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 a 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. 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!
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.
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.
Founded in 1861, it's still the most prestigious educational institution in the city.
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 was closed in 1927 and, after being abandoned for years, the building is now a shop.
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.
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 in the ditch nearby. In 1991, however, a man claimed to be in possession of the sculptures, left to his uncle by Modì 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.
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.
Original article by Leila Firusbakht