Panettone Town

It always smells like Christmas in Pinerolo. Whatever the month, visitors to this little Piedmontese town 30 miles southwest of Turin are greeted by the season’s essential olfactory cues as soon as they arrive—baking spices, candied fruit, the slow rise of buttery dough. These seem to be in the very pores of the place, and it’s no wonder: Since 1922, Pinerolo has been home to Galup, a bakery-factory that specializes in northern Italian enriched breads, an operation that defines this small town—from its aroma to its employment options.

It is mid-November, and the area’s smaller bakeries have just begun their year’s and ) year-round, though as elsewhere, the fall sees their production skyrocket in anticipation of the holiday season. Head of packaging, Ombretta Sana, tells me they are now making up to 6,000 loaves each day, which is set to increase to 10,000 in December. (Galup’s workforce, usually 25, triples between September and February.) As I wander around the factory, the uniformed workers in white hair nets move hurriedly at each stage of the production line, from mixing to wrapping, giving the place a Santa’s workshop kind of mystique.

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