Venice Quarter - Livorno Highlight

Quartieri Venezia
Venice Quarter

Photo of Fosso Real by Venice Quarter in Livorno

Fosso Real by Venice Quarter

Photo © IQCruising

Refered to as 'Venezia Nuova' or 'Quartieri Venezia' in Italian - New Venice or Venice Quarter in English - this is the only part of the historical centre that after the devastation of the Second World War has kept the ambience of its past. Interestingly the area was not part of the original urban plan designed by Bernardo Buontalenti, who conceived Livorno as an ideal city of pentagonal shape surrounded by a moat (the Fosso Reale). In fact, it was only after the invitation made by Ferdinando I (Medici) to merchants from all over Europe to move to Livorno - offering special privileges and incentives - that a population boom led to the development of this area, until then out of the fortified city.

Covered by water channels and defensive moats, the area between the recently built Fortezza Nuova (New Fort) and the Fortezza Vecchia (Old Fort) would become an extension of the new city. This time, the urban plan was designed by architect Giovanni Battista Santi who conceived a mixed mercantile and residential neighbourhood with easy access to the port. Due to the many water canals and the need to lay foundations very similar and inspired by the building of Venice, the area become know as 'New Venice'.

For the next couple of centuries this island amidst the city became the economic center of Livorno, as wealthy merchants made their homes here. To this day, this section of the city has managed to retain its old-world charm and it is a delight to visit. This is the location where Effetto Venezia is held each summer (between ). Amongst the many historical landmarks the following are some of the most interesting highlights.

Via Borra

Via Borra (a on map) is the main street in the Venice Quarter. It was along this street that the wealthiest merchants lived and it was also the location of many consulates in the first half of the 19th century, including that of Britain, Bremen, Prussia, Saxony, Antwerp, and Hanover. The street was named after Livorno's governor Marquis Alessandro Dal Borro. One of the most memorable features of the street is the Ponte di Marmo, a bridge made with marble parapets, on which still can be read inscriptions left by 18th-century boatmen.

Palazzo delle Colonne di Marmo

This building is known as the Palace of Marble Columns, due to the presence of a marble column on each side of the entrance, and it is a true thing of beauty for the eye to behold. Now annexed to the 'Monte di Pieta', it was built by a merchant from Lucca in the early 18th century.

Palazzo Huigens

This building was the result of the expansion of the Venice Quarter and was built in the early 18th century, next to the Palace of Marble Columns. It was built to serve as a residence and later a second floor was added. Among those who have stayed here the Grand Duke Cosimo III de Medici and the Danish King, Frederick IV are of the noblest.

Palazzo del Monte di Pieta

Built in the early part of the 18th century, this building was originally part of the northern rampart of the old city. Later, the Venice Quarter was built as was Fort San Pietro, and the building was reduced in size to make room for the construction of new buildings. Now owned by the Savings Bank of Livorno, the building still exhibits beautiful architecture.

Church of San Ferdinando

Construction of the church (b on map) was started in 1707 on the west end of 'Venezia Nuova' and it was created in a Baroque style that has made it one of the loveliest churches in Livorno. The church managed to survive the bombing of World War II. The exterior is rather unadorned, but the interior of the church steals the show with the sculptures by Giovanni Baratta and wonderful side chapels.

Bottini del'olio

This was once a warehouse built at the end of the 17th century and the beginning of the 18th century for the purpose of storing oil (c on map). Today, the building's upper floor is a residence and houses part of a library, while the main floor houses exhibitions of various sorts.

St. John of Nepomuk Monument

This monument (d on map)was built in honour of the visit to Livorno of Francis I of the Holy Roman Empire and Maria Theresa of Austria. They visited on March 6, 1739, and the monument was erected on a bridge that leads the way into New Venice.

Church of St. Catherine

An highlight in itself, the unfinished facade and uncomplete aspect of this majestic church should not deter the cruise passenger to visit its interior. - Explore St. Catherine's Church.

Getting There

For the cruise passenger taking the shuttle to Piazza Municipio, the easiest way to start an exploration of the Venice Quarter is to walk to Via Borra, which is the main street of this old part of the city. 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 where you will find other attractions of the Quarteri Venezia. If docked at the Porto Industriale in the closest piers to the city, the cruise passenger may attempt to walk to the Venice Quarter - just make sure to use the exit next to the Mercantino Americano.

Venice Quarter - Map

Map of Venice Quarter in Livorno with nearby attractions


On the east side of the Venice Quarter, the massive Fortezza Nuova (New Fort) is impossible to miss. Although a public park, it isn't particularly well kept and is far from being as inviting as it could be. On the western border, the Fortezza Vecchia (Old Fort) has a difficult access and doesn't have regular opening hours. Inside the Porto Industriale, the once famous Mercatino Americano is now a shadow of what once was when located in the historical centre. For those interested in Marxist history, the ruins of the Teatro San Marco - severely bombed during the Second World War - is the site where the Italian Communist Party was founded - just north of St. Catherine's Church.

Restaurants and Flavors

In the Piazza dei Domenicani, the 'Enoteca Forte San Pietro' (1 on map) is ideal 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 simplicity 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: Historical Centre
When: 17th Century
Architect: Giovanni Battista Santi
Highlights: Church of St. Catherine, Church of San Ferdinando, Via Borra, Palazzo delle Colonne di Marmo, Palazzo Huigens, Palazzo del Monte di Pieta, St. John of Nepomuk Monument, Bottini del'olio - Fortezza Nuova and Fortezza Vecchia.
Flavours: Enoteca Forte San Pietro, L'Antica Venezia, Ristorante Il Forte, Ristorante L'Ancora.

NOTES: 'Effecto Venezia' is a 10-day Summer Festival with events, shows and concerts targetting mainly young adults.

Look For

St. Catherine's Church

Photo of Piazza Dominicanni in Livorno

Photo: R. Rosado © Independent Quest LLC

Altough completely destroyed during WWII the artworks were saved and the reconstruction is an immaculate one.

Via Borra

Photo of Via Borra in Livorno

Photo: R. Rosado © Independent Quest LLC

The main street of the Venice Quarter is also one of its main gateways, leadind directly to the Piazza Dominicanni.

Palazzo delle Colone di Marmo

Photo of Palazzo delle Colone di Marmo in Livorno

Photo: R. Rosado © IQCruising

One of the three main places in Via Borra, the entrance of this palace gave it the name for which is known.

Canals and Bridges

Photo of Canals and Bridges of the Venice Quarter in Livorno

Photo: R. Rosado © IQCruising

On the homonymous bridge on Via della Madonna, one of the main gateways to the Venice Quarter.

St. John of Nepomuk

Photo of Monument to St. John of Nepomuk in Livorno

Photo: R. Rosado © IQCruising

The monument on the homonymous bridge on Via della Madonna, one of the main gateways to the Venice Quarter.

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Last Update: January 21, 2016

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