Most tourists in Livorno will get their share of fish. Mainly in the form of Cacciucco, Livorno’s famous fish soup. However younger visitors to the city will thank you if they can skip the soup and observe a few living examples of the species at Livorno’s aquarium instead.
After a drawn out renovation time, the Livorno aquarium reopened in the summer 2010. The city is now the proud owner of Tuscany’s biggest aquarium, which doesn’t say much as it’s still tiny if you compare it to the famous aquarium in Genova.
Nevertheless when we visited with friends and a total of four kids, all of them had a great time. In the case of my kids, that’s not surprising. They are growing up in the dry Tuscan hinterland, where even a fish pond becomes an event. However, the kids of our Danish friends - avid zoo and aquarium goers all over the world - enjoyed the experience too.
The modest size of the aquarium was just fine with me (I have only limited attention span when it comes to fish-watching), but I enjoyed the touch pool as much as the kids. Don’t ask me what the name of the fish in it was, but I do remember they were flat in shape and liked laying on the ground.
Apart of the fishy interaction, people with an eye for architecture will be impressed by the aquarium’s beautiful building and its great position right next to Livorno’s Terrazza Mascagni .
The only reason that may speak against visiting the aquarium is the high entree fee: 12€ for an adult and 6€ for a child (children under 4 years for free).
For a family of four that quickly sums up. Add the stopover in the nice aquarium shop and you’ll be on the look-out for a cash machine. In our case the aquarium staff tried to make up for the fact that there is no family discount. When buying the tickets I got asked how old my daughter is. She had just turned five then. The woman who sold the tickets said she looked much smaller, more like three. I told her (slightly annoyed) that our daughter just happened to be a bit short for her age. At that point the woman looked - in utter disbelief - to my Tuscan native who readily confirmed that our daughter was indeed only three and a half and therefore didn’t have to pay the ticket. I’m obviously too Swiss for words.
Unless you have to watch your holiday budget very closely, Livorno’s aquarium is well worth the visit. And with the harbour down the road and parking close by it’s also a great way to kill time for people who have arrived early for their ferry to Corsica or Sardegna.
Piazzale Mascagni, 1
Tel. (+39) 0586 269 111
If you’re a fish lover on an Italy cruise, you may also want to check out Livorno’s partner programme with shared entry tickets for some of Italy’s best aquariums.
KATJA MEIER is a Swiss resident of Tuscany. She writes an excellent blog about southern Tuscany - click here!