Home > 2011 Posts > The Forgotten Port

The Forgotten Port

December 10, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

Dave the WriterLivorno was the port town of Pisa for hundreds of years. Few travelers give the place a thought. After all, it’s just another European industrial town, right?

That’s true for the most part. But, there were two things that made my bride and I curious enough to spend a day wandering through the oldest part of town: that Medieval and Renaissance connection with Pisa—and later Florence—plus its characteristically Italian ‘Dark Pink’ politics that I wrote about in an earlier post or two. Our time on a pleasant autumn day was well-spent.

One of the impressions we got was just how dangerous it was ‘back in the day’ for Italian towns even this far north. This photo, taken over masts of the pleasure boats crowding every sheltered part of the old harbor, shows an almost-derelict stone fortress built to repel powerful attack.

Another impression was of buildings meant for working folks rather than jaded aristocrats. The interesting octagonal Church of Saint Catherine of Siena (there are many by the same name all over Italy) is a case in point. Begun in 1720 but never finished, it looks from the outside like a relic dating back to Norman times, with a hundred generations of pigeons nesting one after the other in its bricks. Even so, parishioners too poor to finish the Baroque design have loyally attended Mass there for 250 years. Its rough exterior makes the recently restored interior a bit of a shock, though a pleasant one.

It may be possible to travel in Italy and not come across interesting political graffiti, but in many years and dozens of towns we have yet to miss ‘words of the prophets’ scrawled somewhere. Given the likely impending collapse of the euro and current financial turmoil in Italy as the effects of foolish government policies come home to roost, the word below seems to be an even more profound observation than usual.        

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