St Catherine's Church (Chiesa di Santa Catarina),
a Must See for Cruise Travelers to Livorno
- Review, Basic Information, Location, Getting There, Map, Attractions, Highlights and Restaurants Nearby.
The shape of the dome of St Catherine's is striking when seen from a distance but, when the cruise traveler gets closer, the unfinished facade and incomplete aspect may deters many to look inside. Like a book, don't judge the church by its cover.
St Catherine's Church in Livorno
Photo © IQCruising.com
In fact, it is in the interior of the church that the visitor will find its striking 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 meters (207 ft) high - is shaped like an octagon, with eight arches and eight pillars.
Vasari's Painting - the Altar of St Catherine's Church
Photo by Lucarelli CC by-SA
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 artworks, 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.
In the heart of Venezia Nuova (Venice Quarter) this is, together with the palaces of Via Borra, a must see in the area. The Cupola is a masterwork of architectural and pictorial excellence by Cesare Maffei.
Cupola of St Catherine's Church in Livorno
Photo by Lucarelli CC by-SA
|Address:||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|
St Catherine's Church Location, Getting There and Map
In the heart of the Venice Quarter, the easiest way to get the St Catherine's Church from the Piazza Municipio (where the cruise port shuttle stops) 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
Attractions and Highlights Nearby
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 sculptures by Giovanni Baratta in its interior. The 'Bottini dell'Olio' (c on map) is an old warehouse, which as been recently renovated (April, 2018) and now houses the new City Museum, integrating as well the old Church of Luogo Pio.
Restaurants Close to St Catherine's Church
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 flavors 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.