The city's origins are ancient, but the port was built under Cosimo I, Grand Duke of Tuscany to
ensure an outlet to the sea for the Granducato. The project of a new fortified town around the
original nucleus of the town, with a massive system of ditches and ramparts, was commissioned to
the maestro Renaissance Bernardo Buontalenti.
While the silting up of its harbor had decided the decline of the rule of Pisa, the Medici decreed
the expansion of Livorno , turning a small village in a reference point for navigation and for
international trade Livorno became a major economic center animated by merchants from any
country, who conferred it the characters of the cosmopolitan city par excellence, even during the
next domain of the Lorraine.
But what definitively marked the destiny of Livorno was his proclamation as a free port and the
enactment of the so-called "Livornine laws" between 1591 and 1593 that guaranteed a set of
privileges with which invited merchants in the new city from any country: Levantines,
Westerners , the Spaniards, the Portuguese, Greeks, Italians et Todeschi, Hebrei, Turks, Moors,
Armenians, Persians and others, with the guarantees of religious freedom, amnesty and protection
from Inquisition. While being open to all foreign merchants, was primarily directed to the Sephardic
Jews, expelled from the peninsula Iberian at the end of the previous century. Thanks to concessions
guaranteed by the Grand Duke, the Jewish community increased exponentially.
In the eighteenth century , under the dynasty of Lorraine was favored the expansion of the town
beyond the ditch district. The city is spread from the fortifications to the suburbs. In this period
took place a remarkable revival of commerce and arts in general.
Overall, the population of Livorno went from 900 inhabitants in 1592 to about 5,000 in 1609.
In 1861, Livorno had about 95,000 inhabitants, but in later years the population growth that had
characterized the previous period, ceased. The cause lies in the disastrous social state in which it
falls at the time of unification. The trade of deposit, which had made a fortune during the Grand
Duchy of Livorno, was in decline, while the industries were few and family-owned. In addition, in
1865 the measure which abolished the privileges and franchises that still existed in Livorno, Ancona
and Messina was approved by the Minister Quintino Sella and made operative since 1868. The
approval of the law provoked different reactions. It was believed that the abolition of the free port
would have caused the closure of small manufacturing industries, which until then had received
benefits from the customs procedure for the purchase of raw materials and for the export of finished
goods. Another cause of complaining was the loss of value of stores located within the city. .
An important event for the city's history was the establishment of the Naval Academy complex ,
opened November 6, 1881, that occupied the area of the old Lazaretto of St. James, then extending
to the adjacent Lazaretto of St. Leopold.
Livorno was hard hit by air raids of World War II, which, together with Reconstruction, wiped out
most of its major vestiges, giving it a modern look. The Venezia Nuova, so named for the canals and
bridges that cross it, is the only district in the center of Livorno, that even after the devastation of
World War II, has retained much of its historical and architectural jewels, such as numerous
churches and palaces, representing the true historical center of the city, although its limits not
coincide with the nucleus of the Livorno drawn by the Medici . Map of Livorno early eighteenth century : the paper, albeit with different
inaccuracies, shows the pier of Cosimo and, at the bottom, the growth of the New Venice.