The story of the Di Martino’s, owners of the namesake pasta factory for over 100 years, goes hand in hand with their astonishing passion for pasta
As for all the stories, this one too has its own main characters, starting from the forefather of three generations of pasta makers: Giuseppe Di Martino. Due to financial difficulties, Giuseppe started to learn how to make the ‘white gold’ when he was a child. In 1907, when he was just 10, he started to work in a pasta factory whose owner didn’t have sons to hand down his experience. Soon Giuseppe became ‘chief of short pasta’. When the owner understood that he could trust him, he decided to leave him his factory. Hence in 1912 Pastificio Di Martino was born and then, as well as nowadays, it was the first pasta factory to welcome people entering Gragnano. Surrounded by streets, with no direct neighbours around it, it looked like an island.
Conquering the world
At that time pasta was still sold unpacked, wrapped into a typical blue paper marking the entire product category. It was then used to be sold into tin boxes or, more often, in wooden boxes, inside which it could then be shipped abroad. Gragnano’s geographical position has always fostered the transport of goods by sea, so in 1915 Pastificio Di Martino was the first one to cross Panama Channel, and its quality was already known by Italian emigrants in the US.
Soon Giuseppe Di Martino involved his younger siblings Vincenzo and Francesco Di Martino, who supported him for a while, before starting to work on their own
The advent of fascism
During the fascist period, the pasta factory was forced to change its name in “Pastificio Impero”. Giuseppe Di Martino didn’t want to turn the sheafs of wheat into fasces, but had to agree to make the woman in the logo look more blonde and “Aryan”. During the war, many pasta factories had to cope with heavy consequences. Castellammare di Stabia was a military shipyard and Gragnano became a strategic place for supplies. Unfortunately bombing didn’t spare the factory, while German troops badly plundered it not to leave anything to the Allies. That’s why, for one week, the Di Martino’s were forced to feed themselves with the pieces of pasta stucked in the beams on the floor.
In 1944 Giuseppe Di Martino introduced two of his six sons in the company: Giovanni and Gaetano, aged 16 and 11 respectively. He wanted them to cut their teeth just like he did in the past. Giovanni fostered the sale of Di Martino pasta in Rome and Milan, while his only sister run the family factory for a while, before moving to Naples.
After the war
In 1948 the logo underwent a surname change, which was turned into the correct “Di Martino”. During the fifties, instead, Napolina, a brand used for export purposes but then sold and existing so far, was launched. Giuseppe modernized the machines of the production cycle and decided to involve his other two sons, Valerio and Vincenzo.
Giuseppe Di Martino had a dynamic personality. He founded an ante-litteram biodynamic company. In 1961 his son Giovanny sadly died. Giuseppe run the pasta factory until 1972, while Gaetano had become chief of production, Valerio dealt with the administration and Lucio managed the sales sector.
They were hard times, due to the energy crisis and its consequent strikes. This affected the Di Martino’s too, who had always had a solid relationship with their employees, respecting them as much as if they were part of their family. During those years, Giuseppe Di Martino went back to personally manage production together with his family. He died in 1977 and worked up to a few days before his death.
The earthquake and the reconstruction
In 1980 a terrible earthquake tested hard company’s resilience, but its second generation proved to face the restoration of the building with tenacity and courage. After just six months, indeed, Pastificio Di Martino restarted its production, hence dominating the scene in Gragnano.
In 1983 the Di Martino’s built the first wing of the new pasta factory, by investing pretty more than what they could afford and giving it an avantgarde structure.
Once this hardship was over, the highly sensitive and symphatetic Valerio Di Martino specialised himself in the administration field, by managing the relationship with suppliers and employees. Also, over the years he developed significant skills in the selection of semolina; a key role which made him be committed to the very birth of pasta. The strong personality of his meticulous brother Gaetano, whose scented passions have always been pasta and sea, has soon made he become the new point of reference in the pasta factory and the keeper of the drying tecniques secrets. Due to his love for mechanical, he was in charge to supervise the assembly of any new machinery. The sensitivity of the two siblings has been essential to the achievement of the high quality standards distinguishing Pastificio Di Martino
An ongoing mission
After more than 100 successful years, Giuseppe and Giovanna Di Martino are the third generation of pasta makers and run the family business with the same passion, based on the values of quality, craftsmanship, innovation and promotion of their territory and its culture.