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Friday, October 12, 2007

Florence - Day 16

I'm off to explore another part of Tuscany, the port city of Livorno. Due to its strategic position it was basically bombed into submission during the war meaning that you won't find that many old buildings there but I have read that it has excellent market and that is a good enough reason for me to visit.

Livorno does get a lot of cruise ship tourists but they all seem to zoom through the city to the train station and head off for greener fields of nearby Pisa and Florence.

From Florence, Livorno is less than 90 minutes away and the station is quite a lovely old building. Unfortunately it is located out of town so you'll need to get yourself a bus ticket and cram yourself onto Bus 1 to get you into town. My bus was so full I couldn't reach the lone ticket validator on board and spent my time feeling absolutely guilty and thinking that for sure, the ticket inspectors are going to nab me.

Fortunately they didn't and I hoped off at Piazza della Repubblica.

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There's one thing you'll notice is the madness of the traffic - if it's not the cars it's the motorcyles and it's a variable race track around this piazza.

The Piazza della Repubblica was built between 1844-48 and has two large statues on each end, one of Ferdinand III and the other of Leopold II.

Following the map I had gotten at the station I managed to stumble upon Piazza XX Settembre and the Mercatino Americano (American Market).

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I say stumble as many of the roads weren't listed on the map and like car mirrors, places appear closer than they really are.

The American Market dates from 1944 and the arrival of American troops into Livorno - it's a bit ramshackled, a maze of stalls portioned under the metal roof, selling all sorts of goods - it's a bazaar of sorts.

From here it should have been a quick trip to the market but my map kept leading me astray, my frustration growing as I went round in circles. I did eventually, after having traveller far more than I should, come upon the Fosso Reale and the Market.

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The Fosso Reale is one of the canals you'll find in Livorno

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and that big yellow building is unmistakably the Market

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though that scaffolding wasn't a good sign.

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It is indeed a beautiful building but with more than half of the ceiling hidden by scaffolding you can't really appreciate it.

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I do admire the skills of the people that put up that scaffolding - it still allows the shops to trade underneath the work.

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You do get hits of just how lovely it will be once it's finished.

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After this large central section of the market you'll find the delis, poultry and meat stalls, bakeries, pasta makers and dry goods. As much as I love Florence Market, I'd say this is actually better.

On one of the wings is the large fish market, which should be expected as Livorno is the fishing port.

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While taking this picture of this sign I'm introduced by one of the stallholders to the man pictured here. A most affiable man, we have a bit of a chat and as he asked, I took his photo too.

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He's been working at the fish market the longest and doesn't look it but he is 73!

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On the opposite wing you'll find a majority of fruit and vegetable stalls.

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Outside the market there's another huge bric-a-brac type open air market selling just about anything including toilet paper!

After more frustrating map work I did make it to the Piazza Grande where the main Duomo is located

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This was totally destroyed in 1943 and subsequently rebuilt.

From here my plans had been to explore the area known as Venezia Nuova (New Venice) but after having walked endlessly and gotten nowhere, I actually just gave up and took the bus back to the station. Yes, the frustration won out.

The market is something I'd revisit again when it's finished but I would highly recommend getting a decent map or you'll end up going nowhere fast. The crazy traffic means crossing roads is quite a risky sport so you need to keep alert, there's not a lot of traffic lights and cars don't stop for crossings either.

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