Great Bedfordian: Liberato ‘Libby’ Lionetti

Libby and Penelope. Image: Libby Lionetti
Libby and his wife Penelope. Image: Libby Lionetti

This month’s Great Bedfordian is Liberato ‘Libby’ Lionetti who has run the cafe La Piazza in St Paul’s Square for the last 27 years. A proud Bedford Italian, Libby is one of the most optimistic people we know, and as we’re celebrating all things Italia this month, he was the perfect candidate.

Over to you, Libby…

Name: Libby Lionetti

Born here or blow in? I was born in Bedford in 1966.

Best breakfast? The best breakfast used to be at the Tavistock Sandwich Bar (RIP) in the 1970s. I was working there from age 12. Now, I reckon anywhere that opens up to greet you and serve breakfast before 8am is worthy of our respect.

Best boozer? The Queen in Preston Road – it’s the last surviving pub in Queen’s Park. It’s been going since I was a kid and it’s a proper traditional pub; with great beers, a pool table, sports on the TV, great landlord and landlady. 

Best coffee or cuppa? Apart from La Piazza, I would have to say Cafe Crema on Bedford High Street. We always help each other out.

Libby's brother, Leonardo and his band in the 1970s. Image: Libby Lionetti
Libby’s brother, Leonardo and his band in the 1970s. Image: Libby Lionetti

Best gig? My brother used to play at The Plaza when it was a cinema. Every Sunday they would show Italian films and his band would play in the interval. Leonardo was the singer and I would have been about six or seven years old. It was always packed.

Have you ever read the Pilgrim’s Progress? I haven’t read it but we were told a bit about it at school.

Have you ever eaten a Bedfordshire Clanger? Yes – and I liked it!

An off-the-beaten-track gem that everyone should know about? The Swan Hotel is the gem of Bedford. The spa, the food, the whole thing.

Best Bedfordian? I can’t single one person out so I would choose all those people behind the scenes at the council and other organisations who are pushing Bedford forward. They are the real heroes.

Three words to describe Bedford Borough? O sole mio!

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