At water level – the canals

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This is part two of our Livornese boat trip, see part one here.  With the Fortezza Vecchia behind us we enter the Quartiere Venezia, the oldest part of the city, built around a network of canals.

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Passing my favourite Venezia house, the Palazzo del Refugio, built in the 1750’s as a school for orphans.

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Two of the most unconventional gardens of Livorno.

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Next is the church of Santa Caterina. Here the lantern of the 63 m high cupola. Our guide Lucia scored cheap points from the fact that it’s eight metres higher than the leaning tower of Pisa, whereupon the Italian majority of the group cheered enthusiastically! (The bitter rivalry between Livorno and Pisa goes back centuries, but the wrangle is mostly for fun nowadays)

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Near-water-dining.

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Approaching the Fortezza Nuova

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passing Pontino

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with its quaint och brightly coloured cantine.

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After having rounded the Fortezza Nuova we enter the darkness under Piazza della Repubblica, a large square which is also a bridge over the canal. A few beautiful grates like this one act like skylights for the boaters underneath.

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Coming out into the daylight again,

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steering ahead on the Fosso Reale, the canal that once was a moat around the fortified city. Coming up is the Mercato Centrale, the covered market.

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This part of the canal is lined with grand and beautiful palazzi. Palazzo Maurogordato is in a sad state of neglect but under renovation.

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The streets by the canals have cellars, cantine, which are used for storage, as workshops or boat houses. Some have their own jetty and garden furniture. I hope to some time be invited in to one of these, I am very curious to see what they look like inside!

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In this cantina a number of civilians sought protection during one the massive bombings of Livorno. They were all killed. The wounds of the war are still very much present in this town.

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Back in the port again this boat trip has come to its end. I hope you enjoyed it!

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At water level – the port

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Since Livorno is built around the port and the canals, a boat trip is a great way to see the city. But it took a visit from Swedish friends for me to finally get round to booking a tour.

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In two blog posts I’ll show you a little bit of what we saw on this sunny day in April.

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The tour started in the outer part of the port, so we took a walk over the bridge to the Molo Mediceo, the Medici pier. It’s a nice walk along the 16th century walls with its fortification tower. Here and there you see people fishing with rods.

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From the pilots’ quay you see the old silo and the Corsica ferry (and in between them the tiny steeple of San Ferdinando church in Venezia).

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I was really impressed with our guide Lucia, who alternated flawlessly between English and Italian without a second’s pause for the whole hour.

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On our way in to town we passed ferries, cruise ships and private yachts, all looking enormous from our point of view.

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The inner, old port, is where the fishing boats are berthed and the quays are filled with nets and tackle. The Livornesi love their fish and seafood.

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The old silo up close. Some people find it hideous, but I love it. I have a weak spot for this kind of architecture. And wouldn’t it be great as a tourist centre/exhibition hall/hotel, perfectly located near the ferries and cruise ships?

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Passing the Fortezza Vecchia, the old fortress, with Matilda’s keep hiding behind the palazzo of Ferdinando I de Medici. It stands on the bastion Canaviglia, which was named after the Neapolitan admiral Cesare Cavaniglia. Somehow the Livornesi found it easier to transpose a few letters and pronounce it Canaviglia instead, and so the bastion is called up until this day!

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One of the marble lions adorning the bastions. As we pass this kittie, we enter the canal system, but that part of the tour will take place in my next post (see it here).

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For my friend I

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This post is especially to my friend I, because I know he would love to stand here, at the Terrazza Mascagni, and watch the container ships enter the port of Livorno.

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To see the tugboats and pilots in action.

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In rough weather there can be a swarm of tugs around a ship this size. But on a calm day like this one is enough.

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I hope you’ll stand gazing here one day, in this magical spot, where even the freight ships become beautiful!

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A room with a canal

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So, I am back home after a very different trip. The first trip to Livorno that wasn’t about photography. Nor vacation.  It was about getting a little place of my own. An exciting and exhausting process that will hopefully lead to good things in the future.

 

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These were the first two items to move in while the flat was still being painted, you might recognise the photo from the exhibition of mobile photos, Uno sguardo dentro la città.

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The Venezia quarters, close to the harbour in the old city centre and crisscrossed by canals, is now a place I can call home. How amazing is that?

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