Hotel Gran Duca, Piazza Giuseppe Micheli 16, 57120 Livorno. Tel: 00 39 0586 891024
I can throughly recommend this admirable establishment to anyone wanting to stay. It is both central and overlooks one of the myriad harbours or dock of Livorno, which, it’s true, does generate a certain early morning clamour, human and motorised, The staff are charming, helpful and efficient. There’s a decent recent restaurant attached. And it’s reasonably priced. I paid my bill in full.
What’s more the Gran Duca to which refers is not a Medici or other Tuscan grand pajandrum. The Gran Duca in question is Robert Dudley, Duke of Northumberland in recognition of his services to the city, if I understood the inscription correctly.
There is also a strong British literary connection with Livorno, although not always with happy circumstances. Not only is Tobias Smollett buried here, but also PB Shelley lived here in 1891 while writing The Cenci; and it was from Livorno, or Leghorn as it was known then, and is still known on Google Maps, he set sail for Lerici in 1822 after a meeting Leigh Hunt, and drowned en route when his boat, the Don Juan, capsized. He was 30.
And the last connection I am aware of, and for which I am grateful once again to the Sage of Bra, John Irving, is that G, John Berger’s Booker Prize-winning novel of 1972, opens in the city with Umberto, a merchant who dealt in candied fruit.
I have happy memories of Livorno.