Monday, August 31, 2009

Villa Fabbricotti

Villa Fabbricotti, park, Livorno“Villa Fabbricotti”, originally a Medicean villa, was purchased by Bernardo Fabbricotti in 1881. It was enlarged and restructured by the architect Vincenzo Micheli, who built a beautiful park in the surrounding 27 hectares (67 acres) of land.Villa Fabbricotti, park, LivornoFrom this Bing Maps aerial view we can see the old tree lined avenues leading to the park, not long time ago still countryside just outside the city walls. In 1936 the villa was sold to the municipality of Livorno and, during the last war, housed first the German and then the Allied Headquarters.Villa Fabbricotti, park, LivornoNow the villa hosts the “Biblioteca Labronica” (Civic Library) and the park, much reduced in size now, is open to the public. As “Villa Fabbricotti” we usually mean the park itself, which is my favorite in town for several reasons, most of them personal. I played there as a kid, I studied in the library and flirted in the park as a student. In time, I took my own kid there to play.Villa Fabbricotti, park, LivornoEvery kid entering the park for the first time was fascinated by the charming keeper's house, amidst the green as in a fairy tale.Villa Fabbricotti, park, LivornoThis artificial grotto was another joy for the kids, because you can safely climb on top or hide inside. Not far from here there is now the infamous dangerous playground we saw few days ago.
Villa Fabbricotti, park, LivornoDuring summer months there is an open-air cinema inside the park, just in front of the library. Unfortunately chairs and screen stay there for the rest of the year, even during winter.Villa Fabbricotti, park, LivornoNear the “Piazza Matteotti” entrance there is a thriving “centro anziani” (senior citizen club), so another leg of my trip through the ages in “Villa Fabbricotti” could be already set.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

San Benedetto

San Benedetto church, LivornoThe church of “San Benedetto” was built between 1817 and 1819 on a project by Gaspero Pampaloni with the means provided by a bequest from the merchant Benedetto Fagiuoli. I am not really sure if the name of the church was chosen to honor the Saint or the munificent donor. A bell tower was added in 1860, when the rectory behind the church was enlarged.Old Mercatino Americano torn downThe church dominate one end of “Piazza XX Settembre”, now reclaimed as a public square after decades of occupation by the shanty town of the “Mercatino Americano”. The young Pietro Mascagni practised the organ in this church.

See also: Forlorn Grand Duke - Mercatino Americano - Place d'Italie?

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Fortress Seagulls

Seagull on top the Mastio di Matilde, Matilda's Keep, Fortezza Vecchia, Old Fortress, LivornoAfter “city seagulls” and “harbour seagulls” we see now a couple of “fortress seagulls”, watching the world below from the bastions of the “Fortezza Vecchia”. The first one rules on top of the 30 meter high “Mastio di Matilde” (Matilda's Keep), with a wonderful view on the Venice quarter and the whole harbour.Seagull on the wall between the Canaviglia and the Ampolletta bastions, Fortezza Vecchia, Old Fortress, LivornoThe second bird contented himself of the view from the wall between the “Canaviglia” and the “Ampolletta” bastions.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Black Eagle

Palazzo dell'Aquila Nera, Black Eagle Palace, LivornoThe “Palazzo dell'Aquila Nera” (Black Eagle Palace) is one of the best preserved building in the last stretch of the “Fosso Reale”, just before the harbour.Palazzo dell'Aquila Nera, Black Eagle Palace, LivornoThe whole first floor of this “palazzo”, built in 1856, was occupied by the Grand Hotel Royal de l'Aigle Noir, a renowned luxury venue at the time. In the rest of the building, divided into apartments, lived families of wealthy merchants.Palazzo dell'Aquila Nera, Black Eagle Palace, 28th May 1943 bomb, air raid, LivornoDuring the first Allied bombing of Livorno, on 28th May 1943, a bomb struck directly an air-raid shelter under the building killing an unprecised number of civilians.Plaque remembering the victims of the 28th May 1943 bomb, Fosso Reale, LivornoA plaque on the walled-up entrance facing the “Fosso Reale” was placed in 2004 to remember the event.Ruins of the Palazzo dell'Aquila Nera, Black Eagle Palace, LivornoExactly a month later another raid destroyed part of the palace, which was fortunately rebuilt after the war and also completely restored few years ago.

Thursday, August 27, 2009


Passengers on Mega Express, Corsica Ferries, Porto Mediceo, LivornoEvery day that I walk to the port some ferry is leaving, usually for Sardinia or Corsica. The ships are almost the same: passengers change, but not so much, they are holidaymakers.Passengers on Mega Express, Corsica Ferries, Porto Mediceo, LivornoIn the first two images, a group and then a family were leaving yesterday aboard the “Mega Express” of “Corsica Ferries” for Golfo Aranci, Sardinia.Passengers on Mega Express, Corsica Ferries, Porto Mediceo, LivornoThe last image shows the same ship for the same destination, a month ago, with obviously different passengers but not so much different types.

