At the beginning of the story of one of the most original (and damned) artists of the twentieth century, lies the city of Livorno. It is here that Amedeo Modigliani (called Dedo, or Modí) was born in 1884, and it is Livorno that witnessed his first steps, as man and as an artist. The Livorno of Modigliani is one of the most important Italian economic centers of the late nineteenth century, mainly thanks to its port. This cities last golden era was followed by a period of decline that started after the Second World War. On honor of the occasion of the exhibition at Palazzo Blu in Pisa, "Amedeo Modigliani et ses amis", we take you to Livorno in search for his places, in part disappeared forever, in part completely changed due to time and history. An "excuse" for a different and unusual exploration of this beautiful and "sanguine" Tuscan town! 1 . Home, Via Roma 38 In this house, large and cozy, Amedeo Modigliani was born on July 12, 1884. Here he undertook his first studies. Today the house is a museum displaying documents and photographs of the artist’s life. 2. Fosso Reale Along the Fosso Reale (Royal Canal) and the streets of the old part of the city, Modigliani walked in the company of his beloved grandfather, Isaac, spending entire days talking about history, philosophy, books and playing chess by the sea. 3. Guglielmo Micheli’s Atelier, Via Baciocchi/Via Gamerra The workshop of Guglielmo Micheli, a post-Macchiaioli painter, was a large room with large windows, on the ground floor of the Baiocchi villa. Modigliani enrolled in the school at the end of 1898 and here he met with other future artists with whom he often spent time drawing landscapes, a subject that Modigliani hated and would then avoid for the rest of his life! The villa was razed to the ground during a bombing raid in 1943 and now, in its place, there is a reconstructed building, home of a religious pension. 4. Classical High School “Niccolini-Guerrazzi”, Via Ernesto Rossi 6 Founded in 1861 is still the most prestigious educational institution in the city.
5. Caffè Bardi, Piazza Cavour Since 1908, the Caffè Bardi became a meeting point for artists, scholars, politicians, philosophers and musicians, from Livorno, from Italy and from abroad. Modigliani assiduously attended it during his homecomings, in 1909 and 1913. The place has closed in 1927 and, after being abandoned for years, the building is now a shop.
6. Atelier Modigliani, Via Gherardi del Testa In this street, next to the central market (a beautiful structure of the nineteenth century), Modigliani rented a large room to be used as a studio during his stay in Livorno. The place recalls the memory of the legendary "lost heads of Modigliani's". It is said that, at the suggestion of some playful friends, Modigliani, before returning to Paris, threw some sculptures it in the ditch nearby. In 1991, however, a man claimed to be in possession of the sculptures, left to his uncle by Modi, leaving for Paris. After many vicissitudes, the sculptures are now kept in a bank vault, while the Atelier of Modigliani was destroyed during the Second World War and in its place, there is now a modern building. 7. Scali degli Olandesi (Ditch of the Dutch) In the sixteenth century the Medici decided that the port of Livorno would became the port of Tuscany and so they rebuilt the city center, surrounding it with a series of channels (Fossi). Along one of these channels, in the summer of 1913, took place one of the most unclear episodes in the life of Modigliani. The story was recounted by one of Modigliani’s photographer friends: Dedo pulled out a head carved in stone, wrapped it in newspaper, he then waited for his friends' opinion, they laughed, and without saying a word he tossed the sculpture into the ditch. Right in the Fosso degli Olandesi, during a research conducted in 1984, three heads were found, however, they proved to be false and the result of a sensational joke concocted by some students at the expense of the most famous art experts.
[Source: “I luoghi di Modigliani tra Livorno e Parigi”, by Luca Dal Canto, Ed. Erasmo]