Destination profile: Livorno, Italy


Livorno is a typical harbour town, complete with fresher-than-fresh seafood and a lively fishing heritage. However, as Tuscany’s second-largest city, it often faces unfair comparisons to the region’s rural ideal. But, look beyond its busy port to a charmingly worn old town interspersed with canals and fringed by a Belle Époque waterfront and pebbly beaches. In between its waterways, you’ll find everything from intricately baroque churches to monolithic red stone forts that date as far back as the 11th century. For something a little different, there’s a vintage workshop exhibition dedicated to that quintessentially Italian mode of transportation – the Vespa.

Tuscany

However, Livorno’s real strength is as a gateway into the delights of Tuscany. It’s a land that rolling hill clichés and shady olive grove tropes are at once accurate and an injustice. Perhaps it’s the Renaissance artistry – names like Donatello, da Vinci and Michelangelo are all represented– or it might be its grand medieval cities that make ‘Italy’s Art Gallery’ so alluring. Yet, the real Tuscany is to be found outside its UNESCO-listed headlines; hilltop towns and valley villages provide terracotta and sandstone colour to contrast against endless green landscapes. And, while San Gimignano’s frescoes are stunning, Monte Oliveto Maggiore’s quiet monastery, Bagno Vignoni’s spa and the lesser-known charm of Pitigliano and Volterra offer a memorable retreat from the crowds. And throughout, you’ll be treated to that famous Tuscan cuisine. There’s hand-made pasta, creamy liver pâtés and mouthwatering bruschetta, all washed down with some of that signature vino. In short, Tuscany cooks and the world eats.

Pisa

Moving out of Livorno, the chances are that your first introduction to the region will be made at Pisa, just a short drive – or even shorter train ride – up the coast. Learn why this erudite city – its university dates back to the 1300s – is much more than its unbalanced centrepiece, with a walk through its historic centre. Highlights include Gothic churches and Renaissance piazzas but no self-respecting Romanesque town in Italy could be without a cathedral. And Pisa’s tiered marble Duomo was once Europe’s largest and remains among its most impressive.

Florence

Continue inland for Tuscany’s capital, Florence. Walk its narrow streets to reach the basilicas, cathedrals and art galleries that centred Renaissance Florence as the cultural heart of medieval Europe. And it’s often said that not much has changed but the fashion; the birthplace of a certain Guccio Gucci, chic boutiques now rub shoulders with 15th century palaces. Whatever your tastes, don’t miss out on the Galleria degli Uffizi, billed as ‘the world’s premiere collection of Italian Renaissance art’.

Lucca

Lastly, leafy Lucca – a more off-the-beatentrack alternative to its heavyweight neighbours – is another ideal day trip out of Livorno. Journey beyond its 16th century walls to discover fine architectural treats steeped in a fascinating history. Red-roofed buildings line cobbled streets as afternoons are effortlessly whiled away in plaza-side cafés. Beyond the usual offerings of cathedrals, palaces and museums, head out into its hilly ring for spa waters and heritage villas; it’s the ideal post-cruise break.

When to go

In summer the mercury maxes out around a little over 30°C meaning blue skies and spectacular vistas. However, during the shoulder seasons from May to June and September to October, piazza wanders are much more manageable. And, while winters rarely see freezing, there is a certain charm to Tuscany without the crowds.

Who to cruise with

You’ll be spoilt for choice with Azamara Cruises, Crystal Cruises, Holland America Line, Oceania Cruises, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Seabourn, SeaDream Yacht Club and Silversea all sailing to Livorno.

Scott Anderson is General Manager at The Luxury Cruise Company. The Luxury Cruise Company is your port of call for incredible cruise holidays.

If you would like to be a guest blogger on A Luxury Travel Blog in order to raise your profile, please contact us.


Comments (16)

  1. Steven Ham says:

    I’ve been to both Florence and Pisa and fell in love with both of them though that was a number of years ago and I feel that I’m being drawn back by all that Renaissance beauty. It would also be great to call in on the vintage Vespa workshop, I’m not a petrolhead but is there anything more quintessentially Italian than the Vespa with its shining hairdryer notes echoing back off of narrow cobbled streets?

    I’d never thought of cruising along the Italian coast so this has opened up a whole new way of thinking on Italy for me. I’m getting into cruising where you wake-up on your way to another exciting new destination without having to deal with all the planning and logistics. Even better you don’t have to keep packing and unpacking.

    • Hello Steven.
      Yes you have hit the nail on the head there with the benefits of cruises – plus its a safe environment and very socialble too! And you get to see alot of a country in short amount of time- and if you fall in love with the destination pop back for a longer stay!

  2. James Rock says:

    I have visited Rome for the first time. it has been such a wonderful journey for me as i enjoyed a lot there. But after going through your complete blog i think Livorno in Italy will be more exciting place to visit. if i gets the chance to visit Italy again then surely i will be visiting this beautiful place. Such a great information shared by you. thanks for sharing it.

  3. Jeff G says:

    I like the idea of Livorno as a gateway to Tuscany. To be honest, Florence is getting a bit too busy and something of a tourist trap. Being going down hill ever since Forster wrote “ A room with a view.” I much prefer something a little quieter and authentically Tuscan.

  4. Justine Wright says:

    Italy is on my list of places I’d like to visit in the next few years, I’m just not too sure of how things will change with restrictions and passports and such after Brexit. I guess that’s a factor that’s affecting a lot of hopeful travel plans lately. There’s certainly lots to appreciate in Tuscany and Livorno sounds lovely. I imagine it’s a quieter respite if it’s not as hugely popular during the high tourist seasons. I’d probably go for May to June for slightly fewer crowds, especially if the weather is still decent enough.

    • Hi Justine
      Yes the Brexit issue is a concerning one for many – however we are still getting plenty of interest for Med cruises and it doesnt seem to be putting people off. In the worst case scenario you would need a visa, but personally I don’t that it will come to that.

  5. Lydia Haigh says:

    What’s the situation on the leaning tower of Pisa nowadays? Has it been stabilised? Are we allowed to climb up it?

  6. Alex C says:

    Italy is such a beautiful country. I don’t get to see a lot of Livorno but this article has really opened my eyes. Thank you! Just need to watch out for wild boars from what I hear in the news.

  7. Tasha M says:

    There have been a few films set in Italy, it does seem to make a picture perfect backdrop. I’d love to go to Tuscany one day, so I’ll keep Livorno in mind. I can’t see the ‘leaning tower of Pisa’ anymore without picturing all the Instagram shots of people with it in the distance as though they’re holding it or touching the top of it!

  8. Irma Owen says:

    I’ve never been to Livorno, but has always had this dream of holidaying in Tuscany. The quiet countryside and all those scenic, lush hillsides are really enticing. I’ve read somewhere though, that Livorno is popular as a stop for cruise ships and also known as New Venice. But have doubts if I can enjoy Livorno and nearby areas as much if I go on a cruise, as I know cruises have limited time. Anybody ever tried?

    • Hi Irma
      Ive not heard of Livorno being the New Venice but maybe it is! As the author of the article and a cruise travel professional, yes ships do stop at Livorno and you can see all the places mentioned in my article on a ships tour or by yourself. Of course – if you want to see them all then it would take longer than a day – so maybe plan a long weekend!

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