Search labels: Moby - ferry

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Place d'Italie?

Old stalls of the Mercatino Americano torn down, LivornoExactly a month after the “Mercatino Americano” left “Piazza XX Settembre”, and after weeks of polemics about the abandoned stalls, the old shanty town is being torn to pieces.Old Mercatino Americano torn downLike many Livornesi of my age or younger, I have never seen this square as it was: a tree lined “piazza” in front of the church of “San Benedetto”. In the meantime many trees were lost, but we gained a statue of an unlucky Grand Duke.Old postcard, piazza XX Settembre, LivornoSeveral ideas were floated for the reborn square: residents would like more parking space, while some brilliant minds would like to transform it in a place d'Italie “like the square in Paris”.View of place d'Italie in Paris, from Bing Maps
[Place d'Italie, 13e arrondissement, from Bing Maps]
I guess they have never been in Paris or simply remember the wrong place, without ever bothering to check it out.Mercatino Americano, the last stallA lone stall keeper has, since now, refused to move and is still displaying his merchandise amidst the ongoing demolition.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Piazza Attias

Piazza Attias, Livorno“Piazza Attias” takes its name from a 17th Century “Villa Attias” named after Jasach Attias, a wealthy merchant from one of the most renowned Jewish families in Livorno. After changing several owners the villa was demolished in 1968 to make room for a square surrounded by three modern buildings.Piazza Attias, LivornoThe square, not more than a parking space, become the heart of the young Livorno in the 70's and early 80's. Everybody was there or passed by, from the late afternoon to the early evening. In the following years the zone was pedestrianized with the construction of an underground parking, losing a bit of its raw charm with the new generations.Piazza Attias, LivornoThe street on the right of this image is the axis which crosses Livorno from north to south, beginning in “Piazza Grande”, crossing “Piazza Cavour” and then rejoining the “Aurelia”, the modern road which follows the ancient Roman route.Villa Attias, LivornoAs kindly requested by brattcat, I have just found an image of the old villa at the page “Piazza Attias” of the Italian version of Wikipedia.

See also: The Big Red A - The New Attias - The Red Tower - Lungomare di Antignano - Steamhip in Port - Six Months

Monday, August 24, 2009

Dangerous Playground

Dangerous playground, Villa Fabbricotti, LivornoDays before the last local elections in June, a mint new playground structure was set up in “Villa Fabbricotti”, probably the nicest park in town. The set looks modern and smartly designed, but its slide looks dangerously flat: this is because you have to go down astride instead of sitting. As a matter of fact, in the last week two kids fell to the ground, one breaking his arm the other also needing treatment in hospital.Dangerous playground, Villa Fabbricotti, LivornoAs the local papers say this thing costs 85.000 euro (120,000 US Dollars) and is built by a firm called Landscape Structures of Delano, Minnesota. The importer has already sold similar products in Italy but, if we check its gallery, we can see that all of these are equipped with traditional slides.Dangerous playground, Villa Fabbricotti, LivornoLandscape Structures has an impressive catalogue online showing dozens of sets, but only few use the flat slide, so this seems to be a deliberate choice of the local customer. The whole structure is placed, as usual in our parks, far from any tree or shadow, making its use during hot summer months at least problematic: everything is scorching to the touch.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Chiesa Valdese

Waldensian church, Chiesa Valdese, LivornoThe “Chiesa Valdese” (Waldensian church) was originally built between 1845 and 1849 by an architect Rumball, as the church of the local Scottish Presbyterian community, active as merchants in Livorno since the 17th Century.Waldensian church, Chiesa Valdese, LivornoAround 1910, with the changing of the laws about the port, the community dwindled and then practically ceased to exist, so the building was purchased by the local Waldensian Evangelical Church, present in Livorno since 1861.Old postcard, Waldensian church, Chiesa Valdese, LivornoThe church has a central location, just off “Piazza Cavour”, near the ancient “Cimitero degli Inglesi” (Englishmen's Cemetery) and the Anglican church of “San Giorgio”, both visible in the old print. The beautiful stained windows and an impressive organ were destroyed in the last war.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Livorno Airport

Delta Air Lines Boeing-767, LivornoThere are normative issues with this post, I tried to discuss them with my lawyer but she said me that she isn't a lawyer yet and is busy with her thesis. This is a piece of american soil flying over Livorno, a little north of Tweetie on the “Moby Vincent”. Actually it is a Boeing-767 safely inside its approach route to Pisa airport, well within the borders of Livorno proper, so I can post this photo. The Delta Air Lines non-stop flight from Pisa to New York is the easiest way to reach the States from Tuscany, or the other way around. The first time we took it, we found ourselves in Ireland, but this is another story...Galileo Galilei International Airport, PisaThe “Galileo Galilei” International Airport is incidentally located in Pisa, because otherwise we wouldn't have enough parking space for our scooters, but it is a mere 20 kilometers from Livorno.Galileo Galilei International Airport, PisaPisans are not entirely confident with the airport itself, so they have placed scores of strange statues around it. Their function is to protect them from the planes, the tourists and, above all, from the cohorts of Livornesi always swarming the “Galilei”.

