La Venezia Nuova, Livorno’s oldest neighborhood, fills up with colors, music and culinary specialties during an annual summer event called “Effetto Venezia.”
More than 150,000 people are expected to attend the event, that features a series of performances ranging from rock to opera, from classical theater to experimental, from prose to comedy, from dance to street performers. Shows take place on a stage set up in the historical piazza del Luogo Pio. The festival takes place from August 3 to 7, with shows starting at 9.30 p.m.
“The idea of this year's Effetto Venezia, is to focus our eyes on our beauties, a concentration of lights, colors and lots of people smiling. This year's edition is expressly designed to enhance the Venice district,” said Mayor Luca Salvetti, in a local publication.
For locals and tourists alike, it’s the most awaited event of the year. Started in 1986, the event is designed to showcase the neighborhood, with the aim of encouraging its rediscovery. Since then, it began a neighborhood revitalization. The area is also famous for its many well-frequented clubs.
Buildings and bridges are illuminated with hundreds of lights. Visitors also navigate the historic canals and dine on the romantic boats – a highlight of Effetto Venezia that reminds people of times past.
For those curious about the name Effetto Venezia, one must look back to end of the 1500s when the Medici, an old and powerful Florentine family, decided to make Livorno the port of Tuscany.
The city grew fast and needed a mercantile district. Marshy land and numerous canals forced peopled to build foundations on the water. Venetian workers knew these techniques – hence the name. A new version of Venice arose in the first half of the 17th century and became the hub of the city. By 1794, the United States opened a consular office in Livorno.
“Effetto Venezia represents an opportunity for us to enjoy the area in which we live in fellowship with the citizens of Livorno; I am glad that U.S. community members who live and work at Camp Darby can appreciate the local history and traditions,” said Col. Matthew Gomlak, commander of U.S. Army Garrison Italy. “I suggest that U.S. personnel from Camp Darby, but also from Vicenza, immerse themselves in these traditional festivals so that they can make experience in Italy truly unforgettable.”
Many religious orders constructed beautiful churches adorned with Baroque-style furnishings, statues and stuccoes, such as the Church of St. Ferdinand the King and the octagonal Church of St. Catherine of Siena.
Fortunately, La Venezia Nuova survived the devastation of World War II, preserving much of its architectural heritage, navigable canals, bridges, historic buildings, small squares, and two accessible fortresses.