During the reign of Cosimo I de ‘Medici, in response to the need to connect the new port of Livorno with the capital Florence by river, the canal between the Porta a Mare di Pisa and the Old Fortress of Livorno was built. Designed precisely in 1541, in 1563 from the Porta a Mare in Pisa it arrived near San Piero a Grado and in the years 1574-75 its route was completed by bending south to Livorno where it flowed into the Old Fortress.
Its excavation cost only 5,000 ecus. It was opened to river traffic in 1603; it was about 22 km long, 18 m wide and 1.50 m deep.
The Navicelli canal is still navigable today. The use of the water route makes the Arno River increasingly usable and livable, from a sporting, naturalistic and tourist point of view. Traveling along the canal by boat, it is possible to admire the naturalistic panorama offered to us by the territory surrounding the canal, as well as the varied range of fauna and flora in the Migliarino S. Rossore Park.
Adjacent to the canal of the Navicelli there is a cycle path that has a length of 16 km. The track follows the entire Navicelli Canal, and is completely flat, with an initial stretch on a paved road and then continues on an easy dirt road. The route starts from the traffic light placed at the intersection of the State Road SS1 Aurelia, at the entrance to the city, near the Saint Gobain Company and continues along Via Livornese. After about 300 m, you will find the bridge that crosses the canal, after which the route continues along the right bank of the watercourse, crossing, for a good stretch, cultivated fields.
The track stops temporarily at approximately 7 km, in front of the American military base of Camp Darby, and then resumes for a short distance the normal asphalt road crossed by cars, continuing to the left along the fence of the military base. Afterwards, the route crosses the Tombolo Bridge, after which it reaches the left bank of the canal to continue again on the normal cycle path with a white background. At the end of the stretch of track that runs along the perimeter of the American base, the natural park reappears and reaches the sea. The route ends around the 15-16 Km mark, where the Navicelli Canal joins the Scolmatore Canal. In some areas of the route, such as near the lakes, it is possible to admire a variety of birds, including the gray and black heron, various passerines, kingfisher and hawks. Among the mammals present in the area surrounding the canal, it is possible to spot fallow deer, wild boars and foxes.
In 2013, the Pro Loco Livorno promoted a further walking route, calling it “Via dei Navicelli”. The route starts from Livorno, and precisely from the Crypt of San Jacopo in Acquaviva, a place of pilgrimage, to reach Altopascio, intersecting with the European Via Francigena. The first part of the route takes place by boat, through the canals, in the most suggestive Livorno