Sunday, March 21, 2010

Livorno for Lunch


I only wish the Italian Mother Nature got the memo. This week through Thursday - all during mid-terms - was gorgeous. Sunny, warm, spring-like...and the spring break starts and BAM! back to grey skies. The temperature is still alright, but I would like to know where the sun went! It's alright, though because I have been considering this and have concluded that in these situations one has 2 options:
1. Sit in the apartment staring out the window mournfully, moping around, and feel sorry for yourself because spring break is "supposed" to include sun
2. Laugh at the little obstacles life throws you, get up, get out and HAVE FUN.

I think the option to choose is quite obvious, no?

Livorno is a town (small city) right on the coast, west and a little south of Florence. It's not touristy at all and because of it's seaside situation is known for seafood...hence it was at the top of my to-see list. So today, my roommate Sam and I hopped on a train [I won't lie, there was some running involved as well...we like sleep] and were whisked off to the Tuscan coast!

First stop: food. We tried to find a restaurant I had heard about that specialized in the Livornese cacciucco, which is a tomato-based soup with seafood and bread...but, as we were wandering we noticed that pretty much every restaurant we had passed was closed. What to do? Walk toward the light!

...No, we weren't that hungry - we literally walked toward the restaurant we saw with the lights on. This turned out to be a very good decision. It was clearly a local place, with seafood spread out on a table just inside the door. The waiter didn't speak English, and I wanted to hug him! I did a pretty ok job of understanding. They were all out of the cacciucco, but I think they made up for it and then some...
Antipasti della casa: a homemade tartar sauce, a calamari salad, some octopus, crostini with anchovies mixed with some kind of veggies, mussels, and snails.
I don't know where to begin. The anchovy crostini was the most amazing thing...sweet (from bell peppers I think) and rich, crunchy bread and the soft mix on top...oh man. Next up: the mussels. Now, being from Massachusetts, and being a serious Legal Seafoods junkie, I have experienced mussels many times. But not like this. If I've ever had better steamed mussels in my life before these, then I don't remember. SO. FRESH.
The snails were in this really interesting sweet (balsamic vinegar? wine?) sauce, great for bread-dipping. This was definitely a very good way to meet Livorno!
Lobster pasta. Clean and simple. And oh, so, so good.

We had a GREAT time here - the little old man who clearly ran the place kept coming over and asking us how it was, and where we were from, and gave us a discount! And just in case we weren't happy enough, they brought us each a glass of limoncello (lemon liqueur, served as an after-meal drink). Not gonna lie, I was a little buzzed. But happy!! Nothing like a wonderful meal to begin a day trip.

After that we just wandered. I got the sense that there isn't much to do in Livorno other than enjoy the seafood and the lack of tourists, which sounded pretty perfect to me! On our wanderings, we found...
Tree-lined streets

Funky-shaped buildings. I wanted to go inside just to see what the rooms on the corner looked like!

Perty street lamps. I think these would make really cool earrings.

RENT in Livorno. This is clearly my kind of town.

A Greenpeace protest. Awesome.

A wedding party awaiting the bride - right across the street from the protest.

Lots and lots of boats!

I have no idea what these are - maybe for cleaning/chopping the fish?

Cute little bridges :)

Old walls around the port. And this is Italy - when I say old, I'm talkin medieval-era old.

Fisherman, laughing and generally loving life.

Water, water, everywhere...

Some abandoned art.

Poor pigeons didn't even have a crumb of a chance.

He totally posed for this picture. After rolling around in the dirt.

 And check OUT this train station:

Would that they all were this pretty!

So, you're probably thinking "so basically, you went to eat." To that, I reply - YUP! And I'd do it again. Life is good.

The day was finished with online crossword puzzles, a salad, and Law & Order:SVU in Italian. Man, I love Spring Break.


1 comment:

  1. Magnificent MaggieMarch 22, 2010 at 1:25 PM

    Sounds (and looks) like you are living on oats and gelato, with a little arugula and pecorino thrown in. An occasional fish dish. Not a bad diet! Livorno photos are GREAT!

    4 weeks to go....