Food and poetry: Livorno and Bolgheri

STARTING CITY: Firenze, Livorno, Lucca, Pisa


We’ll meet and leave for Leghorn (the old English name for Livorno). Livorno (162.000 inhabitants) is the second largest city in Florence. It is not a medieval town, but a busy and picturesque port city with unparalleled fish-cuisine and seafood.
The Fortezza Vecchia, the Old Fortress, first welcomes visitors to the historical centre. It is an imposing pentagon-shaped complex erected in order to protect the harbour, and one of the best examples of the urbanization techniques of the Medici. It dominates the large harbour founded by the Medici, and its walls in edged bricks extend for almost half a mile.
Then we’ll move to one of the most characteristic (and depicted or photographed) places in the city: the large Terrazza Mascagni. It is a panoramic “belvedere” facing the seaside. There is a complex story behind this terrace. As it now stands, it is the product of radical restoration completed in the 90s, as much of it was destroyed during WWII. You can have a wonderful sight of the Tyrrhenian sea from the great balustrade, a perfect picture frame with its over 4.000 small pillars. The chessboard-like floor is made of about 38.000 black and white tiles.
For lunch, we’ll visit the very heart of Livorno’s lively sea-faring tradition, the old Venezia quarter. Its picturesque web of narrow canals, reminding one of Venice, and typical architecture from the Age of the Medici, host some very good taverns. In one of them we’ll eat, among other specialities, the famous “caciucco”, one of the best and oldest fish-soups in the world. According to the tradition, it is better savoured with the accompaniment of the right choice of red wines.

In the afternoon, we’ll leave for Bolgheri, reaching this delightful village through a long, cypresses-lined avenue, made famous by the poet and Nobel Laureate Carducci. The “borgo” itself, though tiny, swarms with artisan workshops, cellars with stocks of vintage wines, typical taverns, and boutiques. This is the Etruscan coast of Tuscany, and we’ll taste its typical gastronomy and the high-class DOC red wines that made Bolgheri famous worldwide in recent years.

Return late in the afternoon to the city chosen for the start.