Francesco Bonaga, 45, runs a bakers and delicatessen of legendary status in the city.
Our shop for fine foods, Paolo Atti & Figli, was founded 150 years ago by Paolo Atti as a bakery.
Bread was all it did. After he died, the shop passed to the women of the family, who kept it running through the generations. The name hasn’t changed, and I now run it with my brother and two sisters, four generations on.
The people of Bologna are probably the most sybaritic in Italy
they like nothing more than have someone cook them a good meal with good ingredients – or to do the cooking. You might say that the whole town has become obsessed with pleasure; not just culinary pleasures, either, but those of art, music, entertainment − of life in general, actually. So whatever we do – sausages, cheese, pasta, panettone, or pralines – we do ourselves, by hand. The bread, too, of course. People here don’t only look for good, wholesome, tasty loaves; they look for nicely shaped ones, too. Our bakery has five members of staff; they start at 2 a.m. and work until 1 p.m. Saturday and Sunday are the busiest. They bake around 80 different types of bread; our customers value tradition and one of the most popular breads has strutto, lard and bacon bits, mixed into the dough.
We often get requests to expand our production facilities or to set up branches abroad, but we always say no. Why? Because quality is a thing of value, a thing that can only be achieved through wholesale dedication and concentration on the essentials. There is no such thing as mass-produced quality.