Tag: livorno

A Trip to Livorno, Volterra Comics and Fantasy Day 2 (22/05/2022)

A Trip to Livorno, Volterra Comics and Fantasy Day 2 (22/05/2022)

No walk today either… sorry!

We thought we had seen most of what the Volterra Comics and Fantasy had to offer on the first day. We were only a little wrong – we had the awards ceremony and further costumes to come – more on that later.

We had been intrigued by Livorno during our first visit there a couple of years ago, and wanted to go back to at least experience the food market. I remembered the humidity then, and my promise to wear shorts next time, but wussed-out over sun-cream maintenanced and went fully-trousered. This time parked in the Parcheggio Moderno, just a couple of blocks north of the market. We missed a couple of turns in the middle of town, but Livorno is strangely forgiving, and we just had an extra spin around a few blocks and the hippodrome-shaped Piazza della Repubblica. Not much fuss, only a little muss! It’s a storeyed car-park, and so the vehicle would be shaded. We found a spot quite handily just one floor up. Did I mention this was a Sunday?

Anyway, we got out of the car, and headed immediately towards the market. Again, did I mention this was a Sunday? Of course it was closed. Shrugging, as we weren’t hugely surprised, we instead went on an explore of the city. I have to say, Livorno is one of the most underrated cities in Tuscany. Yes, it has an air of dirt of grit about it, but it is also quite lovely in places and it is a genuine city – you are looking at Tuscans and work and play there. While the tourist count is increasing (lots of UK people, strangely), it’s still quite uncluttered. I think we are going to make it a must-visit for most of our stays in Tuscany.

I love Livorno’s ‘Venetian’ quarter – we hadn’t seen it the first time around, so the return trip had already paid us in gold, with or without the market. We skipped the fortezza, not knowing it could be entered. As we had left around the 11:00 mark, we had become a little hungry. We were still on our Asian food kick, and so looked out for whatever Chinese/Japanese/Thai food place we could find.

Google (eventually) led us to ZEN Livorno. We settled in and had what turned out to be pretty decend food.

What wasn’t photographed was some tasty (to us, we hadn’t had it before, but had seen YouTubers rave about it) okonomiyaki – a sort of omlette made with cabbage, flour and eggs. There might have been meat in this one; I can’t remember – but I do remember the dancing fish-flakes. It was all tasty enough and we left satisfied. I am still (even at the time of writing this – Sept 14th, 2022) on my quest to find a decent Cantonese-style food – but after having tried places in Florence, Siena, Poggibonsi, Colle di Val d’Elsa, Cecina, Pontedera and Empoli. We have drawn the conclusion that Cantonese food here is at very best about equivalent to your average takeaway (with far fewer choices of dish), at worst Godawful. But they do dumplings reasonably well (sold as ‘ravioli’ on their menus). If you know of any good Cantonese restaurants in Tuscany, or north Lazio/west Umbria please let us know! There could be a virtual cookie in it for you! 🙂

Anyway, food done satisfactorily, we continued our walk about the town. It wasn’t insufferably hot, so my choice of trouserware was adequate for the day!

We stopped off at a gelateria and sat down to eat our bounty. Literally! I had bounty gelato. It was nice enough. We then headed back to the car and high-tailed it back to Volterra. We decided to head back on a more scenic route, when we got closer to Volterra.

It was still remarkably green in May. Amazing to think how it changes in the hotter months!

After a brief chill at the apartment, we headed back out to see what the cosplayers were up to that afternoon. There were definitely some cool costumes on display. There was a guy there dressed as Sean Connery as Indiana Jones’ dad in The Last Crusade. He blew me away… looked so much like him… even had the same dimples when he smiled.

The talent spotting continued. We hit up Bar Priori for an aperitivo while we people-watched.

Later on we watched the awards ceremony. I didn’t know who most were dressing up as, but Wolverine was my standout, as he sprinted up to the stage to get his award. He had fabulous spirit, and looked pretty damn good too.

After the weekend we had been told by someone living in the town that it wasn’t nearly as well-attended as in previous years. That could have been down it being held 3 weeks or so earlier than usual, or that it was just post-pandemic – who can say? I hope it picks up again next year.

