Cork and go!

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Although supermarkets are practical, it’s got to be nicer to buy your wine in a small enoteca like this. Where you can get advice and information about the wines, as well as a good chat.

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In this place near the Piazza Grande you can also get your local wine poured from a tap, bottled and corked while you wait.
There are two types of red: dry and medium dry, and the price for one 0.75 cl bottle is just over 2 euros.
If you bring the bottle back for a refill, it’s even cheaper!

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I just had to try their tap prosecco as well. Or frizzante, which is white wine with gentle bubbles.
I guess it means the cork won’t fly.

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Still, he secured the cork in the traditional way. Just in case :-)

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The secrets of Palazzo del Refugio

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Palazzo del Refugio in Venezia was built in the 1750’s as an orphanage and school.
It was also damaged by the WWII bombings, as you can see on this Bing maps image:

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The courtyard buildings were never reconstructed after the war, and it has been on my list for a long time to try to get in there and have a look.

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A few times when I’ve passed by, the front door has been open, revealing this entrance and a colourful but very closed door out to the courtyard.

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But this time, just passing on my way to the grocery store, I found both doors open. I was inside in a jiffy, not a second to lose, this was a golden opportunity!

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I met a woman taking out her bicycle and we nodded and smiled. After a little while she came back and I thought that’s it, now she’s going to ask me to leave. I had my 15 second glimpse of the backyard.

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But I was wrong. The nice lady just showed me how to lock up when I was done and then left me with a smile.
This is why I love the Livornesi. Their friendliness and generosity towards utter strangers is fantastic. They just trust you.
(Or is it that I look so completely safe and harmless?? Hm.)

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Anyway, there I was, with as much time as I wanted, but sadly with only my small camera. Hence the so-and-so photos, but they’re ok for documenting.

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Don’t let the ruins fool you. These buildings are fully inhabited, which the criss-crossing laundry is proof of.

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Taking this shot made me quite dizzy!

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This house must have been pretty elegant with its arched windows and the remains of a tympanum on top. Now it’s a stylish dovecote.

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Offices.

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Doves with a view.

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Old arches.

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When I felt it was time to go, I carefully latched and locked the door as the lady had shown me, feeling very privileged to have seen the hidden secrets of this building that I love so much. I know there are sometimes guided tours in here, maybe once a year if that often. I was lucky!

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Piazza del Luogo Pio going through the motions

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One of the most odd looking places in Livorno is Piazza del Luogo Pio. Its church with adjacent belltower just barely survived the WWII bombings, while the surrounding buildings were demolished.

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Attached to the church was a home and school for orphans.

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The original name of the church was the somewhat lengthy Chiesa dell’Assunzione della Vergine e di San Giuseppe.

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By the time of my first visit to Livorno in April 2013 work had begun around the half ruins of the church, but by then I had no idea what was to become of it.

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The church peek-a-booing behind Palazzo del Refugio.

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Almost two years later the place looks very different.

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It is still very much a construction site, but slowly the ruins are integrated in very modern designed structures.

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This is the Bottini dell’Olio, a 17th century warehouse for olive oil. It will be connected to the church to form a museum for contemporary art.

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I will follow the work closely and with great interest. Not only because it is a fascinating piazza with a very special history – but also because this museum will be my neighbour!
This is “my” street and “my” canal, when I’m in Livorno :-)

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View from Google Maps with the construction site highlighted.

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