Florence (Livorno) (Photo:gillmar/Shutterstock)
4.5 / 5.0
Cruise Critic Editor Rating

By Cruise Critic Staff

Port of Florence (Livorno)

On any Western Mediterranean itinerary, Florence is an absolute highlight -- the gem of the early Italian Renaissance. In the 15th century, when great artists like Giotto, Ghiberti, Brunelleschi and Michelangelo worked there, they created magnificent examples of painting and sculpture that today still fill Florentine churches, civic buildings, grand palazzi and world-class museums like the Uffizi Gallery and the Accademia. Architecture prospered in Florence, too. The city's signature work of art is the masterful Brunelleschi-designed dome of its cathedral, Santa Maria del Fiore, known as the Duomo.

No question, Florence is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. However, for cruise travelers with just one precious day on a six-hour port of call, it's impossible to see it all.

We should note that, as lovely as Florence's famous River Arno is, it's nowhere near big enough (and its bridges are far too low) to allow any kind of ship inside the heart of the city -- and here we include low-slung river vessels along with more traditional cruise ships. As such, it can be confusing to see a cruise itinerary that calls on Florence when ships actually dock at the huge commercial port of Livorno, a good hour-plus drive from the Renaissance City.

However, the charmless city of Livorno (it was badly bombed during World War II) serves as a jumping-off point for daytrips elsewhere. And while Florence is no doubt the richest destination of all, Livorno's north Tuscan locale means that other cities -- Pisa, with its famous leaning tower; the walled city of Lucca; and San Gimignano, with 14 of its medieval towers still intact -- are also options.

About Florence (Livorno)


Pro

Livorno is the gateway port to Pisa and Florence

Con

Transportation is required for the commute: 30 minutes to Pisa, 90 minutes to Florence

Bottom Line

Leave Livorno to see the Leaning Tower, Duomo, Ponte Vecchio or Michelangelo's David


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Where You're Docked

Cruise ships dock in the commercial port in the city of Livorno.

Good to Know

Just as you would in any town heavily populated by tourists, beware of pickpocketing and petty theft, as well as Vespa-snatching thieves. Depending on the time of year, shops tend to close from 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. for lunch. Beware of traffic -- particularly motor scooters, which often are driven at high speeds and are careless of pedestrians. Before booking your cruise, make sure the ship's call at Florence is not on a Monday, when major museums and galleries are closed.

Currency & Best Way to Get Money

The currency is the euro. There are plenty of ATM machines and exchange bureaus in town.

Language

The local language is Italian, but at least basic English is spoken in most tourist spots; phrase books can come in handy.

Shopping

Leather goods -- jackets, belts, wallets, and even key fobs and wastebaskets -- are all over the city, with a particularly good selection at the "leather school," which is tucked behind the Church of Santa Croce. Prices can vary, with the highest prices in the area around the Duomo. Caution: Leather jackets purchased there might be beautiful, but stick with classic styles. What's appealing in the Mediterranean sunlight can sometimes look a little "off" back home. High-end Italian designer fashions are also available, though at high prices. But the most uniquely Florentine options are the many varieties of hand-marbled paper.


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