Livorno's Specialities: Cacciucco, Torta di Ceci and Ponce
No visit to Livorno is complete without trying one of the city’s local specialities. Perhaps the most obvious of these, Livorno being a port with lots of fishing activity, is the fish stew known as “Cacciucco”. This rich dish with a tomato base contains five different kinds of fish and served in a soup dish on a thick slice of bread rubbed with garlic. These days the dish has become a symbol of Livorno. (To find out how to make your own Cacciucco, click here)
The term cacciucco is also used locally to refer to a varied mixture of something, rather like the population of Livorno itself with its various foreign communities back in the 16th and 17th centuries.
You can get a good Cacciucco at many of the city’s fish restaurants.
Other Livornese fish dishes include “Triglie alla Livornese” (Livornese red mullet) and Spaghetti al nero (pasta with cuttle fish ink)
Another local speciality, known as “Torta di Ceci”, is a kind of pancake made from chick peas. The batter is poured into huge round flat dishes and cooked in the same oven used to make pizzas. Sold by weight, it is traditionally eaten in bread as a 5&5 (“Cinque e Cinque”) which refers to the original value of the bread and the torta (5 old liras of bread and 5 of "torta"). It is popular as a takeaway snack but in some places can also be eaten ‘in’. For a list of Tortai in Livorno, click here
To finish off your meal you can try the well-known and very popular Livornese ‘Ponce’, a potent hot drink made from coffee and rum in a secret formula. The most famous bar in Livorno for Ponce is Civili in Via del Vigna, but it is available everywhere.