Our Selection of Tuscan Pasta: Martelli
Passion for terroir, for Italy’s gourmet heritage and its mosaic of local products, people and stories constitute Ventuno’s raison d’être. This means our portfolio of producers is the cornerstone to our work: every single item in a Ventuno Experience Box must speak of its home soil and history, meet the strictest quality standards, and tell a story that is integral to the tradition that nurtured it. We select boutique growers, niche products from organic crops, veritable ‘master craftsmen’ and craftswomen committed to Italian excellence.
There is a tiny, hilltop Etruscan village in the heart of Tuscany – Lari, near Pisa – where we find one such extraordinary family and history: Martelli, masters of pasta.
Masters of Pasta since 1926
To the gourmet seeking quality, small is beautiful. Small. Slow. Painstaking care to detail. So where better to begin than a tiny, hilltop Etruscan village in the heart of Tuscany – Lari, near Pisa? Or in a diminutive, distinctively yellow building sheltered within the walls of Lari’s medieval fortress? Here, you may fancy yourself immune from the passage of time; ready to perpetuate such timeless traditions as the ancient craft of artisanal pasta-making. Provided you are brave and determined enough to challenge today’s craze for quantity over quality, choosing the latter.
This was the case for Martelli, whose labor of love caters to a niche market of pasta cognoscenti, and whose business is entirely family-run to the strictest artisanal standards: a team of just eight master craftsmen and -women – all of them belonging to the Martelli family. From kneading the dough to packaging, every stage of the process is the polar opposite of industrial pasta-making: 50 hours’ meticulous labor to a single string of spaghetti; the equivalent – quantity-wise! – of five hours’ work for industrial pasta manufacturers, made by hand in one year.
The Vision & Perseverance in Martelli Pasta
It all began in 1926 – or did it? The seeds of the Martelli story were sown decades earlier – when Guido and Gastone Martelli, barely out of their teens, lost their father and started an apprenticeship with local pasta makers, signor & signora Catelani. The brothers grew into master craftsmen, turning necessity into passion, then into their life’s work. When the Catelanis retired, they decided to reward the siblings for their loyalty and dedication to the craft, gifting them with the business.
Challenging years lay ahead: WWII, then the Sixties and Seventies, when most artisanal pasta makers were wiped out by large-scale major players. Generation #2, Mario & Dino Martelli, with the respective wives, chose to persevere and pursue the quality route, forgoing quantity. Another turning point came in the 1980s, when Giorgio Onesti, a pioneer in seeking artisanal delicacies and promoting them with the press, cognoscenti and boutique stores, discovered Martelli pasta and spread the word.
The family’s distinctive yellow packets then gradually found their way onto select shelves all over Italy and even world-wide, albeit maintaining strictly limited quantities and absolute craftsmanship. You will never find Martelli pasta in a large-scale retail store or a supermarket – only in the finest delis and Ventuno Experience Boxes.
Fun fact: Martelli is showcased in luxury designer Bottega Veneta’s recent “Bottega for Bottegas” campaign, aiming to highlight topflight Italian craftsmanship.
Martelli in our Tuscan Dinner Experience Box
Where can you find the unique texture and flavor of Martelli pasta? In our Tuscan Dinner Experience Box.
We have selected the family’s latest addition to the range, ‘fusilli di Pisa’, an ancient format going back to 1284 (just to give you an idea… not very far from Pisa, Dante was celebrating his nineteenth birthday the year a ‘pastaio’ called Peciolo came up with this particular pattern): a corkscrew-shaped pasta whose seven spirals mirror the seven floors of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, with a groove to each spiral to symbolize the tower’s sheltered walkway.
Semolina from the finest Tuscan durum wheat strains, ground at the historic Borgioli Mill in Calenzano, is mixed with pure, fresh water in a state-of-the-art kneading process that could proudly feature in… Dante’s Paradise.
Amazing pasta calls for the ideal sauce and perfect wine: We have paired the fusilli di Pisa with Caccia e Corte’s Chianina IGP Veal Ragù and Guicciardini Strozzi’s silky, ultra-seductive, ultra-Tuscan Sòdole IGT.