There was once a time when most towns in Italy had a small pastificio (pasta factory) at their heart. The Tuscan town of Lari still does. In fact, the factory in the shadow of the ancient castle hasn’t really changed that much at all.
Growing up working in their local pasta factory, Guido and Gastone Martelli took it over in 1926. With the help of their wives, they turned the business into a real success, and the Martelli family are still at it today.
We searched them out to taste their famous pasta and share it on these pages.
Bigger isn’t better
Despite huge changes across the decades, Martelli has remained a small artisan producer, firm in their belief that quality is more important than quantity. Now their yellow paper packaging is famous across Italy and around the world.
They’re proud to say that what they make in a year, an industrial pasta factory can make in five hours. Because the family know that when you rush pasta, you lose the taste.
Less is more
The family business decided to stick to a few simple staples. They know that most people don’t want to experiment with odd shapes and new recipes – they have a repertoire of recipes that depend on the most popular shapes like penne and fusilli.
And Martelli have really mastered them. Italians don’t like to overcomplicate, and this enterprising family show us the incredible results of that philosophy.
The famous yellow packet
As Italians, we know Martelli is a real staple. No kitchen cupboard should be without a packet or six. And thanks to the distinctive yellow paper packaging that represents the golden colour of ripening wheat, the pasta is a common sight across Italy.
It wasn’t always that way though. Before a new law in 1967, pasta was never sold in individual packets, just loose. With big economic changes at the same time, pasta factories all over Italy closed their doors for good, unable to adapt. Luckily for us, Mario, Valeria, Dino and Lucia, the generation in charge of Martelli during this difficult time, knew they had to create something distinctive for their family business to survive.
Here to stay
Martelli has found its niche, focusing on artisan pasta using the best possible raw materials. The business has been a mainstay of the community in Lari for over 90 years and looks set to continue for years to come. Three generations of the family work in the ancient building.
What was once a local staple has become an artisan product exported all over the world. We love seeing the yellow packet in our kitchen cupboards - it’s a sunny reminder that there’s always something delicious for dinner.