Looking for the best day trips from Livorno while your ship is docked in port? The Tuscan cruise port of Livorno, located on the northwest coast of Italy, is a base from which to explore a wealth of scenery and sites in Tuscany, some of which we’ll discuss here.
Livorno suffered significant damage in the war and rebuilt afterward. There are no “must-see” sights, but to quote travel guru Rick Steves, “…If you’ve already seen Florence’s famous art treasures, save yourself bus time and just enjoy slice-of-life Italy in Livorno.” So let’s talk about some things to do in Livorno.
There is an area called Venezia Nuova (New Venice) around the Fortezza Nuova. The fort is worth a visit, with canals and cafes that surround it provide additional interest.
In the 1600s, due to its location and to a legally mandated religious tolerance, Livorno became a melting pot of Hebrew, Italian, Portuguese, Arabic, Greek, Turkish and Spanish influences. Seafaring people from the rest of the world were attracted as well by trade and commerce.
The Mercato Nuovo from the late 1800s sells food items and contains the ever-present Italian coffee bars. A market where the locals shop is one of the best ways to assimilate and sample the local culture. You’ll find food sales housed inside the building with an outdoor market featuring clothing and virtually everything else.
Day Trip to Florence from Livorno
Livorno is the seaport closest to Florence. If you’ve never been there plan a visit to the cradle of the renaissance. Once in this city, you can almost smell the history and culture. You can take a ship’s tour, or take the train on your own. Click here to get the daily train schedule.
The train trip to Florence takes about 1.5 hours, and if your ship leaves in the afternoon it makes for a rushed day. An overnight in Livorno will help you maximize your time in Florence, with no rushing back to the ship. You could even consider spending the night in Florence to really absorb what this city has to offer.
Florence is full of tourists in the summer, so an advance plan is important, especially when visiting the Academia or Uffizi Museums. First, on the list, we recommend making a pilgrimage to see Michaelangelo’s “David.” at the Academia (Via Ricasoli, 58, 50122 Firenze FI, Italy) There is nothing like your first glimpse of this magnificent young man, chiseled by the hands of arguably the greatest gay male artist in history. We’ve all seen the refrigerator magnets, reproductions in all sizes, and other “David” kitsch. But believe me, seeing him in person will be something you’ll never forget.
MMOB TIP: Lines are long to enter the Academia where David stands in all his glory. Be sure to get your tickets in advance and skip the lines to enter at your chosen time. We suggest visiting later in the day to escape some of the crowds. The other sculptures, heavy on Michaelangelo’s work, are amazing as well, so allow time to see it all. Especially for gay men, seeing this powerful image can easily move you to tears.
The trains run 1-2 times an hour and you’ll get there in as little as 1 hour 20 minutes for about $6-12 USD.
On one visit to Florence, we took a leisurely window-shopping stroll. Exiting the famous Ponte Vecchio over the Arno River away from the city center, we walked around the area near the bridge but a bit off the beaten track. There, I found what is still my favorite tie. It’s silk, handmade, and I loved the color and design at first sight and still get compliments. You might prefer the famous Italian leather products or some Italian high fashion.
Florence does have a gay bathhouse (called saunas in Europe) and bars. However, this is not a gay destination city. We recommend that you especially avoid the bar Crisco Club, near the Duomo. It can be a rip-off plus it’s dirty and borderline dangerous.
Day Trip to Pisa from Livorno
Getting from Livorno to Pisa is a breeze with a train ride of under 20 minutes. Once in Pisa, it’s about a half-hour walk or 10-minute taxi ride to The Piazza dei Miracoli or Square of Miracles containing the cathedral, baptistery, and tower. Everyone should see the leaning tower although be aware that the area is over-touristed, overpriced and somewhat chaotic with all the crowds. As the Italians would say, “un sacco di persone,” a sack of people!
Is Pisa worth a full day? Not for us. Although we didn’t find the city itself to be that interesting or beautiful, the Piazza dei Mariacoli with the leaning tower should be on your bucket list. The beautifully manicured lawns and stunning architecture will forever be a travel memory. And yes, have fun and take those tacky tourist photos holding up the tower.
Daytrip to Lucca from Livorno
Lucca is a city off the radar for most American tourists. However, this is a beautiful walled city, charming and quieter than Italy’s bigger cities. The walls around Lucca are wide with a setting similar to an urban park. Originally built to defend the city, instead of tearing them down when no longer needed for defense, they expanded them, planted trees and grass and created a beautiful park environment that totally encircles the city center. It’s great for walking and people watching.
Lucca is one of those cities where we recommend you throw away the tourist map and allow yourself to get lost. Pick a direction, start walking, and allow yourself to become immersed in its medieval streets. Everywhere you look is stunning architecture and activity as the locals go about their daily lives. Follow the signs to the birthplace of composer Giacomo Puccini of opera fame. In that area of town, it seems as though every business place bears his name.
Lucca is famous as “The City of 100 Churches,” and that number doesn’t appear to be far off. Do not, like Dale, attempt to enter each church and later carefully explain the architecture, sculpture, frescos, and art to each of your travel companions.
In our experience, one of the walled city’s greatest asset is its fabulous bakeries on nearly every corner. These creations seem to rival each other for sugary goodness and decadence. For the uninitiated, Italian hot chocolate (cioccolata) is a revelation! Italians say it should be thick enough to make a spoon stand up in the cup.
Getting to Lucca from Livorno will take about an hour by train and cost around $15.00 USD round trip. Trains depart on average every half-hour with a simple connection in Pisa. You can view the daily schedule by visiting Trenitalia. https://www.trenitalia.com/
Having been to Lucca three times, we guarantee this relaxing, lovely city will have a profound impact on your soul.
Have you heard about our June 2020 Pride Month Cruise with friends and allies aboard Azamara Cruises? LGBTQ sailors won’t want to miss this sailing June 4-11 from Civitavecchia (Rome) to Monte Carlo. Seven ports, three late nights, and an overnight in Livorno make this a fabulous opportunity for first-timers to Italian travel. Those who have already experienced this ancient land with its rich culture will enjoy the smaller cities we visit.