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About Livorno

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Livorno, sometimes in English Leghorn, (population 170,000) is a port city on the Tyrrhenian Sea on the western edge of Tuscany, Italy. It is the capital of the Province of Livorno and the third-largest port on the western coast of Italy.

History

Livorno was defined as an "ideal town" during the Italian Renaissance. Today, it reveals its history through the structure of its neighbourhoods, crossed by canals and surrounded by fortified town walls, through the tangle of its streets, which embroider the town's Venice district, and through the Medici Port characteristically overlooked by towers and fortresses leading to the town centre. Designed by the architect Bernardo Buontalenti at the end of the 16th century, Livorno underwent a period of great town planning expansion at the end of the 17th century. Near the defensive pile of the Old Fortress, a new fortress, together with the town-walls and the system of navigable canals, was then built. In the late 1580s, Ferdinando I de Medici declared Livorno a "porto Franco", which meant that the goods traded here were duty free. The "Leggi Livornine" were laws which ruled between 1590 and 1603. These laws helped the trading activities of the merchant, freedom of religion and amnesty for some penance. Thanks to these laws, Livorno became a cosmopolitan city and one of the most important ports of the entire Mediterranean area. Many foreigners moved to Livorno; Jews, Armenians, Greeks, Dutch, and English were among those who relocated to live and trade. Some Moriscos (Muslim Spaniards forcibly converted to Catholicism), much later, also moved to Livorno (from Spain and during the 18th century). During the Napoleonic Wars, trade with England was prohibited and the economy of Livorno suffered greatly. Then, in 1868, after Livorno became part of the new Kingdom of Italy, she lost her, by now, traditional status of “Porto Franco” and the city's importance declined.

Main sights

Nowadays the Venice district preserves most of its original town planning and architectural features such as the bridges, the narrow lanes, the noblemen's houses and a dense network of canals which once linked the port to its storehouses. In the 18th and 19th centuries, Livorno, by then grown up and open to the world, had a lively appearance marked by neo-classical buildings, public parks housing important museums and cultural institutions, "Liberty" villas with sea views and the market. The Museo Mascagnano houses memorabilia, documents and operas by the great composer Pietro Mascagni. Every year some of his operas are traditionally played during the lyric music season, which is organised by the Traditional Theatre of Livorno. Also the “Terrazza Mascagni”, a walkway divided from the sea by a handrail, is named in honor to Pietro Mascagni. Up in the hills the Sanctuary of Montenero, which is dedicated to Our Lady of the Graces, the patron saint of Tuscany, is a fixed destination for pilgrims. It is famous for the adjacent gallery, decorated with ex-voti mainly connected to stories of miraculous sea rescue. The "Monumento dei quattro mori" ("Monument of the Four Turks"), dedicated to Grand Duke Ferdinando I de' Medici of Tuscany, is one of the most important monuments of Livorno. In Livorno there is an important square called "Piazza della Repubblica" that contains two important monuments of Italian politicians. Thus, this square is also a bridge: in fact, under the bridge there is an old, big canal. Piazza della Repubblica is the largest bridge of Europe. Another important monument is the old fortress; an old building made with red bricks that at the time of Medici defended the city from pirates attacks. It has 3 bastion, named “Capitana”, “Ampolletta” and “Canaviglia”. The old fortress was made before the Renaissance. The new Fortress, distinct from the old one, was made at the end of the 16th century. There are some graveyards where foreign people who moved to Livorno used to be buried .

Culture

Politically, Livorno is one of the most left-leaning cities of Italy. The Communist Party of Italy was founded in Livorno on 21 January 1921. There is a breed of chicken called leghorn, named after the city. This in turn gave its name to the cartoon character Foghorn Leghorn.

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