinia, and the French island of Corsica.
This port town is famous for its historic Medici founders. Are you’re a history buff? Do you know a little about ships? If so, you’ll be excited to see that some of the tall ship masts of the Italian training vessel Amerigo Vespucci here in the harbor. From July through September, it used for training cruises. But outside of those months, travelers can board the ship for special tours.
3. Take a Boat Ride Around the Nuova Venezia (New Venice)
New Venice is a must-see while in Livorno. Back in the 1620s, this place served the ever-expanding population, offering a new district between the fortresses. The area was already home to an expansive waterway, marked by moats surrounding the city walls used for both defense and a shipping system.
The district’s designer borrowed techniques from Venice for his masterplan. Today, you can take a tour of this picture-perfect scene via a boat around the Fortezza Nuova. If you’d rather go on foot, you should go see the Piazza della Repubblica. Also nearby, the Church of Santa Caterina offers beautiful 17th-century wood choir stalls and a beautiful altar piece to see, the Coronation of the Virgin by Giorgio Vasari.
4. Roam Around the Via Grande
Are you looking to get a little shopping in? Check out the Via Grande in Livorno. Wide streets will lead you from the roundabout past the port an onward through the impressive Piazza della Repubblica. As you walk along this stretch of road, you’ll find charming boutique shops and cute eateries as well as several important structures. At the end of the Via Grande is the Monumento dei Quattro Mori. The center of the plaza contains the Cattedrale di San Francesco.
5. Santuario di Montenero
Take a 30 minute drive from central Livorno and wind your way up into the hills. Here, you will find the Santuario di Montenero, home to the beautiful image of the Lady of Our Grace. This sacred image pays respect to the Madonna of Montenero, a 14th-century painting originating from the Pisano school.
While you here, you can also ride from Montenero on a century-old funicular down to the sanctuary. It began as a small oratory in the Middle Ages. After being richly decorated in the 16th and 17th centuries, it became a basilica in 1818. Some of the area’s highlights include the 18th-century Cappella della Vergine, which houses the sacred image and the gallery of ex-votos. We highly suggest coming during sunset to watch the view from the terrace.
6. Mercato Centrale (Central Market)
Dive right into the Livorno local culture at the Mercato Centrale. This colorful market is housed in 19th-century building designed by Angiolo Badaloni. Six days a week (Monday through Saturday), locals and travelers join in the riot of activity, filling up their shopping bags with items and stomachs with fresh samples. More than 200 shops and stalls take part in the central market, offering everything you need to pack that perfect summer picnic.
Local cheeses and salamis set perfectly cut, packaged and ready for purchase. Mouth-watering fruits stack piled high on wooden carts and produce shelves alongside fresh coffee grounds and pastries. This is a foodie’s paradise. And it gets even better. The local farmer’s market is just next door. Prepare to spend all your money.
7. Fortezza Vecchia (Old Fortress)
Make your way down to the old port area to scope out a little bit of history. Built for the Medicis between 1521 and 1534, the Fortezza Vecchia is one of the coolest places to visit in Livorno. There is so much history packed into these stone walls. Its structure is dominated by the Mastio di Matilde, incorporated from an 11th century castle – and Livorno’s oldest remaining structure from the Middle Ages.
8. Piazza della Repubblica
Spanning some 19,000 square meters, the Piazza della Repubblica is one of the largest squares in all of Livorno. It’s in this lively place that the locals gather to listen to live music, as well as attend a slew of large events that happen every year. The construction of the square can be traced all the way back to its early 19th century construction by the architect Luigi Bettarini.
Perhaps you’ve heard about this famous scene from the poet Giorgio Caproni. In one of his passages, he said: “Farewell to the waltz of grass at night, and in Calambrone; farewell to the Valtone and to the boats and crazy girls, shouting to touch the Marzocco without paying the price.” In fact, once upon a time, the Livornese even called the square Voltone for the time it spanned the Royal Canal.
Walking around the plaza, you will see one side of the lovely Cisternino. This elegant neoclassical style building was constructed in the 19th century, bringing hydraulic power to the Livorni city center.
9. Day Trip to Pisa
One of the main reasons people visit Livorno is to take a day trip to nearby Pisa. Ultimately, Livorno serves as a gateway city to Florence as well. While Livorno is an amazing city in its own right, we really can’t blame travelers for wanting to see the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Putting aside the legendary Campanile, the Piazza dei Miracoli is full of historic buildings like the Pisa Cathedral and Pisa Baptistery.
10. Museo Civico
You’ll find the lovely and historic Museo Civico tucked away between the Villa Mimbelli and framed by stunning gardens. It first opened in 1994, home to a rich collection of artwork and artifacts. Walk around the three floors and you’ll find work from notable artists including Giovanni Fattori and more. Encompassing several hundred years of history, the collection offers fascinating insight into the world of craftsmanship and one’s painting style.
11. Meloria Islands
Located off the coast of Livorno, the Meloria Islands are a series of rocky islands home to some pretty interesting things. For eight years, they have been a protected reserve, as well as a popular place among the locals for swimming, diving, and relaxing in the Ligurian Sea. To get there, hire out a boat from the port of Livorno and sail out. Here, the simplest things in life bring the greatest pleasures – sunbathing on warm rocks, exploring hidden coves, and cooling down in the shallow, clear waters.
Book Your Trip to Go See the Best Places in Livorno
We hope you enjoyed reading our article about the best places to visit in Livorno. This culturally rich town in Tuscany offers the perfect escape for a traveler seeking authenticity and some R&R. From perusing port side towns, getting a close up look of medieval art and architecture, and exploring the neighboring islands, you will never run out of things to do. Which one of the places on our list do you want to see the most? Let us know in the comment section below.
Are you looking for more places to visit on your Italian adventure? Lucky you. We’ve got just what you need:
Questions and Comments
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