There is something exciting about port towns that is growing in me. The beauty and charm of living next to the sea is quite enticing. I can already imagine waking up each day to the sight of boats sailing back and forth; watching ducks swim and seagulls fly; seeing fishermen leave with their nets and return with their day’s haul; and having the smell of salt and fish in the air. Each day would unfold like a carefully choreographed show, and the thought of it is enough to make the wanderlust in me dance. It’s quite tempting to sell everything, buy a boat, sail away, and live happily ever after near the ocean. That is, until I remember that I love all my shoes too much to sell them.
Livorno is a major commercial port on the western coast of Tuscany, Italy. Several cruise ships dock here at the same time; and most people—myself included—usually only pass through to catch a boat to their next destination. That’s a shame because this port city deserves further exploration—or at the very least, a walk through. I decided to spend a few hours on my last visit here, and I ended up loving the place.
Here’s my list of what you shouldn’t miss in Livorno:
See the Monumento dei Quattro MoriMake your way to Piazza Micheli, where the powerful Monumento dei Quattro Mori or “Monument of the Four Moors” is located. It’s eye-catching and dominates the port area. The monument is a symbol of the port, and is a metaphor for the victory of the Medici Grand Dukes of Tuscany over the pirates that roamed the entire Mediterranean area. It is said that from a particular spot in the square, the noses of all four moors can be seen at the same time; and according to popular tradition, finding this spot is supposed to bring good luck. Unfortunately, let’s just say it didn’t turn out to be my lucky day.
Take a boat tour with Livorno in Battello
This is one of the best things I did in Livorno, and I highly recommend it. Livorno in Battello takes you on an amazing one hour guided tour through the ancient maritime traditions of the port town. I enjoyed navigating through awe-inspiring canals and waterways while discovering some of the major historic landmarks of Livorno and the stories behind their walls.
Try a Livornese cacciucco
Cacciucco is an Italian fish stew/soup native to the western coastal towns of Tuscany and Liguria. According to popular belief, this soup was typically prepared by very poor families using leftover pieces of fish and stale bread. Sometimes called “cacciucco ala livornese”, this dish is especially associated with Livorno, so it is only natural while in the place to try out this local fare. The hearty stew consists of different types of fish (they say at least six or seven), various vegetables, and herbs, which renders it flavorful. The best part about eating fish right from the fisherman’s net is that you get to enjoy the freshness of the catch and the distinct taste of the sea. The meal was a party-in-my-mouth kind of delicious and quite filling, too.
Unwind at Terrazza Mascagni
After walking along Livorno’s elegant seafront promenade, take the time to slow down and relax at Terrazza Mascagni. Watch the waves crash against the rocks and enjoy the warm sea breeze in this perfect spot to unwind and take in scenic views of the waters. The picturesque black and white tiles here create a beautiful contrast against the ocean backdrop, giving the space a whole lot of character. It is almost impossible to look out to the horizon and not dream. I couldn’t help but wonder how magnificent it would be to watch the sunset here, ships sail off to their next adventures.If you ever find yourself in Livorno, perhaps allow yourself to linger before heading to your next destination. Slow down and get lost. You won’t regret it. My visit may have been short, but it was definitely worthwhile.