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Leghorn (Livorno)



Suffragan of Pisa. Leghorn (Italian Livorno), in Tuscany, is the capital of the smallest of the provinces of Italy. The city is situated on marshy ground, and is in consequence intersected by many canals, hence it has been called "Little Venice". A larger canal puts it in communication with Pisa. It has two ports, the old, or Medici, port, and the new port constructed in 1854. In former times Leghorn was the most important port in the Grand Duchy of Tuscany; even now it is outranked only by Genoa and Naples.

Among its numerous teaching establishments are a naval academy, and an observatory erected in 1881. The public library is important, and the prehistoric museum contains many Etruscan and Roman antiquities. The town likewise possesses a gallery of paintings, and its archives have an historical interest. Among the more important industries are shipbuilding, ironworks, and trade in alabaster and coral. The cathedral dates from the sixteenth century; there are also churches belonging to the Greek, the Maronite, and the Armenian Rites. The Synagogue (1603) is second only to that at Amsterdam. The royal palace was erected by Cosimo I. Of note also are the Torre del Marzocco, now used as a signal station, and the Torre della Meloria, near which, in 1241, the Pisans surprised and defeated the Genoese fleet on its way to Rome with the French bishops who were going to the council summoned against Frederick II.

Among the ancients Leghorn was known as Portus Liburni, and was of small importance until the sixteenth century. It belonged to the Pisans, and was captured from them by the Genoese. In 1421 the Florentines bought it for 100,000 florins, and thus Leghorn came to be the main outlet for Florentine commerce, to the detriment of Pisa, which from that time began to wane. The Medici family took great interest in the prosperity of this stronghold; Alessandro de' Medici built the old fortress; Cosmo I, under the supervision of Vasari, built a breakwater and a new canal. But the real author of its greatness was Ferdinand I, who called Leghorn "his mistress". To increase its population he showered his favours on it and on those who went to live there, and made it a town of refuge for men from every nation, so that there flocked to it not only outlaws from all over Italy, but even Greeks, Jews, and Moors driven out of Spain. Exiled English Catholics found a home there. Cosmo II erected a monument to Ferdinand, the work of Giovanni dell' Opera. Owing to the bombardment (by the English in 1651, and by the French in 1671) of the Dutch fleet stationed in the harbour, Ferdinand II caused Leghorn to be declared a neutral port by international treaty (1691). This neutrality was violated for the first time in 1796 by Bonaparte, whose idea of a "Continental blockade" did immense damage to the commerce of the town. In 1848 Leghorn was the hotbed of the Tuscan revolution.

The episcopal see was created by Pius VII in 1806. Its first bishop was Filippo Canucci. The diocese has 32 parishes with 170,000 souls. The number of religious houses for men is 9, and for women, 12. It has 3 educational institutions for boys, and 7 for girls.

REPETTI, Dizionario Geografico ecc. della Toscana (Florence, 1835); TARGIONI-TOZZETTI AND BORSI, Liburni civitas (Leghorn, 1906).


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