The bastions of the Fortezza Vecchia (Old Fortress) overlooking the sea give many visitors their first sight of Livorno, the „ideal city“ built by the Medici, Grand Dukes of Tuscany.
Today, the Medicean Darsena, the old port of this welcoming city, is a lively meeting place and port of call.
Here Tuscany meets the Mediterranean, to which it is tied by centuries of history, culture and trade.
A splendid seafront walk, often depicted in paintings by the Macchiaioli school, runs through palm trees and tamarisks, past cliffs, shingle beaches and rocks sculpted by the wind and waves. From the Port of Livorno, dominated by the ancient Medicean Fortress, where fishing boats and leisure craft are moored, Viale Italia runs for nine enchanting kilometres to the village of Antignano. Along the avenue are bathing establishments, stands of pine trees where painting exhibitions are held, pastel-coloured Art nouveau villas, inviting characteristic kiosks for a welcome rest, moorings and marinas and the greenery of the Caprilli Racecourse where prestigious horse races are held during the season. The Terrazza Mascagni offers wonderful views of Gorgona and Capraia, two islands of the Tuscan Archipelago and Corsica. The scenic route continues as far as Quercianella along a rocky coast with limpid waters, a paradise for fischermen and scuba divers.
EVENTS IN LIVORNO
Livorno is enlivened all year round by original, interesting events. Effetto Venezia is a summer festival with dozens of small and large scale initiatives. It is named for the old quarter where it is held, built along the Medicean canals. Many events are held at sea during spring and summer, when the Mediterranean is at its loveliest: the City of Livorno Naval Academy Sailing Trophy (TAN) and traditional rowing races such as the Palio Marinario, the Risi’atori Cup and the Ilio Barontini Cup. An intense theatrical and operatic season, classical and modern music concerts important painting exhibitions, above all from the Macchiaioli tradition, and horse races at the Francesco Caprilli track are examples of the various entertainment possibilities in Livorno
Pisa's origins remained unknown for centuries. The city lies at the junction of two rivers, the Arno and the Serchio in the Ligurian Sea forming a laguna area. The Pelasgi, the Greeks, the Etruscans and the Ligurians have variously been proposed as founders of the city. Archeological remains from the 5th century BC confirmed the existence of a city at the sea, trading with Greeks and Gauls. The presence of an Etruscan necropolis, discovered during excavations in the Arena Garibaldi in 1991, allowed to clarify its Etruscan origins.
Ancient Roman authors referred to Pisa as an old city. Servius wrote that the Teuti, or Pelopes, the king of the Pisei, founded the town thirteen centuries before the start of the common era. Strabo referred Pisa's origins to the mythical Nestor, king of Pylos, after the fall of Troy. Virgil in his Aeneid states that Pisa was already a great and developed centre by the times described; the foundation of the city in the 'Etruscan lands' has been credited to settlers from the Alpheus coast.
The maritime role of Pisa should have been already prominent if the ancient authorities ascribed to it the invention of the rostrum: it took advantage of being the only port along the western coast from Genoa (then a small village) to Ostia. Pisa served as a base for Roman naval expeditions against Ligurians, Gauls and Carthaginians. In 180 BC, it became a Roman colony under Roman law, as Portus Pisanus. In 89 BC, Portus Pisanus became a municipium. Emperor Augustus fortified the colony into an important port and changed the name in Colonia Iulia obsequens. From 313 it became the seat of a bishopric.
While the Leaning Tower is the most famous image of the city, it is one of many works of art and architecture in the city's Piazza del Duomo, also known, since 20th century, as Piazza dei Miracoli (Square of Miracles), to the north of the old town center. The Piazza del Duomo also houses the Duomo (the Cathedral), the Baptistry and the Camposanto Monumentale (the monumental cemetery).
Siena is probably Italy's loveliest medieval city, and a trip worth making even if you are in Florence and Tuscany for just a few days. Siena's heart is its central piazza known as Il Campo and world-reknown for its famous Palio, a festival and horse race that takes place on the piazza itself two times each summer (Movie audiences worldwide can see Siena and the Palio in the last James Bond movie, Quantum of Solace.)
Siena is said to have been founded by Senius, son of Remus, one of the two legendary founders of Rome thus Siena's emblem is the she-wolf who suckled Remus and Romulus - you'll find many statues throughout the city. The city sits over three hills with its heart the huge piazza known as Il Campo, where the Roman forum used to be. Rebuilt during the rule of the Council of Nine, a quasi-democratic group from 1287 to 1355, the nine sections of the fan-like brick pavement represent the council and symbolizes the Madonna's cloak which sheltered Siena.
The Palio is the most important event in Siena, taking place on July 2 and August 16 every year.
In the Palio the various Sienese "contrade", or areas in which the city is divided, challenge in other in a passionate horse race in the heart of the city in the Piazza del Campo.
Originally, there were about fifty-nine "Contrade"; now only seventeen remain, ten of which take part in the historical pageant and in the race at each Palio (seven by right and three drawn by lots).
The 17 Contrade are: Eagle, Snail, Wave, Panther, Forest, Tortoise, Owl, Unicorn, Shell, Tower, Ram, Caterpillar, Dragon, Giraffe, Porcupine, She-Wolf, Goose.
Each Contrada has its own unique emblem and colors and represents an area of the city. As one walks through the streets of Siena it is easy to know in which Contrada you currently are in by observing the flags and emblems displayed along the street. Much like street signs, corners often designate the entrance into a different Contrada with signs as the ones in the picture below.