Livorno - Old Fortress
The Province of Livorno runs along the coast of central Tuscany, from Piombino to Livorno, and extends for a brief stretch inland, an area alternating between plains and hills.
It also includes some islands of the Tuscan Archipelago, the best known of which is Elba, a very popular tourist destination, with varied attractions and enchanting landscapes. The other islands that are part of the province of Livorno are Capraia, Gorgonia, Pianosa and the wild Montecristo, determined by the State as Integral Natural Reserve.
The coast, known as the “Etruscan Coast” for the abundance of traces left by this ancient civilization, seamlessly fuses natural and cultural aspects. Amidst the pinewoods, long beaches, and cliffs lie well-known touristic spots, such as Castiglioncello, Rosignano Marittimo, Marina di Cecina, Marina di Bibbona and the captivating Gulf of Baratti and Populonia, all rich in history and precious archaeological artifacts.
Of a distinct naturalistic character, Val di Cornia comprises a vast network of protected areas, including the Sterpaia Coastal Park (Parco Costiero), typical to coastal scenery of the Maremma; the Rimigliano Coastal Park, rich in Mediterranean vegetation; and further inland, the Parco Forestale di Poggio Neri, and the Montoni Montoni Natural Park with its magnificent oak forests.
The entire territory, from the coast to the inland areas, shows signs of the age-old presence of man and his work, from the Etruscan necropolises in the Gulf of Baratti to the evidence of ancient mineral extraction in the Colline Metallifere (lit. Metal-Bearing Hills). Not only, but the typical Medieval villages, such as Campiglia Marittima, Suvereto and Sassetta boast artistic treasures that greatly enhance the singularity of this terrain rich in colors, fragrances and flavors.
Cultural references to the area also abound, from the memoirs of the great poet Giosuè Carducci in the hamlet of Bolgheri, to those of Napoleon, who spent a brief period in exile on Elba, and painter Giovanni Fattori, originally from Livorno.
The first stop on any tour of the area would have to be Livorno, one of the most important ports in Italy and home to the Italian Naval Academy.
The city still preserves the charm and layout conferred upon it by the Medicis in the 16th and 17th Centuries: the pentagonal defensive wall surrounded by navigable moats, the distinctively red-colored fortifications such as the Old Fortress or Fortezza Vecchia, work of Antonio da Sangallo; the Cathedral and the Via Grande portico.
The Venezia Nuova district is also rather charming, built in the 17th Century on the model of the original lagoon city; it includes a dense network of canals with bridges and high buildings, and is home to many fashionable bars and typical restaurants.
The Church of Santa Caterina is of particular artistic importance, while the Sanctuary dedicated to Santa Maria delle Grazie, located not far from Livorno in the village of Montenero, is of great religious significance.
In terms of outstanding architecture, the Cisternone and the Cisternino stand out; these two large reservoirs in the Neoclassical style, by architect Poccianti, are nowadays used as venues for cultural events.
Do not miss the Giovanni Fattori Civic Museum, located in the beautiful Villa Mimbelli, which houses a magnificent collection of Tuscan paintings realized between the 19th and 20th Centuries, and more works by Fattori.
An ideal destination for a seaside vacation is the Baratti Gulf, with its picturesque port, crystal clear waters, sandy beach under the shade of cool pinewoods, and the Parco Archeologico (Archaeological Park) with Etruscan necropolises and testimonies to the ironwork of nearby Elba. The Gulf is dominated by the picturesque village of Populonia, perched on the summit of the headland and enclosed by defensive walls and a mighty fortress.
In the heart of the Colline Metallifere, the Parco Archeominerario di San Silvestro preserves evidence of the area's mining activity that harks back to Antiquity. The Park also encompasses the ruins of a Medieval mining village, making it well-worth the time required to visit it. Other places of particular cultural value include Castiglioncello, with a necropolis from the late Roman Republic era, and Cecina, with its interesting Etruscan-Roman museum. The Castagneto Carducci zone is of particular interest, comprised of several villages including Bolgheri, for some time the residence of poet Giosuè Carducci. It is still possible to admire the Oratory of San Guido and tread the path (with its two rows of cypresses) celebrated by the poet in his verses.
A village of great charm and ancient origins is Suvereto, located in a panoramic position in the hills; it boasts a remarkable artistic legacy that spans the construction of its Romanesque Church of San Giusto and the 13th-Century Town Hall, and the Fortress.
A touristic destination par excellence is the Island of Elba, known for its crystal-clear waters and high, rugged coastline opening up into bays and shingle, sand, or rocky beaches.
The island is rich in minerals and has been inhabited since ancient times, as can be seen in the typical villages of Rio Marino and Capoliveri. Most frequented by tourists are the picturesque Porto Azzurro with its grand Fortress and Portoferraio, preserving many reminders of Napoleon, e.g. the places he inhabited: the Palazzine dei Mulini with original furnishings and objects and Villa San Martino, his country residence.
The coast and islands offer numerous opportunities for pleasant days by the sea on sandy or rocky beaches, and even for indulging one's passion for water sports or sailing. Diving enthusiasts can dive down to the enthralling seabeds to admire the flora and many different fish species.
The thick woods and various protected areas give visitors the chance to go on excursions in close contact with nature, from simple walks to more arduous hikes, while a number of trails are perfect for hiking and mountain biking.
In the hills and amongst the characteristic villages scattered over the countryside, food and wine itineraries allow visitors to discover local produce and wine.
For a relaxing, therapeutic stay, the baths and spa treatments at the famous Terme di Caldana and Terme di San Giovanni spas, on the Island of Elba, are highly recommended.
The Province's calendar is chock-full of initiatives and events, the most exciting being the Accademia navale e Città di Livorno trophy, a sailing competition of international fame (end of April); other events in Livorno include rowing races between the city’s neighborhoods every June and July. Also in Livorno, the Palio Marinaro is held on the second Sunday of July. Of the cultural events, Effetto Venezia particularly stands out; it takes place in the first days of August in the Venezia Nuova district of Livorno.
Among the folk festivals, garnering its share of attention the historical procession in Campiglia Marittima, every second weekend of May. Finally, on the first Sunday of December in Suvereto is the Boar Fest (sagra), along with the Palio delle Botti (a barrel-rolling tournament), and the Giostra degli Arcieri (Archery Tournament).
Fish holds pride of place in Livornese gastronomic tradition. Particularly good local specialities include cacciucco (fish soup and toasted bread), along with mullet alla livornese in tomato sauce with garlic and parsley, salted codfish and stockfish with onion, tomato and potatoes.
The presence of a variety of different cultural influences in Livorno has given rise to unique and special dishes, among them the torta di ceci, a chickpea pie often accompanied by schiacciata, a kind of flat bread, or by salted bread; roschette, made of salted bread dough in the form of little doughnuts, and the Easter schiacciata a sweet, bread-like cake.
Notable and prized local wines include Aleatico di Portoferraio, Bianco d’Elba, Moscato d’Elba, Passito d’Elba, and Rosso di Colle Salvetti.
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