From My Tuscan Window

Where to Get the Best “Sticky Buns,”
Cappuccinos, and Gelato

“Sticky buns” is the name that Anne gave to the briosce (brioches), paste da dolce (sweet rolls), bombolone (doughnuts) and other breakfast pastries, most of which are coated with sweet sticky stuff. Usually the coffee bars with the freshest and stickiest pastries also have the best cappuccinos, and for later in the day -- GELATO! Yumm, Yumm. Time to loosen that old belt another notch. Here are some of our favorites near Gioviano.

Borgo a Mozzano. The Blu Matisse offers some of the best gelato around. Anne always asks for hers con panna, which means with whipped cream on top. While eating our selection of flavors we like to watch the perpetual fashion show that plays on the television in the indoor dining area. There is also a nice outdoor terrace as well as a pizzeria and restaurant next door. The Locanda Il Pescatore is located above the Blu Matisse for those wishing to spend the night in Borgo.

Calavorno. “Kiwi” is the unlikely name for a bar on the main highway through Calavorno. Both the “sticky buns” and the cappuccinos are great here. Be careful! Hundreds of giant trucks speed through the town on this narrow road each day.

Fornaci di Barga. There are several good places to stop for “sticky buns”, gelato and cappuccino on the main drag through town. Please e-mail us with the name of your favorite one or ones so that we can post them at

Fornoli. The bar, La Serra, also known as Sandro’s after the name of the proprietor, not only serves a great selection of “sticky buns” but also makes the meanest cappuccino anywhere. You have to ask for the special that consists of black espresso in the bottom of a large cup topped with about seven pounds of the thickest, freshest whipped cream you have ever tasted. We had one that kept us so full all day that we even skipped lunch altogether. You can also get a cappuccino with the standard frothed milk. In addition,Sandro serves up the best frutti di bosco (fruit of the forest) and cioccolatto (chocolate) ice cream in town. La Ruota Bar across the street also serves up some great cappuccinos as well as tasty ice creams of many flavors.

Ghivizzano. The little old antique bar at the intersection of the road to the tourist office and the Roman Via Clodia/Francigena is a great place to watch the old men play cards with a vengeance. The gelato is very good here. There is a legend that I just made up that not only did Hannibal stop here for ice cream but Charlemagne as well, which lends further proof that they both indeed passed beneath my Tuscan window.

Piano di Gioviano (Lower Gioviano). Bar Leo, now called “il Quadrifoglio”, is very conveniently located at the intersection of the road leading up to Gioviano and the highway to Lucca. Don’t arrive too late or the best “sticky buns” will be gone as the place is very popular with the early morning, before work, crowd. Italian newspapers are also available here.

Ponte a Serraglio. Just across the road from the bridge across the Lima is a great bar with a large terrace in front for sitting and watching people walk by while indulging in a taste treat. When we get the urge for a heaping coppetta (cup) of mixed gelato flavors, this is where we stop when visiting the villages that make up the Bagni di Lucca. If you are overstuffed from having eaten at the Circolo dei Forestieri, stop here for some refreshing gelato di limone (lemon), which is more like a tart sorbet and aids digestion.
Updated December 22, 2009
Copyright 2005-2009 George H. Russell
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