1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Leghorn

LEGHORN (Ital. Livorno, Fr. Livourne), a city of Tuscany, Italy, chief town of the province of the same name, which consists of the commune of Leghorn and the islands of Elba and Gorgona. The town is the seat of a bishopric and of a large naval academy—the only one in Italy—and the third largest commercial port in the kingdom, situated on the west coast, 12 m. S.W. of Pisa by rail, 10 ft. above sea-level. Pop. (1901) 78,308 (town), 96,528 (commune). It is built along the seashore upon a healthy and fertile tract of land, which forms, as it were, an oasis in a zone of Maremma. Behind is a range of hills, the most conspicuous of which, the Monte Nero, is crowned by a frequented pilgrimage church and also by villas and hotels, to which a funicular railway runs. The town itself is almost entirely modern. The 16th-century Fortezza Vecchia, guarding the harbour, is picturesque, and there is a good bronze statue of the grand duke Ferdinand I. by Pietro Tacca (1577–1640), a pupil of Giovanni da Bologna. The lofty Torre del Marzocco, erected in 1423 by the Florentines, is fine. The façade of the cathedral was designed by Inigo Jones. The old Protestant cemetery contains the tombs of Tobias Smollett (d. 1771) and Francis Horner (d. 1817). There is also a large synagogue founded in 1581. The exchange, the chamber of commerce and the clearing-house (one of the oldest in the world, dating from 1764) are united under one roof in the Palazzo del Commercio, opened in 1907. Several improvements have been carried out in the city and port, and the place is developing rapidly as an industrial centre. The naval academy, formerly established partly at Naples and partly at Genoa, has been transferred to Leghorn. Some of the navigable canals which connected the harbour with the interior of the city have been either modified or filled up. Several streets have been widened, and a road along the shore has been transformed into a fine and shady promenade. Leghorn is the principal sea-bathing resort in this part of Italy, the season lasting from the end of June to the end of August. A spa for the use of the Acque della Salute has been constructed. Leghorn is on the main line from Pisa to Rome; another line runs to Colle Salvetti. A considerable number of important steamship lines call here. The new rectilinear mole, sanctioned in 1881, has been built out into the sea for a distance of 600 yds. from the old Vegliaia lighthouse, and the docking basin has been lengthened to 490 ft. Inside the breakwater the depth varies from 10 to 26 ft. The total trade of the port increased from £3,853,593 in 1897 to £5,675,285 in 1905 and £7,009,758 in 1906 (the large increase being mainly due to a rise of over £1,000,000 in imports—mainly of coal, building materials and machinery), the average ratio of imports to exports being as three to two. The imports consist principally of machinery, coal, grain, dried fish, tobacco and hides, and the exports of hemp, hides, olive oil, soap, coral, candied fruit, wine, straw hats, boracic acid, mercury, and marble and alabaster. In 1885 the total number of vessels that entered the port was 4281 of 1,434,000 tons; of these, 1251 of 750,000 tons were foreign; 688,000 tons of merchandise were loaded and unloaded. In 1906, after considerable fluctuations during the interval, the total number that entered was 4623 vessels of 2,372,551 tons; of these, 935 of 1,002,119 tons were foreign; British ships representing about half this tonnage. In 1906 the total imports and exports amounted to 1,470,000 tons including coasting trade. A great obstacle to the development of the port is the absence of modern mechanical appliances for loading and unloading vessels, and of quay space and dock accommodation. The older shipyards have been considerably extended, and shipbuilding is actively carried on, especially by the Orlando yard which builds large ships for the Italian navy, while new industries—namely, glass-making and copper and brass-founding, electric power works, a cement factory, porcelain factories, flour-mills, oil-mills, a cotton yarn spinning factory, electric plant works, a ship-breaking yard, a motorboat yard, &c.—have been established. Other important firms, Tuscan wine-growers, oil-growers, timber traders, colour manufacturers, &c., have their head offices and stores at Leghorn, with a view to export. The former British “factory” here was of great importance for the trade with the Levant, but was closed in 1825. The two villages of Ardenza and Antignano, which form part of the commune, have acquired considerable importance, the former in part for sea-bathing.

The earliest mention of Leghorn occurs in a document of 891, relating to the first church here; in 1017 it is called a castle. In the 13th century the Pisans tried to attract a population to the spot, but it was not till the 14th that Leghorn became a rival of Porto Pisano at the mouth of the Arno, which it was destined ultimately to supplant. It was at Leghorn that Urban V. and Gregory XI. landed on their return from Avignon. When in 1405 the king of France sold Pisa to the Florentines he kept possession of Leghorn; but he afterwards (1407) sold it for 26,000 ducats to the Genoese, and from the Genoese the Florentines purchased it in 1421. In 1496 the city showed its devotion to its new masters by a successful defence against Maximilian and his allies, but it was still a small place; in 1551 there were only 749 inhabitants. With the rise of the Medici came a rapid increase of prosperity; Cosmo, Francis and Ferdinand erected fortifications and harbour works, warehouses and churches, with equal liberality, and the last especially gave a stimulus to trade by inviting “men of the East and the West, Spanish and Portuguese, Greeks, Germans, Italians, Hebrews, Turks, Moors, Armenians, Persians and others,” to settle and traffic in the city, as it became in 1606. Declared free and neutral in 1691, Leghorn was permanently invested with these privileges by the Quadruple Alliance in 1718; but in 1796 Napoleon seized all the hostile vessels in its port. It ceased to be a free city by the law of 1867.  (T. As.)