Livorno is the jumping off point for tours to Pisa and Florence. Today would be a 12 hour port visit to provide enough time ashore to allow guests time to take excursions to Pisa and Florence. We have spent weeks driving rental cars all around this area over the years, but we never spent much time in the port cities, so we decided to relax on the ship and spend a little time checking out Livorno in the afternoon.
We arrived at 7am and once again we were in a port that provided a shuttle bus from the cruise terminal to the center of town.
Around 3pm we headed off the ship and caught the shuttle bus into town. Inside the cruise terminal there was free, but slow WiFi, the City Sightseeing Hop On Hop Off bus counter and rental car counters from Hertz and Avis.
During our research we learned that according to Trip Advisor and Rick Steves, a place called Torteria da Gagarin was the best local restaurant it Livorno. It was located less than a mile away at 24 Via del Cardinale. So off we went in search of this restaurant and any other interesting sites along the way.
We plugged in the address to our MAPS.ME app and it showed us the best walking route to get to the restaurant. I can’t say enough about the app MAPS.ME (and I am not getting paid to say this) which is available in the apple store and gives you detailed street maps along with the capability to give you pedestrian routing and the distance.
Once we arrived at 24 Via Del Cardinale, we discovered that there weren’t any signs of a restaurant, but only a aluminum garage door firmly locked in the down position. I checked Tripadvisor once again and there was a review only 3 days old and then I noticed that it didn’t open until 4:30, about 20 minutes later. We decided to kill the 20 minutes wandering around a nearby open-air market similar to a flea market in the USA but we didn’t see anything that looked particularly interesting.
It was now about 4:35 so we headed back to 24 Via Del Cardinale and sure enough the garage door was open, exposing a beaded curtain that hid whatever was on the other side. There wasn’t any sign or any other indication that this was a restaurant. We decided to see what was behind the curtain. We plunged inside, and yes, this was Torteria da Gagarin and there were 5 people inside who had already placed their orders.
The restaurant consisted of two standup counters to hold your beverage while you ate, the main counter with beverages for sale on display in a glass case, and then a wood fired oven behind the counter where they baked the food. There was another food preparation area hidden from view further in the back.
The menu was on a single typewritten piece of paper taped to the wall and only in Italian. Fortunately they had a reprint of an English newspaper review which suggested that the 5 x 5 (name referring to the original value of 5 cents for torta and bread) was the best item on the menu. Using my best Italian accent I requested a Cinque e Cinque with eggplant. What I ordered was a Torta di Ceci (a savoury pancake made from Chick Pea flour), but stuffed between a pocket of Focaccia bread along with a fried eggplant and cheese. The woman behind the counter nodded and I added I would like a Heineken Beer and a Coke. Total Cost 6.50 Euros.
In a few minutes the woman behind the counter handed me our Cinque e Cinque, which she cut in half at our request with each half wrapped in paper, along with my beer and Judy’s Coke. It was hot, fresh and very good. Highly recommended if you want to experience a really local place next time you are in Livorno.
As we headed back to the central square and the shuttle bus stop we window shopped past the shops that were now coming back to life after their afternoon break. We did come across a shop that had a few balls of yarn in the window, but it was cotton based and didn’t look that interesting so we took a pass.
Near the shuttle bus stop we picked up a key chain and some post cards before we caught the next bus back to the ship.
We were back on the ship around 5:30 pm and relaxed in our cabin until the sail-away. As we left the harbor, I noticed for the first time the Livorno Lighthouse, called Fanale dei Pisani, which was originally built by the Pisans in 1303 – over 700 years old! However what is standing there today was the rebuilt version (circa 1954) since the original lighthouse was destroyed during WW II.
For dinner this evening, we both chose the Lobster Cobb Salad, which was amazing.
Tonight show was an encore performance of the Lomax Brothers and Jesse Kazemek. They were both amazing and put on outstanding, high energy shows and brought the audience to its feet. Don’t miss either of these shows if they come to a cruise ship near you.This entry was posted in Uncategorized