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Exploring Livorno: The Four Moors Monument

The Four Moors Monument, also known as the Four Moors Livorno’s Cathedral, is a renowned landmark in Livorno, Italy that pays tribute to Ferdinando I. While Francesco de ‘Medici’ was responsible for commissioning the city’s urban plan, it was Ferdinando I who truly shaped Livorno’s development and is considered its founder.

Overview

To commemorate Ferdinando I’s achievements and victories against Mediterranean pirates in the late 16th century, a monument was erected in his honor. The statue of Ferdinando I, sculpted by Giovanni Bandini between 1595 and 1601 in the Carrara quarries, was initially placed at the edge of the dock’s square. However, in 1617, Cosimo II de ‘Medici, Ferdinand’s successor, ordered the statue to be raised on a pedestal.

Pietro Tacca was later tasked with completing the monument, adding four bronze moors in chains, while his pupil, Taddeo di Michele, worked on the pedestal. The four bronze moors were finally completed in 1626.

A Symbol of Controversy

Pietro Tacca originally planned to include two bronze fountains with sea monsters as part of the monument’s design. However, these additions never made it to Livorno and were instead placed in the Piazza Santissima Annunziata in Florence, where Tacca’s famous Porcelino also stands. Two replica fountains were later created and placed at the beginning of Via Grande, where they still stand today.

During the French invasion of Livorno in 1799, the monument faced the threat of destruction as the French armies and commanders saw it as a symbol of oppression and tyranny. Even to this day, some view the monument as a negative symbol and associate it with the struggle for justice, freedom, and equality.

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Interestingly, the statue of Ferdinando I showcases him in the uniform of the ‘Order of the Knights of St. Stephen,’ a military institution founded by Cosimo I de ‘Medici to combat piracy in the Mediterranean and the Ottoman Empire. Some argue that the monument should be seen as a celebration of the fight against piracy and Turkish aggression.

Symbolism and Representation

Although referred to as “moors,” the four figures depicted in chains actually represent different ethnic groups at four different stages of a man’s life. Despite their differences, they all share expressions of pain fused with psychological resignation, evident in the contorted twisting of their bodies. It is said that the prisoners who posed for the portrayal of the moors were subsequently set free as compensation for their time.

Practical Info

To conveniently reach the Four Moors Monument, visitors can take the LAM BLU or LB bus (formerly Bus Nº 1), which stops at the end of Via Grande. The bus offers transportation eastward to the Railway Station (R on the map) and westward to the South Coast (S on the map).

How to Get There and Map

The Four Moors monument is situated in Piazza del Pamiglione, near the western end of Via Grande. If your cruise ship is docked in Porto Industriale, you can walk from the Shuttle Bus Stop by Piazza Municipio to the end of Via Grande to marvel at the monument. Alternatively, if your ship docks in Porto Mediceo, the monument is unmissable, as it is located just across the connecting bridge to the city.

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Attractions and Highlights nearby

In addition to the charming shops along Via Grande (marked as A on the map), visitors can admire the copies of the two bronze fountains with sea monsters that Tacca had originally intended to include near the Four Moors Monument.

The bridge connecting Porto Mediceo (marked as I on the map) offers stunning views of the port and the Fortezza Vecchia (Old Fort) (marked as B on the map). Another must-see attraction is the view of the old defensive structure of the city, the Fosso Reale (marked as II on the map).

Within walking distance, you’ll also find Livorno’s cathedral (marked as A on the map) and the Synagogue (marked as B on the map), both significant highlights of the city.

Nearby Restaurants

If you’re looking for a quick bite, a cup of cappuccino, or a taste of traditional Livornese cuisine, you’ll find several options near the Four Moors Monument. Here are a few recommendations:

  • Enoteca Il Vinanino (1 on the map): This place offers a delightful selection of Italian wines by the glass and serves typical Tuscan cuisine for lunch. Enjoy your meal with the convenience of free Wi-Fi.

  • Caffè Il Punto (2 on the map): Whether you’re in the mood for pastries, sandwiches, or a satisfying breakfast, Caffè Il Punto is the perfect spot. Sit back, relax, and connect to their free Wi-Fi while savoring your choice.

  • Aragosta (3 on the map): Although Aragosta gained popularity after being featured in a BBC documentary, it is still an excellent option for fresh fish, seafood, and traditional Cacciucco. Expect to spend around €30.00 per person.

  • Le Volte (4 on the map): A favorite among local business people, Le Volte offers a diverse selection of fresh fish and crustaceans in a lovely ambiance.

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When visiting Livorno, don’t miss the chance to explore the history, symbolism, and nearby attractions that make the Four Moors Monument a significant landmark in the city. Enjoy the rich cultural experience and indulge in the local culinary delights.

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