While Livorno is less famous, and more industrial, than its nearby Tuscan counterparts, its non-pretentious character has an appeal of its own. You’ll find Venice-inspired canals, excellent family attractions, interesting museums and nearby scenic castles. Take your time to explore this authentic port city and then set out to see the beautiful Tyrrhenian coast, where picturesque historic castles, vineyards and cliffs overlook the Ligurian Sea.
Livorno, called Leghorn in English, may have none of Italy's most famous landmarks, but it has many attractions. The 17th-century canals of Piccola Venezia (Little Venice) are a good place to start. Among the canals sits the Piazza della Repubblica. This large square is flanked by two imposing statues and is home to the 16th-century Fortezza Nuova, a castle surrounded by picturesque parkland.
Pay a visit to Museo Civico Giovanni Fattori to see treasured works belonging to Italian Impressionists. Families will enjoy the Livorno Aquarium and the Museo di Storia Naturale del Mediterraneo, which is home to a large finback whale skeleton.
This well-connected port city is a good access point to the scenic Tuscany coastline. Rent a car and take a day trip along the winding road to the beaches in the south. Stop at the beautifully restored Castello del Boccale and Castello Sonnino with its winery. Cinque Terre lies to the north of Livorno and its five villages are best reached by train, or ferry in summer.
Back in Livorno, dine on fish stew at a traditional osteria or sip on a Ponce alla Livornese, a rum-and-coffee beverage. Then join Italian families for an evening stroll along the scenic terrace of Terrazza Mascagni.
Livorno is located just 12 miles (20 kilometers) southwest of Pisa, where there is an international airport. Buses are a good way to get around Livorno and most routes run via the Piazza Grande. Ferries arrive and depart daily from Corsica, Sardinia, Sicily and the Tuscan Islands.