A genuine Italian city: Livorno

Livorno, or Longhorn in English, is a lovely seaside Italian city in Tuscany; 3,5 million of tourists pass from here to get on ferries and boats headed to other European and Italian cities or islands nearby, and usually the port is what most of these tourists see of the city. Livorno, in fact, it is not usually seen as a holyday destination nor a location for one-day trip. Frankly I am not aware why this happens because if you decide to visit it for a day or more I am sure you’ll brag a little with your friends about your discover; you’d probably say: “Listen, do you want to know a low profile city with no massive tourists’ crowds but with an genuine Italian spirit? Check out Livorno!” So, let me tell you about few spots that must be visited once you finally get here.

Flickr, Swamp Dragon

Livorno’s history dates back to the Etruscan times, there are even evidences of settlements during the Iron Age, but for a long part of its history Livorno has been a not-as-relevant fishing town, especially compared to its eternal rival, Pisa. Then in 1284 Genovesi overcame Pisani in the battle of Meloria off Livorno’s cost and to celebrate the defeat of their nemesis Livorno decided, centuries later, to build a tower (Torre della Meloria) to celebrate the event: what a way to get back at your rival! The tower is situated on a small island and it is visible from the shore or when passing by with ferry.

Any sea-side town must have a spot from where admire the sea and enjoying the day, Livorno’s is an 8,700 square meters square, Terrazza Mascagni. Built in 1925 this massive Piazza is referred by Livornesi as their private balcony on the sea and they are really proud about it, rightfully so. The elegant style of the square is even more characterized by the trippy black and white pavement, a unique choice for an open-air space that, strangely so, works very well. During the day the square is filled with locals walking, jogging, skateboarding, playing football, or just relaxing at almost any time and in the summer, it turns into a venue for concerts and events.

Close to the Terrazza there is Livorno’s aquarium, the largest in Tuscany. It opened its doors to visitors in 1937 and it was then renovated in 2010. Since the works had been completed the aquarium has 33 tanks which contain more up to 3000 marine species. The real treat though is to book a visit for the “behind the scenes” tour, where visitors can enjoy a special tour of the place, learning how it works and what marine biologist do to keep the place running.

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