Just a short distance from Florence and Pisa is Livorno, a down-to-earth, port city of Italy, that’s a favorite destination for the freshest seaside cuisine. Livorno is a mix of modern and medieval architecture, world-class art and multiple styles of cuisine. While most non-cruising tourists mistakenly pass by Livorno in favor of other well-known Tuscan towns, there are a number of reasons you’ll want to experience this charming, but lesser-known Italian seaport.
During your European cruise, you’ll have ample opportunity to explore Livorno’s highlights and taste it’s one-of-kind cuisine. You can also take a shore excursion to the Leaning Tower of Pisa, tour the medieval town of Lucca and even explore the Renaissance city of Florence.
While you are tasting the cuisine in this coastal area, you’ll notice the term “alla livornese” which means in Livornese style. This particular style means dishes with a rich tomato sauce base with a spicy kick, so keep this in mind when ordering. Livorno and its surrounding towns offer many different snacks and street foods, so be sure to bring this list we’ve put together of the top foods to try, so you don’t miss a bite!
1. Crudites di Mare
In this city of seafood, you’ll enjoy raw tuna, mullets, prawns, mussels and oysters. Fresh Livorno seafood always has a bit of lemon somewhere in the recipe.
Livorno is best known for its seafood specialties and it’s most popular dish is seafood stew. Cacciucco is fish mixed with herbs and tomatoes, and then spooned over a bed of garlic toast. The recipe slightly varies from restaurant to restaurant—from a thin to a thick consistency—but never misses a beat when it comes to flavor.
3. Baccalà alla Livornese
Another traditional Livorno dish is dried, salted cod sautéed and smothered in a tomato, onion, garlic and parsley sauce. Before it’s sautéed, the cod is soaked to eliminate some of the extreme salt.
4. Riso Nero alla Livornese
Along with many seafood dishes, you’ll likely have a side or a bed of risotto. If you have this particular risotto, it’s black in color from the ink of squid used in the recipe. Mixed in are sage, red onion, red pepper and olive oil for a savory dish that is an outstanding favorite in Italy.
5. Cinque e Cinque
This is the nickname for a popular street snack that’s pressed ceci beans in a serving of bread. Cinque e cinque are similar to pancakes in shape and ceci is italian for chickpeas.
6. Torta di Ceci
This is a cake-like dish made from chickpea flour. Though it may sound bland, it’s certainly not. This local specialty looks like a large, baked pancake then cut like pizza. Eat this treat rolled up while you walk around the town.
7. Acciughe alla Povera
If you’re an anchovy lover, you’ll definitely want to taste this dish of raw anchovies marinated in lemon juice. Though it used to be considered a “poor man’s meal,” today it’s considered a delicacy.
Though it’s not a sweet cake, this cake is definitely a treat to eat after seafood. Castagnaccio is a cake made from chestnut flour mixed with olive oil, rosemary, raisins or other dried fruit. Sometimes pine nuts are added for a savory version. It’s gluten- and sugar-free for those who may want to eat a healthy treat.
9. Spadellata di Cozze e Vongole
Another seafood dish that features mussels and clams is Spadellata di Cozze e Vongole. They are seared and simmered in white wine then served on a bed of toasted bread.
Though these biscuits are popular for Easter, you’ll find them year round in Livorno. Cenci, also known as Chiacchiere, are fried strips of dough and can be shaped into thin, twisted ribbons and sprinkled with powdered sugar.
Also known as “frate,” this is a must-taste for breakfast in Livorno. The sweet fritters are light and airy, even though they are fried and covered in sugar.
12. Gelato (Ice Cream)
In Italy, you’ll find ice cream, known as gelato, in a gelateria. Gelato can come in a wide variety of seasonal flavors such as lemon, orange, watermelon and more. Gelato stands typically allow you to choose multiple flavors from their already large variety of flavors. Gelaterias are notoriously small with limited seating, so it’s perfectly fine to take a stroll with your gelato.
Imagine a ship in churning waters that accidentally mixed its cargo of coffee and rum together. That’s the story of how the drink, ponce, was invented long ago. It’s served in bars and finished with a twist of lemon peel.
14. Tuscany Wine
Last, but not least, is Tuscan wine. Wine lovers know that Tuscany’s celebrated wines can’t be missed. You won’t go far in Italy before you find wines—whether you order at a restaurant, a trattoria, a gourmet food shop, covered market or in one of the region’s famous wine bars. Of all the things to buy in Livorno, it goes without saying that you’ll have to bring a bottle home. Carnival allows you to bring one 750 ml bottle per adult if you’re over 21 years of age.
Locals love to drink ponce while eating roschette. The rings of dough made from flour, olive oil and water look like donuts or even bagels, but they’re not sweet at all.
When embarking on your European cruise, you’ll cruise to Livorno on either Carnival Legend® or Carnival Radiance™ . A cruise with Carnival means we take care of the details, so you can have the time to immerse yourself in cultural and gastronomic experiences of this unique Italian region.