THE VALUES OF THREE GENERATIONS

Experience and devotion

Gragnano pasta has over 500 years of history behind it. Today's Pastificio G. Di Martino is built on the history of a family rooted in their territory and traditions and driven by genuine devotion and irrepressible passion. This translates into hard work, craftsmanlike precision, insistence on quality, perseverance against the odds, brilliant intuition and technological innovation that always cares about people and the environment.

The founder

As in all stories, that of the Di Martino family too has its heroes, starting with the progenitor of three generations of pasta makers: Giuseppe Di Martino. Due to his family's straitened circumstances, Giuseppe started to learn the secrets of "white gold" production when still a kid. In 1907, at the age of 10, he started work in a pasta factory whose owner had no sons to whom he could hand down his know-how. Giuseppe soon became a "master short pasta maker".

THE SECRETS OF WHITE GOLD

Pasta second only to heaven itself

Giuseppe Di Martino immediately understood the crucial importance of the pasta drying phase, whether outdoors in the streets of Gragnano (on special racks) or indoors, in special cells with steam powered ventilators and radiators to simulate the warmth of the sun. The drying process was in two stages. In the factory where Giuseppe Di Martino worked, there were two basic types of drying cell and every cell had a name reflecting its position: for example, O'Castellammare faced the town of that name, while the biggest was called San Carlo, like Naples' famous theatre.

The beginnings of the G. Di Martino pasta factory

Giuseppe Di Martino then became the "impastatore", ie. the factory's general manager. When the owner realized that Giuseppe was absolutely trustworthy, he transferred the company's capital stock to him. The G. Di Martino pasta factory thus came into being in 1912 when ownership of the former Cipolla-Lauritano establishment changed hands. The factory had three presses and ten drying cells and employed 70 or so people. In those days it was the first factory you saw on entering the town and occupied a whole block, like an island. It had its own, secret water supply. Chemical analyses carried out in the '70s showed that this water has a low mineral content, meaning it's not only light and pleasant to the palate but also facilitates mixing (because requiring less mechanical energy).

Winning over the world

Pasta used to be sold loose and then wrapped in the typical blue paper used throughout the entire product category. It was delivered either in tins or more often wooden boxes, in which it was also exported. In 1915, G. Di Martino was the first pasta to pass through the Panama Canal, because Italian immigrants in America were well acquainted with the quality of its pasta. Gragnano's location near the sea also facilitated intercontinental transport. Giuseppe Di Martino himself didn't travel much but he did dream of the exotic countries (Argentina, Venezuela and Brazil, as well as the United States) where his pasta was already in such great demand.

Giuseppe Di Martino soon brought his two younger brothers, Vincenzo and Francesco, into the business. The latter only worked for a short time, while the former helped with the management until he'd learnt the business well, but then left to make his own way in life.

IN THE FACE OF ADVERSITY

The advent of Fascism

In the 20-year Fascist period, the company was practically forced to change its name to "Pastificio Impero". Giuseppe Di Martino didn't want to turn the corn shocks in the logo into fasces lictoriae but he did make the female figure blonder and more "Aryan".

Many pasta factories were seriously damaged during the war. There were naval shipyards in Castellammare and Gragnano became a strategic supply centre. The bombing raids did not spare the Di Martino pasta factory, which was also sacked by German troops so nothing would be left for the advancing Allies. So for a week the Di Martino family had to scavenge for bits of broken pasta stuck between the floorboards to assuage their hunger.


In 1944 Giuseppe Di Martino brought two of his six children (Giovanni, 16, and Gaetano, 11) into the business, so they could start from the bottom as he had done. It was Giovanni who boosted sales of Di Martino pasta in Milan and Rome. Giuseppe's only sister managed the family bakery for a while before moving to Naples.

After the war

In 1948, the surname in the logotype was modified to give it the correct form, "Di Martino". In the '50s, the "Napolina" brand was created for export production but was later sold and is still used in the UK. Giuseppe modernized the production machinery and also involved his other brothers in the company, starting with Valerio and Vincenzo.

NEW CHALLENGES

Anema e core

Giuseppe Di Martino had a volcanic personality. What he had founded was a sort of bio-dynamic company, way ahead of its time. But in 1961 came the cruel blow of his son Giovanni's premature death, so he was forced to run the factory himself till 1972. In the meantime, Gaetano became production manager, Valerio head of administration and Lucio sales manager.

The Seventies

This was a difficult decade due to the energy crisis and the strikes that it triggered, this being all the sadder because the Di Martinos had been used to very close and trusting personal relationships with their employees, who were felt to be like relatives. Giuseppe Di Martino showed no hesitation in rolling up his sleeves and getting back down to production himself, alongside his sons. He died in 1977, having worked right up to a few days before his death.

An ongoing mission

Today, Giuseppe and Giovanna Di Martino, 3rd generation pasta makers, are perpetuating their predecessors' vocation and passion, guided by the values of quality, craftsmanship, innovation and devotion to their territory and its culture.