Hidden treasures

The 'Four Moors' in Livorno

Historical Curiosities

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

Latest posts

Siena: The Legend of the Colle di Malmerenda

Mysteries & Legends

Siena in the 1300s would have provided excellent material for a beautiful animated fiction. In fact, the struggles between the most pow...


Florence: History of the 'Bischeri' of Florence

Figures of speech

Bischero is one of the best-known Tuscan words. Calling someone a 'bischero' means describing them as a naive, good-for-nothing and not...


Siena: Poggibonsi's horse and pig

Local Traditions

Even Tuscany, like any other part of the world, has its amusing collection of folk legends. These are legends that have been handed dow...


Florence: The Lampredotto of Firenze, the king of street food!

Did you know that...

There are dishes that count as established institutions in the tradition and culture of some cities. Here, in Florence, this role is pl...


Top posts

Arezzo: Guido d'Arezzo and the invention of the music

Big Names

In Talla and surroundings people have no doubt: the inventor of the musical stave, the inventor of the music notes and also of the mode...


Pistoia: The Kiss of the Christs in Gavinana

Local Traditions

It is a very ancient but still popular rite. Two large processions that meet up with a Christ on the cross in front of each one: the he...


Siena: Piero Carbonetti and his tin drum

Local Traditions

Subversive, persecuted, anarchist, homeless, dreamer: it is really difficult to define Piero Carbonetti, Tuscan bred and born and Garib...


Pisa: Kinzika, the young woman who saved Pisa from the Saracens

Local Traditions

It was really her, a young woman with an Arabian name, Kinzica, of the noble Sismondi family, to save Pisa from being sacked by Saracen...