When it comes to your dream vacation, nothing beats a trip to Europe. And for many travelers, the best way to see Europe is by cruise. For a wondrous blend of city life and the Tuscan countryside, you should take a cruise to Livorno.
Situated south of Pisa on Italy’s west coast, attractions in Livorno include a bustling harbor, picture-perfect canals, historic buildings and plenty of bars and restaurants. Outside the city, you’ll find charming villages and the breathtakingly scenic wine country. Make the most of your time in and around Livorno with these 11 things to do.
1. Make a Trip to Pisa
As one of Italy’s most popular tourist attractions, a trip to Livorno isn’t complete without seeing the Leaning Tower of Pisa. The Tower of Pisa is a monument of medieval architecture, built from 1173 to 1399. The tower itself leans because it was built on soft ground.
Head north to Pisa where a short drive here promises a trip back in time with historic attractions like the Leaning Tower, the Pisa Cathedral, the Pisa Baptistery and the Palazzo dei Cavalieri. Pisa also has many renowned museums like the Museo Nazionale and the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo.
2. Tour the Wine Country
If you’re a lover of reds and whites, you’ll enjoy driving across northern Tuscany to Montecarlo di Lucca, a charming village in the heart of wine country and the birthplace of Carlo Collodi, author of a famous children’s book.
With a trip to a local estate and vineyard, you’ll learn about winemaking and sample the results while nibbling on fresh-baked bread, salami and cheese. Before you leave, you can purchase a bottle of wine to take home if you desire.
3. Fall in Love with Florence
Consider visiting the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, the Palazzo Vecchio, the Baptistery of St. John and Ponte Vecchio, a medieval stone bridge featuring an array of built-in shops.
4. Discover the Medieval Town of Lucca
Take a half-day tour to Lucca where you’ll be treated to Tuscan scenery and medieval history and culture. Stroll along Lucca’s beautiful public walkway that stretches for two and a half miles. It’s formed by the ramparts that are still intact from the city’s Renaissance Walls.
Lucca is a walled city rich in art, history and culture, which you’ll discover in its museums, churches, towers and an ancient Roman amphitheater. Take time for shopping here too. Handmade leather handbags, wallets and bags are a particular find in Lucca.
5. Tour Picturesque Villages
On a guided coach tour along the Cinque Terre National Park, you’ll be treated to the culture of different villages. Enjoy a drive along the Tuscany coastline with views of hillsides and amazing landscapes. Portovenere is named a UNESCO World Heritage site for its beauty and medieval culture. You’ll enjoy a guided tour and have free time for shopping too.
Afterward, you will go to Monterosso by motorboat, and enjoy local cuisine, shopping and sightseeing. Your excursion wraps up with a train ride to Levanto village, a hilly town covered with pine and olive trees and featuring a pristinely preserved medieval castle.
6. Shop the Mercato Centrale (Central Market)
To see Livorno like a local, make plans to shop the Central Market, situated just south of the New Fort along the canal. Inside the massive building erected late in the 19th century, you will find over 200 shops and stalls selling all kinds of local food products, from dried meats and cheeses to fresh-baked bread and wine.
Outside of the Central Market, a farmers’ market offers more fresh produce, local crafts and clothing.
7. Stop by Fortezza Vecchia
Built in the early 1500s and facing out to sea, Livorno’s Fortezza Vecchia (the Old Fort) allowed the city’s defenders to see the enemy coming. These days, the battlements and towers offer stunning views of the harbor. The Old Fort is open for public tours, and it plays host to community events like art shows and concerts.
8. Don’t Forget to Check Out Fortezza Nuova
Built later in the 16th century, Fortezza Nuova (the New Fort) helped to shore up the city’s defenses. Just east of the Old Fort in Livorno’s New Venice neighborhood, the New Fort is surrounded by canals, and the interior has been transformed into a beautiful park and garden. With a tour here you can drink in remarkable views from the battlements and discover secret passageways.
9. Explore Venezia Nuova (New Venice)
The New Fort sits in the area of Livorno called Venezia Nuova (New Venice). This 17th-century neighborhood features a system of canals built by Venetian workers in the style of their home city. Today, you’ll still see boats docked outside the homes of New Venice residents, and you’ll find lots of bars and restaurants occupying centuries-old warehouses.
10. Visit Chiesa di San Ferdinando (the Church of St. Ferdinand)
If you love beautiful churches, you’ll enjoy a visit to The Church of St. Ferdinand (Chiesa di San Ferdinando) found between the Old Fort and the New Fort. With an unfinished exterior, you might think this church is rather plain, but you only have to step inside to appreciate its splendor. The baroque design features gorgeous details like marble columns, ornate artwork and magnificent statues.
11. Take a Walk on Terrazza Mascagni (Mascagni Terrace)
Just outside the aquarium, the Terrazza Mascagni is a great place to walk on a warm day. Sporting a chic white and black checkerboard pattern, the terrace offers majestic sea views, lots of marble benches for people-watching and an enchanting gazebo at the south end.
When it’s time to plan a vacation, you can’t go wrong with a European cruise to Livorno, Italy, and other picturesque ports. And when you’re looking for things to do in Livorno, try any of these 11 ideas. From exploring ancient fortresses to touring the wine country, you’ll make memories to last a lifetime