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The Cacciucco, Livorno’s prime delicacy

The Cacciucco, Livorno’s prime delicacy

An explosion of flavor in labronese sauce

The Cacciucco, the story of Livornese tradition in a dish

Only when you taste the true Livornese Cacciucco can you say that you have truly grasped the soul of Livorno. A soul that emerges from the complex and varied blend of knowledge, flavors, and diverse identities, which, when fused together, give life to a strong, bold, and distinctive character. A character that often found in the need to feed the most humble sectors of the population the ingenuity and imagination to create a dish as unique as Cacciucco.

The legend of the name Cacciucco

Various legends are told about the origins of the name “Cacciucco”. The most well-known recounts the story of Ahmet, a young Turk born on the coast of Smyrna in the second half of the 1600s. When he arrived in Livorno, he opened a tavern, “da Ahmet“, which offered as its signature dish “balık çorbası“, a fish soup learned from his mother. However, Ahmet made several modifications: he removed the capers, added tomato sauce, a recent novelty that had arrived in Livorno from Seville, and, to save money, he started using only small unsold fish from the market stalls. So much so that when the fishmongers tried to offer him larger fish at a higher price, Ahmet firmly replied: “küçük küçük” (small small), emphasizing with his hands the size of the desired fish. This is how the irony of the Livornese fishmongers renamed Ahmet “Cacciucco” and with him his fish soup, which had meanwhile conquered the palates of everyone.

However, we owe the first true Cacciucco recipe, dating back to 1891, to Pellegrino Artusi, who elevated it to the pantheon of Italian cuisine by including it in his book “Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well“. Although the recipe is now standardized, every family in Livorno has its own version today. It is impossible to determine which one is the best, but in Livornese restaurants, you can taste various versions and make your own ranking.

The sea allows itself to be savored fish by fish

Beyond popular stories, this culinary masterpiece, born from the ingenuity of the fishermen and their wives who turned unsold catch into a dish now “legendary”, the Cacciucco is a complex recipe that involves the use of numerous species of fish. Strictly from the rocks, not always the same, but similar and adaptable depending on the moment.

Scorpionfish, red scorpionfish, tub gurnard, anglerfish, frogfish, bogue, etc. must make up at least one third of the total, to be combined with filleted fish – anglerfish or cod – and above all with octopus from the rocks. Not to mention the possible addition of mantis shrimp and, to enrich everything, mussels.

Each ingredient, flavored with a sauté of garlic, sage, and abundant chili pepper to which tomato puree is added, is placed in the pot according to a precise order, based on cooking times, and deglazed with red wine.

A collection of flavors that captivate

Served on a bed of toasted slices of bread and heavily garlic-infused, Cacciucco strictly pairs with a light red wine. Enjoying it is truly an unforgettable experience. Each variety of fish, supported by the boldness of garlic, the aroma of sage, and the liveliness of chili pepper, melts and enhances in the liveliness of tomato, delivering a burst of taste and pleasure with every bite. Impossible to resist!

Cacciucco Pride: the appointment for Cacciucco lovers

To enhance this culinary delicacy that speaks so much about the identity of Livorno, the “Cacciucco Pride” was born: an annual event that, in the month of September, through tastings, show cooking, and performances, will give you the opportunity to fully immerse yourself in Livorno’s cuisine, savoring every nuance.

The Cacciucco, Livorno’s prime delicacy

Useful informations

  • Who:

    Alone, Children and families, Groups, In pairs, With friends

  • When:

    Autumn, Spring, Summer, Winter

  • What:


  • Other characteristics

    Indoors, Outdoors, Reachable by public transport, Without reservation

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