Hidden treasures

'Ponce': an all-Livorno ritual

Local Traditions
Ponce-alla-livornese

'Ponce': an all-Livorno ritual

Livorno is a city that has so much to offer to those who visit it: the beautiful sea you can admire from Terrazza Mascagni, the four Moors, the Venice district, the beautiful aquarium and of course the local folks. How not to be drawn towards them: ironic, pungent, perhaps grumpy at times but terribly funny and entertaining. You know what is one of their favorite rituals: have a heart-warming ponce at the bar or a friend's house. And what is this? We’ll tell you in no time.

It is a hot drink, also called 'gottino' made with good coffee mixed with rum (rumme according to the Livorno pronunciation), sugar and cinnamon to which lemon rind, known as ‘la vela’ meaning the sail, is added. It is a truly potent mix: coffee stimulates the heart and the nervous system, the rum and sugar give immediate energy, the lemon brings vitamin 'C' while the aroma of cinnamon gives euphoria. There may also be variations to the original recipe in which rum can also be mixed with cognac and pebbles.

The origin of this drink is also worth telling. We must go back to the seventeenth and eighteenth when the large population of Livorno spread the news about 'punch'. In this case the drink, warm again, included as ingredients tea, sugar, lemon cinnamon, acquavite or rum from the Antilles and nutmeg. So, here's where the folks from Livorno got the inspiration for their ponce! In fact, they replaced the tea with the short coffee and the rum of the Antilles with 'fantasy rum' (that’s rumme): a local invention made with alcohol, sugar and dark caramel, sometimes flavored even with rum essence.

Now, all you have to do is travel to Livorno and drink a nice glass of Ponce! Where? The most popular venue is definitely Bar Civili where the Livornesi hang around, just to drink their favorite drink and to enjoy a laugh with friends. Since you are there, go for our Hop on-hop off tour of the city on a double-decker bus and discover, at every stop, the most beautiful sights of the city.

By Insidecom Editorial Staff

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