Before there was pizza in Lucca, there was focaccia – delicious bread dough flattened into sheets that are pressed down with the baker’s finger tips, drizzled with olive oil and salt and baked to golden deliciousness. To taste it warm from the oven is heavenly.
A truly great baker knows how to make focaccia thin enough that the crust is crunchy but not so thin or thick that the body becomes hard or spongy. This is harder to accomplish than it sounds, but happily at the Forno a Vapore Amedeo Giusti, in via Santa Lucia, 18/20, close to the Church of San Michele, they have been achieving since 1823. It makes a perfect afternoon snack or accompaniment to an aperitif, so while Forno Giusti doesn’t offer the beverages of a caffè, it is still a great place to pick up a snack or treat.
In addition to their focaccia al suolo, they make thicker versions, a sweet version with sugar and raisins, and valdostana – focaccia with ham and cheese baked inside. Among the standout breads that they make throughout the day are a crusty loaf of stone-ground, unbleached flour called della Nonna, and a loaf of unsweetened dark flour with hazelnuts and raisins. The variety and quality of Giusti’s handmade creations never disappoints. It is an institution well worth frequent visits.