Sea storms often invade the shiny checkerboard floor of the Mascagni Terrace, in Livorno. This brave terrace – defenseless in front of waves’ eternal impetus – needs protection and constant care.
It is deserted in the early morning. You have to wait a while for someone to arrive, as Giorgio Caproni – a Livorno native – explained to his own soul with his poem, “The last prayer”: “You will arrive in Livorno / you will see, before daylight. // No one will be there / yet, but one / by one look at the people come out / of every front door, and wait / (while the pavement smells of fish / and night)…”
Piazza Mascagni was built in 1925, according to a design by Enrico Salvais, in an area that until 1896 had been the location of an amusement park called “Eden”, where the first public cinema show in Italy was held. Then, after the Second World War, the area was leveled off and expanded north.
But the unstoppable sea invaded this defenseless space over and over, causing serious damage. In the early 1990s, a long-awaited restoration brought it back to its original beauty. Even the music Gazebo by Ghino Venturi, built in the 1930s and destroyed during wartime bombings, was recreated.
Now, every day the terrace fills with people, happy to look out at the see, and hopeful that the waves will be kind to this fragile corner dedicated to urban rest.
This is Livorno’s best side, the one that had Pier Paolo Pasolini say, every time he had to leave: “I leave my heart on its huge seafront, full of kids and sailors, free and happy”.