Thanks to the Livornine Laws, Livorno in the 17th century became famous as the “City of the Nations.” One street in particular remains to this day, with its unusual churches, a living testimony of the cosmopolitan city born of the visionary courage of the Medici family.
Via della Madonna, in which just a few meters apart lie three 18th century church, is a symbol in spirit and in stone of the conviviality between Livorno’s minority communities protected by the Grand duke’s extension of religious tolerance in the port city. The Armenian community’s church was dedicated to Saint Gregory the “Illuminatore” in 1716 and features a striking marble baroque façade, and which recalls the wealthy, powerful merchants, sumptuously dressed and turbaned, who together with the Jewish Community connected Tuscany to the commerce of the East. The next is the 17th century church of the Madonna, maintained by the Minor Franciscans, who (which?) in essence constituted a direct link between Tuscany and the Holy Land.
Inside one may admire the marble altars erected by the foreign Catholic communities of Livorno, including the French, Portuguese, Corsican and Dutch-German. The altars feature magnificent paintings of the communities’ respective patron saints, produced by some of the most important artists of the time, including Giovanni Bilivert, Matteo Rosselli, and Francesco Curradi. In addition to various members of the foreign nations, the famous Flemish sculptor François Duquesnoy is buried in the church.
The final stop on the tour is the Greek Uniate (Eastern Catholic or Byzantine) church, whose community populated Livorno from the early 1500s. The interior features splendid examples of Greek icons, including a remarkable 17th century piece, of the Eastern Church tradition. The tour consists of a voyage somewhere between art and history which explores the lives and traditions of these communities which were so important to realizing the commercial ventures of the Medici family.
Length: 1 hour 15 minutes, approximately*
Cost: 120 €
The churches are ordinarily open mornings until noon. Contact us should you have other time restraints.
* Indicates the duration of a standard tour, which can be shortened or lengthened according to your wishes and compatibility with the type of excursion.