Frankly, we had low expectations for Livorno which has a reputation as an industrial port where cruise ships disgorge thousands of tourists who simply transfer to buses to visit nearby Pisa and Florence. But our friends Vincenzo and Francesco (you remember them from Sicily, right?) had strongly recommended we tour the old city by dinghy and likened it to Venice ...without the gondola's. So ever game Pat and Keith of Frances Louise and we boarded Sangaris' "Private Gondola" (aka dinghy) and set off on a surprisingly cool tour. We wound our way through the "Quartiere Storico della Venezia, past waterfront homes and businesses. Livorno is Venice-like, yet different in that the canals are all lined with private boats and it is more of a real, working city, than a tourist destination.
Here's the Fortezza Vecchia (the Old Fort) on the edge of town as you enter the canal system that winds its way to the "New Fort" on its man-made island in the center of town, with impressive statuary along the way. The arch in the bottom left is a ½ mile long canal-tunnel that runs below the Piazza della Repubblica.
At top right is the same arch, looking back from our "gondola" inside the tunnel, and along the way are the overhead fancy wrought-iron ventilation grates. Finally, back at our dock, Katherine gives a big "thumbs up" with the ormeggiatori Stefano. Katherine had called ahead a few days earlier to arrange our dockage, as Livorno, being the big-ship port it is, is not quite like pulling into a marina. Stefano and his partner Marco were amazing. From actually calling us two or three times to check on our arrival progress, to escorting us through the harbor after clearing our entry with the Port Authorities, to scooting around in their tender to handle the laid mooring lines plus a myriad of other accommodations from free bikes to recommendations on where go in town. Great guys!
Cruiser's note: Livorno's Molo Mediceo [marina] operated by "Lusben" can be reached on channel 74 and provides excellent service. We were stern-to for two nights @ 42.70 Euros/ night. Free bikes, picnic tables with sun umbrellas and even a barbeque loaded with charcoal. Rubbish and heads convenient.
Our next stop is Porto Venere, where we'll not only explore the Cinque Terre, but also start staging Sangaris for Genoa and loading her aboard the transport ship Stadiongracht for a trip back across the Atlantic. Yep, you read it right! After some 10 years in the Med, we're heading for America! Stay tuned.