October 14, 2013
Locarno is cruise port in the midst of a large commercial port that serves the needs of Tuscany. Container ships and ferries constantly circulate the goods. The cruise port also serves as the tourist distribution point. Visitors to Tuscany use the port to access Florence, Pisa and Lucca. Locarno itself is a tourist pass through point. Most visitors do not spend more than a few moments in Livorno. I believe they miss the real Italy.
We arrived in Livorno in a light rain that soon turned vigorous. Most of our traveling shipmates boarded buses headed inland. We sauntered into the rain. Miss our trusty parkas but the umbrellas and rain clothes are sufficient. You leave the port passing the early Renaissance old fort with its incongruous 20th Century top perched atop the battlements. The port became important to nearby Florence as the access to Pisa silted up. The Medici family saw that Livorno became strongly fortified probably to keep the Genoese and Aragonese at bay.
Livorno became a Florentine satrapy but had its own duke one of who is in statue form holding the chains of four Moors at the head of the harbor. We proceeded up the Via Grande to the center of town. There were some somewhat disturbing statues of flying monkey devils on the either side of the street. They must of been the inspiration for the Wizard of Oz monkeys. The street is lined with nice clothing shops without a postcard or trinket in sight. About the only sign of tourism were the African umbrellas vendors who left alone those of us carrying gear.
We had ample opportunity to observe Italians in their native habitat. Can’t help but notice that every other store seemed to sell striking women’s underwear. Did manage to recognize a number of international labels. Did not see my brand Kirkland. Finally found the outdoor clothing stands. D Some two hundred street vendors braved the rainy conditions in their tin stalls to sell clothing and shoes for bargain prices. Despite the rain, they were in business.
Briefly visited the rebuilt cathedral. It was destroyed during WWII. I assume the Allies did the damage because the Germans were not mentioned. Everyone points out Nazi destruction. The nearby port must have been of strategic importance. The cathedral was restored by so so as cathedrals go.
We reached the large piazza at the end of the shopping street and quickly viewed the newer fortress that is surrounded by canals. The rain was getting to us so we returned to the ship. We did stop at a pharmacy and picked up a remedy for cruise ship bowels. We just got in line behind the other customers, described the symptoms and got our prescription. No fuss or bother.
After lunch the rain stopped and we returned to the city. We wandered through the canals designed by Venetians in the 16th Century. The canals provided ready access from the
Let to the warehouses located under the houses of the merchants that were clustered around the fortifications. Merchant barges have been replaced by pleasure craft and small fishing boats. The sailors and fishermen still languor around the pubs.
We made it to the covered market that was closed. The produce and fish were gone and the staff was sweeping up in his grand structure. Since it was siesta nothing much else was open except for cafés and tabac stores. We were left to just enjoy the pretty empty afternoon streets. It was fun to see Italians talking on cell phones while expressing themselves with the free hand. Who says that technology overcomes custom?
All in all it was a restful day. We enjoyed the commentary at dinner from the folks who ventured inland on the tours. Not surprisingly they said they were rushed. The Korean couple, who we had eaten with the night before, did manage to go up the Leaning Tower in Pisa. That was brave in the rain on slippery marble.