A project of excellence

The Giotto Bakery – the bet we won
by Fabio Marzari

We spoke with Matteo Concolato about the Giotto bakery shop, a social project initiated by the correctional institute of Padova, west of Venice.

The pasticceria has long been an important, renowned business in the world of high-end bakery and has been working on their products following the best of Italian tradition. Their top product is the panettone, recognized as one of the best money can buy. Concolato is the head baker at Giotto.

Your line-up
We have it all, really, though over the last several years, our flagship products have been large holiday breads, like Christmas panettone and Easter colomba. We list nine panettone varieties, from the traditional classic to the chocolate-filled, the hazelnut and cherry, to the more experimental peach, apricot, and lavender or the tangerine, ginger, and jasmine. We are artisanal bakers, and it takes 72 hours to bake one piece. It all starts with a first dough: flour, yeast, yolk, butter will be ready by 11am for a good night of proofing. On the next morning, at 4am, raisins, candied fruit, sugar, butter, and more egg are added to the dough, which will further prove another seven hours. After that, you get to the actual baking, which takes one hour and is low-temperature. The bread will next spend 12 hours stored upside-down. We are very proud of our panettone and we are proud that people notice how good it is. We give it our all and use only the best ingredients for the best results.

The bakery
Our shop is within the prison. 48 inmates currently work in the shop. I walk in every day, as do other outside professionals and the psychologist who monitors the inmates’ progress. We are a great team, even with a high turn-over since people always come and go. Since January, 29 team members joined on a total of 48, which is a lot. From one year to the next, they may all change. Our team come from all different parts of the world. Over my nine years here, I met people of the most diverse age and extraction.

Your relationship with team members
We share our knowledge with them. With our presence and our professionalism within a correctional institute, we help inmates to rebuild their lives through work. This is the way we help these people. Work means knowledge and rules. Our first shift starts at 4am, the last ends at 5pm. We adapt our working hours to prison life, obviously, but it works.


Back to the panettone…
We have been baking them since 1990, so you could say we are quite the experts now. It all boils down to keep quality high, no matter what. We brought a high-quality production process to the bakery, though our biggest challenge is to make people passionate about what they do. Some of our newly-entered staff may think what makes me go through security and fourteen armoured gates every day to work with them, but in the matter of days, they understand that this is important, it is a mission, and in turn they begin to love their growing ability to make something beautiful. We picked the panettone as our flagship product due to the impossibility, back when we began, to assure constant, year-round access to the bakery, which prompted us to work on seasonal, shelf-stable bakery. The biggest challenge in our work is to uproot the prejudice of prison-made goods being of lesser quality. Excellent professional bakers helped us with that: Lorenzo Chillon has been working with us since the beginning. Ascanio Bozzetti, who worked as a baker for the Alajmo Group for twelve years, co-ordinates our fresh pastry shop.

Matteo Concolato
I have been working at Giotto for nine years, after a long experience in some of the best bakeries in Padova. I treasure my experience in those historical shops, and I used all of it in my work at Giotto. I am confident we will expand to Milan soon. After all, Milan is where the panettone was born. Our outlet is, coincidentally, in via Milano in Padova, where one can buy our freshly-baked goodies.

How do you pick your staff?
Inmates who had their sentence finalized can apply to work with us. Prospective staff are interviews by a psychologist and, if approved, will be trained for six months. If all goes well, they will be hired under a standard labour contract, like everyone else in the country. To give economic value to labour is essential to the inmate’s rehabilitation.


The best panettone of the Italian tradition