St. Catherine's Church - Livorno Highlight

Chiesa di Santa Catarina
(St. Catherine's Church)

Photo of St. Catherine's Church in Livorno

St. Catherine's Church

Photo by R. Rosado © Independent Quest LLC

The shape of the dome of St. Catherine's is stricking when seen from a distance but when the cruise ship passenger gest closer the unfinished facade and uncomplete aspect deters many to look inside. However it is in the interior of the church that the visitor will find its stricking beauty and the reason why we have it as one of the top highlights of Livorno. The church is located in the Piazza dei Domenicani, in the heart of the "Venezia" quarter, and has a unique structure. The dome - 63 metres (207 ft) high - is shaped like an octagon, with eight arches and eight pillars. The church was built in the first half of the 18th century by the architect Giovanni Del Fantasia (inaugurated in 1755). It was conceived with the intention of replacing a smaller church of the Dominican convent and for a period of its history it was even used as a prison.

The interior of the church is adorned with numerous works of art - the walls were painted by Antonio and Jacopo Terreni - among other, the paintings by Passignano and Lorenzo Grattanelli and specially the "Coronation of the Madonna" by Giorgio Vasari in the altar chapel are must see artworks. According to legend, the first American saint - Saint Elizabeth Anna Seton - converted to Catholicism when visiting this church.

Getting There

In the heart of the Venice Quarter, the easiest way to get there is to follow Via Borra, which is the main and most famous street of this old part of the city. At end of this historical street a small bridge crosses one of the canals of the Fosso Reale, leading straight into 'Piazza dei Domenicani' where St. Catherine's Church stands. Alternatively the walk trough Via della Madonna offers views of the Fortezza Nuova (New Fort) and of the monument to St. John of Nepomuk (d on map). There isn't much to see farther East of the church. But the area south of the St. Catherine's is interesting to explore as you will find other attractions of the Quarteri Venezzia.

St. Catherine's - Map

Map of St. Catherine's Church in Livorno with nearby attractions


On the way to the Church of St. Catherine's - or on the return -, the cruise passenger should walk through Via Borra (a on map) with three palaces that are the main attractions of this major street of the Venice Quarter - a highlight in itself. North of St. Catherine's you will find another unfinished Church - 'San Ferdinando Re' (b on map) which is famous for the scultuptures by Giovanni Baratta in its interior. The 'Bottini del'olio' is an old and delapidated wharehouse (c on map).

Restaurants and Flavors

In the Piazza dei Domenicani, the 'Enoteca Forte San Pietro' (1 on map) is a great place for a light lunch - be it traditional cold cuts or more creative flavours with an excellent wine list. For a more traditional meal, the hidden simplicty of 'L'Antica Venezia' (2 on map) is the place for the cruise ship passenger to enjoy a typical Livornese lunch in a simple no frills décor. The 'Ristorante Il Forte' (3 on map - on Via del Forte San Pietro, 32) and a bit off track the 'Ristorante L'Ancora' (4 on map - Scali delle Ancore, 10) are two other restaurants to have in mind for a nice lunch.

WHERE: Venezia - Historical Centre
Piazza dei Domenicani
Open: Visitors: 9:00am to 12.30pm and from 4:00pm to 7:00pm
Mass: Weekdays (except Friday) and Saturdays: 6:00pm; Sundays and Holidays: 11:00am; Fridays 10.30am.
Architect: Giovanni del Fantasia
Entrance: FREE

NOTES: In the heart of Venezia Nuova (Venice Quarter) this is, togheter with the palaces of Via Borra, a must see in the area.

Look For

The Dome

Photo of the cupola of St. Catherine's Church in Livorno

Credit: Lucarelli - Creative Commons

The Cupola is a masterwork of architectural and pictorial excelence by Cesare Maffei.

The Altar

Photo of Vasari's Painting at the altar of St. Catherine's Church in Livorno

Credit: Lucarelli - Creative Commons

"Coronation of the Madonna" by Giorgio Vasari in the altar chapel is a Must See.

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Last Update: January 20, 2016

The information on this page was accurate when last updated and published but changes may have occurred without notice.
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