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.