The port of Livorno is often seen as just a gateway to a photo with the famed leaning tower of Pisa, but our Italy fanatics say it’s a shame to miss out on all the other excursions offered in the area.
If your next Norwegian Cruise includes a stop in Italy, here are some of the Livorno recommendations from our experts to expand your horizons and make you look like the travel savant with your friends.
Florence is like a Tuscan jewel with its beautiful domed cathedrals, colorful inner city, and wide piazzas perfect for play and framing the icons of Florentine beauty. Be sure to see Michelangelo’s David, the most famous of sculptures here in the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance.
History: The historic center, with its gorgeous cathedrals, is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. See the sights while walking the city and test your will when confronted with miniature mountains of creamy gelato.
Florence frames beauty at every turn. Stroll along the streets to admire the city’s stunning architecture, past buildings that date back to even before the time when Florence was the capital of the Kingdom of Italy. The jewel of Tuscany will impress and astound you.
Cathedral: Officially known as the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore, the church is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and also the iconic center of Florence.
It’s also a must-see when visiting this beautiful city. The name of the cathedral translates to the Basilica of Saint Mary of the Flower. Sounds beautiful, and it certainly is. The structure was completed in 1496, when it was crowned by its magnificent dome.
Catacombs: Underneath the Florence Cathedral, you’ll see a grand mosaic that paved the floor of a basilica that predated the Florence Cathedral. The crypt of Santa Reparata features fascinating artifacts that provide tangible evidence of early Christianity in Florence.
Among the crypt’s most significant features is a peacock symbolizing immortality, which amazingly survived centuries completely intact
The jewel of Tuscany will impress and astound you.
Lucca is a charming medieval town that’s enclosed by massive brick walls that are among the best preserved defense structures of Renaissance Europe. The walls seem to isolate Lucca from the hectic pace of the modern world and they give Lucca its special character.
Inside the walls, you’ll find a city of monuments and medieval houses, such as those at the Piazza Mercato, situated on the site of an ancient Roman theater. Houses were built against the walls of the theater, and the piazza’s distinct oval shape reflects the theater’s outline.
Enjoy walking Lucca’s medieval streets and admiring its interesting architecture some of which soared to great heights. Take time to stroll along Via Fililungo, Lucca’s version of the Via Veneto in Rome and a great way to end your time in this charming Italian city.
Siena’s age-old buildings mix with open-air cafes and narrow winding streets. The ancient city sits on a hill and its entire historic center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Some of Siena’s well-preserved medieval buildings were homes for the city’s aristocratic families.
The shell-shaped Piazza del Campo, home to Siena’s famous medieval horse race, Il Palio, features original 13th century palaces and a 300-foot-tall bell tower. If climbing the tower isn’t your thing, head to the Piazza del Duomo. Situated on Siena’s highest hilltop, the Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Assumption is built in stunning black and white marble.
Siena is best seen on foot so prepare to do a lot of walking in order to fully absorb the wonderful character of this ancient hilltop city.
San Gimignano is another walled medieval Tuscan town with a few notable differences from Siena – well make that about a dozen notable differences.
San Gimignano is famous for its unique tower houses, around a dozen of them that pierce the skyline. The towers were built by families so that they could live out of harm’s way as wars and conflicts raged down below. There were 72 of these towers by the end of the medieval period, with some rising more than 20 stories. The towers and the historic city center make up a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Be sure to visit the piazza della cisterna, where you will find a well that was the main source of water for the town’s residents. You can climb to the top of the town’s highest towers, or you can do as I did, make your way to the top of the town walls for beautiful views overlooking Tuscany.
These are just a few of the many excursions available, but a great way to see that there is so much more to this stop than the beautiful Leaning Tower!