Pasta Martelli

In the old Via San Martino, at the end of the 1800s, there was a small pasta factory owned by the Catelani couple. Many people of Lari worked there, including two young fatherless boys, Guido and Gastone Martelli. After years of sacrifice, the reward: close to old age and without heirs, the Catelanis left the business to their most loyal employees. In 1926, the two brothers became the owners of the pasta factory in which they grew up. With the help of Beppina and Dina, their two tireless wives, they carried on the business, going through the extremely difficult Second World War period, marked by misery and ration cards. Thank goodness that tenacity was not lacking!

The family business continued smoothly until 1967, when a new law required the exclusive use of durum wheat and the obligation to package and seal the pasta in individual packages. A true revolution for manufacturers used to selling loose pasta to consumers. What’s more, the post-war boom was followed by a long period of economic crisis. Industrialize or fold up: there seemed to be no other choice. Many Italian pasta factories closed their doors, but not the Martellis. With great courage, the brothers Mario and Dino with their wives Valeria and Lucia faced the new market without giving up their artisan identity. How? By sacrificing quantity, to focus on quality.

Giorgio Onesti was the first to grasp that handicraft activities and small shops were a potential market niche for people who are not satisfied with the unbridled industrial productions but appreciate and seek out the value that the best raw materials, time and passion add to what is brought to the table. Paolo Massobrio, renowned journalist and food critic, remembers him as “a visionary and an innovator; the originator, in Italy, of a real revolution. He is the person who put together small farmers and artisans with small grocery stores, effectively creating the boutique of taste”.

Thanks to the valuable advice of Giorgio Onesti, a true friend of our family, our pasta factory sprung over the regional boundaries and became known throughout Italy. The famous yellow package was born: rustic like the ancient straw paper, golden like the wheat ripened under the Tuscan sun. The choice made years ago repaid the sacrifices and revealed itself in all its strength: our admirers grew from year to year.

Today, three generations of Martellis celebrate together ninety years of business, confident in the future and honoured to give lustre to the name of Lari. A feeling reciprocated by the community and acknowledged on the occasion of this milestone with an important decision: to rename the home of the pasta factory from Via San Martino to Via dei Pastifici, or Via of the Pasta Factories. An award that celebrates the last, proud representatives of a noble and ancient art.

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