See also: Pisan Walk (2010) - Pisan Walk 1 of 2 - Pisan Walk 2 of 2 (2011) - In Pisa (2013)

Friday, August 21, 2009


Tanker Ardenza Prima, Porto Mediceo, LivornoThe tanker “Ardenza Prima” has just finished refueling the ferry “Mega Express Three”.Sardinia Regina, Porto Mediceo, LivornoOn board the “Sardinia Regina” of Corsica Ferries lines, they have painted in yellow even their sailors.Service boat Alcide, Porto Mediceo, LivornoTwo sailors relax on board the service boat “Alcide”, moored alongside the cruise ship “Seabourn Legend”.

Search labels: ferry

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Narrow Streets, Long Names

Plaque of via degli Archi, Arches Street, Livorno“Via degli Archi” (Archways Street) is one of the strangest street in Livorno because it passes through a building. The many signs warn you of limits in width, height, speed and obviously parking.Plaque of via Nardini Despotti Mospignotti, LivornoBesides a quite narrow street we have a couple of very long names: in “Via A. Nardini Despotti Mospignotti” they shortened the name Aristide to avoid having to use a longer plaque.Plaque of via Pietro Coccoluto Ferrigni, Yorick, LivornoThat was unavoidable with “Via Pietro Coccoluto Ferrigni” called “Yorick”, which is the street where my old elementary school still is, near the Green Gas Station.

See also: Anchovies Street - Low and Dark

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


Clock, church of Sant'Andrea, LivornoAll of these clocks are on buildings facing “Viale Carducci”, the tree-lined avenue linking the railway station with the city center. The first image shows one of the four dials on the tower of the church of “Sant'Andrea”, just opposite the “Cisternone”.Clock of Livorno Centrale railway station, LivornoAt the other end of the “viale” we find the clock towering over the entrance of the main railway station, “Livorno Centrale”.Clock of the former Pirelli factory, LivornoAbout half-way we can see the clock of the former Pirelli factory, now a community center and part of the “Parterre” park.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Mulino Bianco

Mulino Bianco advertising prop, piazza Cavour, LivornoIn mid-August everything grinds to a halt here, but this time a watermill appeared in “Piazza Cavour”. It is obviously a very fake mill inspired by the “Mulino Bianco” (White Flour Mill), a brand name of the “Barilla Group”, the Italian pasta producer. They are on tour trying to teach us how to do an healthy Italian breakfast, which reasonably involves some of their products, anyhow quite good.Mulino Bianco advertising prop, piazza Cavour, LivornoPeople had to fill a form, then were offered a short lesson and a bag of products, which they could take away or consume comfortably seated outside the “mill”.

Monday, August 17, 2009


Sunset, LivornoSomeone once told me that there is a precise category, used by photo agencies and professionals, for images like this: AFS (another f.....g sunset). After discreetly checking the fact, I settled with myself for one sunset per year. To fill my 2009 quota, last Saturday I left home in the late afternoon. Taking her out for a walk, I was also trying to bring some relief to a dear friend, currently studying herself to death.Closed for vacation sign, LivornoIn the empty streets most of the shops were not only shut but, as this sign says, “closed for vacation”. Notice, in the top left corner, the international symbol for “holiday”.Luigi Orlando statue, clock, Orlando shipyard, LivornoLuigi Orlando seems not amused that the stopped clock behind him is the only surviving part of the historical Orlando Shipyard, founded in 1866 and now being wrecked by developers of luxury condos and usurped by superyacht builders.Viale Italia, lungomare, LivornoMaybe the senator and engineer is only watching the evening traffic on “Viale Italia”, a bit more lively than in town. This is the “Lungomare”, leading to the “Terrazza Mascagni” and to the “Rotonda of Ardenza”.Nazario Sauro marina, LivornoWe have already seen the “Nazario Sauro” marina, where a mural painting contest took place earlier this year. Here, sitting on the rocks by the sea, we watched the cruise ships leaving the port in a neat row, just while the incoming ferries were waiting to enter.Unidentified flying object, LivornoThis time I am sparing you the usual images of boats, to show you something different: Icarus and E.T. came to mind while this thing was flying over the ships, right into the sunset.
Right, the sunset, where everything started: I took some shots, and the first image of this post is my favorite 2009 AFS.