Unveiling the mysteries of Italian grocery shopping

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Today I had a shopping date. A nice couple who I’d never met but knew from Facebook, offered to let me join in on their weekly shopping round in Mercato Centrale, the huge covered market in Livorno.

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I have been here many times, of course, but mainly to take photos, or buy the odd cheese. The meat and escpecially the fish scare me, since it’s all quite different from what I’m used to at home. The meat cuts are not the same, and most of the fish I have never even seen before. Plus my rubbish Italian is not quite adequate for this kind of conversation.
So I really welcomed some help.

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We started outdoors, since many of the vegetable stalls are in and around Piazza Cavalotti, near the market. On a Saturday morning, it’s quite busy.

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Some vendors are very loud, but my new found friends took me to their favourite veggie stall where it was nice and fairly quiet, although busy.

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Then it was time to enter the covered market. What you see here is just the fish hall, a small part of the building.

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These beautiful crayfish with “eyes” on their tails, are actually very much alive and kicking, or crawling, and should be cooked the same way as lobsters. That is, put them in a pot of heavily boiling water one at a time. And apparently, they don’t die silently.
Not for me, this food!
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After purchasing some burrata (creamy mozzarella cheese) we went on to to this lovely lady for some local and organic eggs. She must be the oldest vendor in Livorno, at the age of 87-88 she’s still going strong! I chose the Montenero eggs, can’t get much more local than that, but they cost 50 cents each. I’m expecting a real treat for tomorrow’s breakfast!

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The last stop was at the butcher’s. What has intimidated me up until now is the large chunks of meat lying on display, and having no idea what to do with it. And not being able to ask, since it’s all in Italian here.
But today I watched and learned. And then managed to get a beautiful piece of meat ground and formed into patties, or burgers, in this contraption. I also got a chicken breast fillet cut into thin slices, ready to sauté.
Next time I’ll go for pork chops and some sausages.

It feels like I’ve unveiled some of the mysteries of shopping in Italy. And with some practise, I won’t have to put up with the dubious supermarket meat anymore.
Hooray!

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January 21st

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This is the San Marco theatre in the Venezia area. Only the facade remains of the original building since it was bombed during WWII. The new premises house a preschool.

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This is however a significant place in the history of Livorno, and indeed of Italy. On the 21st of January, in 1921, the Italian communist party was founded here in the theatre.  Livorno has always been a city of resistance, of partisans, of anti-fascism.

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A favourite corner

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This is one of my favourite corners in Livorno. It’s where the Fosso Reale (the old moat) turns just southeast of Piazza della Repubblica.

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I have yet to climb down these stairs and walk the quay. Maybe next time.

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The whole of Piazza della Repubblica is a huge vault, Il Voltone, over the canal.

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Doors like this fascinate me. Where does it lead? What does it look like inside?

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But now to the corner itself. I really like the curve.

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And the colourful buildings!

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Beautiful details.

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Notice how the yellow building stretches out and follows the curve.

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A pretty view of the corner with Ponte San Benedetto. And now we’ve almost reached the Mercato Centrale.

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Dogana d’Acqua morning walk

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This November day my early morning walk took me to the Dogana d’Acqua, the old water customs area.

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Fellow blogger Martin asked for news from this interesting part of Livorno, and I guess this is it. A new building along the canal. It looks like a multistory car park but seems to be apartments.

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Next to it the Baracks of Lamarmora which has been partially renovated, but it seems to take forever to get it finished.

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Not that I mind terribly, as I am partial to a bit of decay.

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At least the old footbridge is in mint condition with a fresh coat of paint.

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On the other side of the bridge, the new structure with a printed glass cover to resemble the old customs building.

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And the sunrise reflecting in the glass.

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Nothing has changed yet on the back side. But I quite like it as it is…

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Piazza del Municipio

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From car park to tidy piazza.
The Palazzo Granducale (originally from the early 1600’s but destroyed during the war and reconstructed in 1950) deserved better than having to hide behind a muddled parking lot.

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And, as the latest cleanup in downtown Livorno, the piazza is now cleared of cars, paved and planted with new palm trees.
The towered house is early 18th century Palazzo Comunale, where the mayor’s office is.

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This piazza is also where the tourists from the cruise ships are let off and picked up, so I guess the city wants to present itself in the best possible way.

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The only “before” photo I have is this, where you can see only a fraction of the throng of cars that used to occupy the piazza. I tell you, the difference is huge.

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