Learn about the St Francis Cathedral (Duomo), a top attraction for cruise visitors to Livorno: how to get there; artworks; map; sights and restaurants nearby.
The 'Cattedrale di San Francesco d'Assisi' is located in the center of Livorno, dominating Piazza Grande, and is one of the main highlights of the city.
- Must-see artworks
- Practical Info
- How to get there
- Livono's Cathedral Map
- Other attractions nearby
- Restaurants nearby
Livorno's St. Francis Cathedral
Photo © IQCruising (2022)
Usually referred to as 'Duomo' by locals and tourists alike, Livorno's Cathedral was commissioned by the Medicis. Named after St Francis, it was designed by Bernardo Buontalenti and Alessandro Pieroni, and built during the late 16th and early 17th centuries by Cantagallina (completed in 1606).
Interior of St Francis Cathedral
Photo courtesy Diocesi Livorno
The building was completely destroyed by bombings during the Second World War (specially the bombings that took place in 1943), but was restored to its original beauty and grace in the 1950's.
Cathedral's Must-See Artworks
The interior of the cathedral contains several tombs on the floor and also on the walls. The intricate frescoes on the ceiling are particularly interesting as well.
Cappella del Santissimo Sacramento
Photo courtesy Diocesi Livorno
The most important artwork in the Cathedral is a painting by Fra Angelico. This small artwork is on the left lateral side chapel dedicated to the Eucharist - Cappella del Santissimo Sacramento, in Italian - designed by Giovanni Del Fantasia. Above the altar, 'Christ Crowned with Thorns' painted by Fra Angelico circa 1420 is one of the few artworks that is a must-see in the Cathedral and Livorno.
'Christ Crowned with Thorns' by Fra Angelico
Photo Public Domain
The painting "Christ with The Crown of Thorns" (Tempera and gold leaf on panel 55x39 cms) depicts the dramatic initial stages of Christ's walk to Calvary, which culminates with his flagellation and crucifixion, having withstood the mockery of Roman Soldiers under the orders of Pontus Pilate.
The crown of thorns and the body covered in scarlet are symbolic of Christ's status. The painting was initially attributed to the 'Giotto School'. However, more recent claims consider that the painting bears the signature of Beato Angelico.
In his essay "A Portrayal of Angelico in Livorno" (Pinacotheca 3 Nov - Dec 1928), the late Roberto Longhi initially attributed the work as being of the "Frate di Fiesole" better known as Fra Angelico in English, or Beato Angelico in Italy, ascribing a possible date between 1430 and 1435.
Therefore dating the painting to a period of earlier activity, encompassing the "Tabernacolo dei Lanaioli" - a panel by the same Beato Angelico, dated 1433. "Christ with The Crown of Thorns" was donated to the parish of Santa Maria del Soccorso (Piazza della Vitoria) in the Diocese of Livorno, by Silvestro Silvestri in 1837, two years after the construction of the church had commenced.
The painting was consecutively taken to Florence, where its presentation was honorably bestowed upon Mario Salmi; who declared the work authentic in a show celebrating the life of Beato Angelico at the Museo San Marco, in 1955.
The painting was equally well received in an exhibition in Cologne, in 2005, followed by its inclusion in an exhibition of the Life of Christ at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (NY), where it remained on show from October 2005 to January 2006, in a retrospective of Beato Angelico.
Besides this significant artwork, you shouldn't also miss the "Triumph of Saint Giulia" by Jacopo Ligozzi, the "Assumption of the Virgin" by Domenico Cresti da Passignano and "Saint Francis of Assisi" by Jacopo Chimenti. Outside the cathedral there is a front porch with rounded arches. The six bells of the current cathedral were remade from five of the original bells, which were damaged during the war (one was never found).
Where: Historical Centre
Address: Piazza Grande
Opening hours: Visitors - Everyday from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm and from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm
Masses: Sundays and Holidays at 10.30 am
Architects: Alessandro Pieroni and Antonio Cantagallina
Religious Rite: Roman Catholic
Visiting Time: Around 20 minutes
How far from Shuttle: 4 Minute Walk
Must See: Fra Angelico's 'Christ Crowned with Thorns'
How to Get to the Duomo (Cathedral) from the Cruise Port
The Duomo (Cathedral) is the main building on Piazza Grande, which is no more than 100 meters from Piazza Municipio, where the shuttle bus from the Porto Industriale stops.
If your cruise ship docks at the Porto Mediceo, the Piazza is in the middle of Via Grande - the main street that connects the old port to Piazza Repubblica - and is within walking distance from this docking spot (less than 1/2 mile or 700 meters).
Piazza Grande used to be a transportation hub in Livorno. But this has changed for some time. Public bus stops are now on Via Grande, and the taxi stands are on Piazza Municipio. There is only one newsstand remaining on the Piazza Grande. Here, you can buy bus tickets if planning to explore farther than the city center - be it the south coast or to the railway station when traveling on your own to Florence, Pisa, or Lucca.
Duomo (Cathedral) - Map
Attractions and Highlights Near the Duomo (Cathedral)
Behind the Duomo, on a small street on the north side, the cruise traveler will find the small 'Church of St. Giulia' (a on map) worth visiting, although it only opens in the morning.
The New Synagogue (b on map) is impossible to miss on Piazza (Square) Elijah Benamozegh.
Via Madonna is relatively close by. The Mercato Cantrale and the Fosso Reale are both within walking distance as well.
Restaurants and Flavors
Also behind the Duomo, on the south side the 'Caffe Duomo' (1 on map) is a nice place to have a quick bite, a cappuccino and to check emails as it offers Free Wi-Fi.
Around the corner from this well known coffee shop you will find 'La Vecchia Senese' (2 on map), a restaurant favored by locals and offering special prices to cruise ship passengers.