I have a youtube video of some of the festival down below. Take a look!

Later on in the day, I had a walk about to check out the sunset and grabbed a burger from L’Hamburgheria and ate it whole!

Screenwatching and bed! Not exactly detail-filled, but we enjoyed ourselves!

The Acquarium in Livorno – 11/08/2020

The Acquarium in Livorno – 11/08/2020

Warning: this post is photo-heavy!

In an attempt to (a) fit in like a local, and (b) reduce the effort I have to make to maintain sunblocker on my person, I tend to wear long trouser/jeans in almost any temperature, unless I know I’ll end up spending most of the day in high heat.

I took a look at the temperatures I had been experiencing in Volterra, and the morning we decided to go to the acquarium in Livorno, I compared them to the weather there. A few degrees cooler on the coast today – easy-peasy!

We hopped in the car, and Niamh drove at first to near the outskirts of Cecina, before taking the carriageway north to Livorno. Towards the end, the road lanes reduced to one each side, and hugged the coast a bit more. My God there were tons of people attending beaches. In some cases, cars and scooters lined the roads for kilometers at a time. It was August alright – Italians on holiday everywhere! Some of the scenery along the coast was nice. I couldn’t take shots, as I was the navigator for the journey, and was glued to my phone.

We drove around the outskirts of town, and found our way to the acquarium carpark. There was a queue to get it. Not having sufficient patience, we motored instead to a carpark about 600 meters north, and parked handily enough – albeit in an exposed spot. The car would be warm when we got back, but so what?

I got out.

And I was hit with what I could only describe was something to the wall of steam you generate in a shower. I had neglected the check the humidity. It was around the 85-85% mark, versus Volterra’s mid 40’s. Ok, it’s not quite Florida or Thailand, but it didn’t take long to discover that I had made a cruel mistake by wearing jeans. Thankfully my anxiety wasn’t too bad on the day, or such oppressive heat would have exacerbated it.

I only paused a couple of times to take snaps on the way back to the acquarium. There was a little nervousness from the pair of us, as we were unsure from the website as to whether or not we had to book tickets in advance due to the Covid situation.

We got to the acquarium and we were able to get tickets just by queueing. They were only letting so many people in the building to keep people social distancing as best as possible. Everyone had to mask up – never fun when you’re anxious, but that’s what mindfulness tools are for.

We only had to wait 15-20 minutes and we were in and looking. Generally, people were waiting for sections to be free of people before moving on, so it sort of led to a giant queue going around the facility. I say ‘sort of’, because of course everyone lost their patience and moved on and mingled anyway. Humans gotta human.

We took a monstrous number of snaps.

One of the other reasons I wanted to visit Livorno was right next to the acquarium: Piazza Mascagni – a huge, checker-boarded promenade along the shorefront.

We first got to see it from a terrace a couple of floors up within the acquarium building.

We went back in, and had visited an exhibition of lizards and insects within the acquarium building. This was a nice little surprise addition.

And after we left the acquarium, on our hunt for food, we walked along Piazza Mascagni. It’s a fabulous little attraction, if a little dizzying at times to look down upon while you’re walking!

An unwanted side-feature was the how far we had to walk to find we couldn’t find any halfway decent restaurants ready to accept us as walk-ins. We were baking by now and were eventually happy to walk back and grab one of the last tables in one of the more touristy places near the promenade. I had a breaded escallop with fries, which hit the spot. Niamh was less than happy with her fritto misto, unfortunately.

Once done, we headed back in the oppressive heat and humidity to the car, scorched our bums on the seat and set off for home. It was a fun day, but next time Livorno: shorts! Apologies in advance. I took one shot on the way back to the car, and one on the drive home.

That evening, we headed out to Il Sacco Fiorentino for dinner. They do the nicest fries I’ve had so far in Volterra. I think my stomach was at me, so I just had grilled veggies as a starter and then pasta with some sort of seafood. I wasn’t mad about it and only had about half of it (a very rare event for me). Niamh, on the other hand, had a lovely stew of wild boar and black olives, along with a side of tried and trusted fries.