the Life around the Loaf

Everyday bread can be Extraordinary. I am a baker and good-bread-seeker with a particular interest in Sourdoughs (see first post for explaination) but also a general interest in Life and Happiness and the role bread can play in it.

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Il Forno di Calzonari, Bologna

Today, the shop of the bakery I'll be visiting on Thursday. I met the baker and proprietor Matteo Calzonari at the Pasta Madre convegno, where he gave a presentation on his business's involvement in the organisation of local, organic producers called MontagnAmica. He and his forno are located in Monghidoro, 30km South of Bologna, but every morning half of the bread is driven into the city to his other shop in Via delle Fragole (Strawberry Street, next to Raspberry Road: Via dei Lamponi).

Matteo and his wife Stefania, who runs the shops, sell – as well as bread, pizza, biscuits and stffed fresh pasta – local, organic wine and beer, cold meats, milk, cheese, jam and ready-to-eat pasta sauces. Information about Organic (Biologico) certification is displayed on a music-stand, and every product, including bread, has a handwritten tag giving the the ingredients and their origin. The choice of breads changes from day to day: today, there's one dotted with hazelnuts. The speciality breads are popular enough that people come by to ensure that they'll get a loaf from tomorrow's farro – spelt – mix. At the same time as being convincingly 'organic', this shop feels modern, in being clean, light and warm. Whilst stressing the goodness of the produce, the didactic shop display gives an explanation of what's good about the bread and a big, stunning photo of a Munghidoro field of wheat.

Everyone who comes in for their pane quotidianale pauses after they've got their bread and asks for una fettina -a little slice- of this, un'assagio (a taste) of that or un pochino of the other. The shop's quite small and the warm air smells not only of bread, but chocolate, toasted nuts and seeds, biscuits, honey and lots of other temptations. Alessia, the girl behind the counter, tells me that people seek out this bakery because it's unusual in its holistic approach, then they keep coming back because of the quality of the bread. Seeing one of the shop's older regulars approaching, Alessia runs to put a chair by the counter for him, and he stays for a good half an hour - I talk to him and discover that coming here is the highlight of his day. He stays for half an hour, tells me about his wife who can't leave the house, his wooden leg, his child and grandchild who died, his few surviving siblings from a family of ten. While Alessia brings him his bread and pasta, putting it in his bag for him, I try to think of something more positive to talk about. What's the secret to his longevity? “Eat little, but eat well. If you eat this bread, you eat well.”


  1. In the picture above on the left, what are the eyes that hover mysteriously between the two figures?

  2. a mystery shopper, of course!


Madeleine (Dilly) Boase