Tuscan port keeps the red flag flying as team sinks

Teams, tales and tips – a guide to the local game

Livorno is a workaday port near Pisa, its historic rivals on the football pitch. Fans will have to wait a while before the two meet, however, as flagship club US Livorno 1915 are the recently refounded entity of the historic Livorno Calcio, promoted to Serie A in 2013. Inheriting their record, their dark-red shirts and venerable Stadio Armando Picchi, the 2021 iteration of Liverno’s football team began life in the fifth-tier Eccellenza division.

Over in Pisa, ‘Torri’ continue to knock on the door of Serie A. Livorno has other rivalries, however, often ignited by the left-wing politics of the club’s followers. When back in Serie A, Livorno faced clubs with right-wing support, such as Lazio, Hellas Verona and Internazionale. It was against Livorno that Lazio’s Paulo Di Canio gave that famous post-game Fascist salute.

Bar Franco/Peterjon Cresswell

Ironically, Livorno’s stadium first bore the name of Edda Ciano Mussolini, the daughter of Il Duce. Tucked in from the Naval Academy on the shores of the Tyrrhenian Sea, the arena was built in the height of Fascism and shares some the hallmarks of the municipal stadia constructed in Turin, Florence and Bologna.

Livorno can trace their history to three decades beforehand. Two local clubs, Virtus Juventusque and SPES, played occasional games against teams of visiting English sailors. One on the piazza della Vittoria attracted a crowd of 1,500. Matches with Tuscan clubs usually took place in the grounds of the city’s grand villas, such as the Campari (then known as Chayes, today the run-down Hotel Universal), the Pellegrini and the Fabbricotti.

On Valentine’s Day 1915, the pair merged to form Unione Sportiva Livorno, who played at the Villa Chayes, one of the grounds used by SPES.

Bar Franco/Peterjon Cresswell

Another club, Pro Livorno, were founded in 1919, adopting the Tuscan colours of green and white used by SPES – but by 1922 they too had merged with US Livorno. Their home ground was the Villa Chayes, viale di Antignano, down the coast from the current stadium. As now, Livorno played in the city colours of maroon, amaranto to Italians.

Having moved to their new stadium before the war, Livorno had checkered seasons during and after it, finishing league runners-up in 1943, nearly going out of business in 1991 and making it through the group stages of the UEFA Cup in 2006.

The most recent celebrations came after the 2013 Serie A play-off win over Empoli – though the joy was ultimately short-lived, given relegation a season later.

Getting Around

Arriving in town, local transport and timings

Livorno is 20km (12 miles) from Pisa Airport, 2km (1.2 miles) from Pisa with its own rail station. There is no direct service to Livorno by train or bus. A train to Pisa Centrale takes 5mins, then 15mins to Livorno, with a basic price of €3.30. A taxi (+39 050 541 600) to Livorno should cost around €60.

Local buses in Livorno are run by ATL. A single ticket is €1.20, €1.70 on board, a one-day giornaliera €4.20. For a local taxi, call +39 0586 883377 or +39 0586 578050 – but bear in mind that more unscrupulous drivers are used to charging cruise-ship passengers a fortune for last-minute dashes to the port.

Where to Drink

The best pubs and bars for football fans

Of Livorno’s many pubs, the Queen Victoria (via Torino 26) is the most football-focused. The London Pub (via Sardi 9) and Bad Elf are popular bars, while the Nelson Tavern, despite appearances, is more restaurant-like.

For a more local feel, Bar Sport (via de Larderei 89) is a traditional corner café while tiny Bar Franco (via San Giovanni 28) is a lovely old football haunt, run by ex-player Franco who features in the pub team line-ups displayed on four walls of Livorno club history. There’s table football in a back room. The maroon-fronted Caffè Paradiso at via Maggi 113 also distributes match tickets.

Where to stay

The best hotels for the stadium and city centre

The Livorno Tourist Office on piazza Cavour has no website but hotel information is available online.

Close to the stadium and racetrack, the three-star Hotel Atleti is a traditional lodging with nautical knick-knacks around the lobby and a tennis court for guests. Nearby, facing the seafront, the Gennarino offers superior three-star comfort with easy access to town. Further up the seafront, nearer to town, the finest hotel in Livorno is the recently refurbished NH Grand Hotel Palazzo, which dates back to 1884.

In town, the Gran Duca is convenient for the port while the inland Ariston, Città and Giappone are more modest. The Hotel Europa is a decent downtown choice. Closer to the station, the L’Amico Fritz (viale Carducci 180) is affordably modest.