Hidden treasures

The 'Four Moors' in Livorno

Historical Curiosities
4_mori_Livorno

The 'Four Moors' in Livorno

What is the most iconic monument in Livorno? It is with no doubt the sculpted group known as 'The Monument of the Four Moors' in Piazza Micheli, near the old dock. Have you ever noticed that that the four mighty sculptures are surmounted by a marble statue? It is nothing less than Ferdinando de Medici, who, to tell the whole story, was meant to be the main statue of the sculpted composition. The monument was indeed erected to honour him. But how is it that the four chained beefy characters stole the spotlight?

Let's put things in order. In 1516, Ferdinando I De Medici founded the Order of Knights of St. Stephen with the aim of safeguarding the faith and fighting the Ottomans and the pirates. To commemorate the Order's victories in 1595, sculptor Giovanni Bandini was commissioned to make a statue depicting Ferdinando. It was built with Carrara marble and reached Livorno by sea in 1601. However, it was not until 1617 that a pedestal was added and the positioning ceremony held under the attendance of the son Cosimo II.

In 1621 Pietro Tacca was commissioned to make the four bronze statues to be positioned around the pedestal. Legend has it that the sculptor used to visit the prisons in Livorno to observe the corporeity of the Moors for the sculpture. In the end he did a great job and the four bronzes, fused in Florence in Borgo Pinti and transported to Livorno along the River Arno, immediately stole the spotlight away from Ferdinando. It could not have been otherwise if we consider the anatomical perfection of their shapes, the plasticity and tension emanated by their stance and their dramatic expression. And that is how the statue in Piazza Micheli is still today known as 'The Four Moors' and in truth, mesmerized by the four statues, it is quite hard to raise your head and realize that there is Ferdinando in there too!

A curiosity! It is said that there is a precise location around the statue from which the four noses of the moors can be seen simultaneously. Do you want to try it in person? Why not combine it with a nice visit to Livorno on the buses of the Hop On Hop Off City Tour? There is no better way to explore Livorno! And if you want more than just the tour, you can also choose one of our unmissable Excursions from Livorno. There are many destinations available, including Pisa, Florence, Siena and San Gimignano.

By Insidecom Editorial Staff

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