Posted by: Debra Kolkka | December 15, 2020

Pasta made in a castle in Italy

Martelli Pasta has been made in the castle in Lari in northern Tuscany since 1926. It claims to be the only pasta made in a castle in Italy and probably the world.

My friends and I visited Lari before the current restrictions. It is a tiny hilltop town in the Province of Pisa. The town has Etruscan roots and dates from the 8th century BC. The castle dominates the hilltop. (Photo Wikipedia)

 

We found a carpark near one of the old entrances and walked the short distance to the top, following the wall of the castle. Because of Covid we could not go into the main part of the castle.

A road circles the wall around the central part of the castle. The whole town would once have been circled by the outer wall.




At the end of a tiny laneway, Via dei Pastifici, is the entrance to Martelli pasta factory. There were once 2 pasta factories in this lane, which is called a “ruga”, meaning wrinkle. It really is a narrow lane.


For a long time there were 2 factories, the Pastificio Catelani and the Pastificio Meini, which ceased production in the early 1950s. Both business supplied only the local market.

Pastificio Catelani employed many people from Lari, including 2 fatherless boys, Guido and Gastone Martelli.  Close to old age, and without heirs the Catelani left the business to their 2 loyal employees and in 1926 the brothers became the owners of the factory.

Even though the Martelli factory is small it now sells its pasta all over Italy and several countries around the world, while still using the traditional method of production.

Our friendly guide met our small group outside the door to the factory and explained what we would be seeing. There is not much space inside and covid restrictions make it necessary to keep a distance.

The pasta dough is made using only durum wheat semolina and cold water kneaded slowly in small batches. It is then pushed through bronze dies to give the pasta the required shape.




It is then dried slowly at a low temperature, cut to size and later packaged in the distinctive bright yellow Martelli packaging.



Larger factories use Teflon dies and higher drying temperatures to speed up the process. The bronze dies and cool temperature mean the pasta will have a rougher surface, which helps the sauce cling to it.

Here is a list of countries Martelli pasta goes to.

After our tour we wandered around the town and bought some pasta to take home at a store in the centre.




Naturally all this talk of pasta made us hungry. We had lunch at  Il Rosso della Paola in Via Belvedere, just outside the town centre. The service was friendly and helpful and the food was delicious, traditional fare cooked and presented very well.




The countryside around Lari is pretty.


Along with the interesting story of the pasta and an excellent lunch it made for a great day out. Thank you to Raffaela and Stephen for the research and driving.

http://www.famigliamartelli.it


Responses

  1. Wonderful to see where this fantastic pasta comes from and how it is made. A story of what makes real quality!

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    • The pasta is excellent. I think I have seen it in Brisbane. I will certainly be looking out for it in the future.

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  2. What a fun outing with your friends, never heard of Lari, even I had travelled a lot in the Tuscany, back than, seems to be a real gem, how wonderful that this pasta company is still in business. Thank you always for sharing, Debra.

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    • I had not heard of it either, but I am very happy we went there. I will return when the castle is open.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Excellent, Debra!

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  4. Thank you for the interesting post. I have not seen that pasta sold anywhere, but I shall look for it.

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  5. Found it! Amazon sells it online.

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    • I’m sure you will like it. I think I have seen it at the market where I shop in Brisbane. I will be looking once I get home.

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  6. This looks like such an interesting experience, and tasty too!

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  7. Hi Deb,

    I hope you are well. Any plans for Christmas?

    I really enjoyed your latest post, the ancient town is beautiful and so well preserved and the pasta factory very interesting. Comforting in a way that something so simple is done so well. I loved the good story of the fatherless brothers!!!

    Look after yourself and stay safe in all the madness! At least the orange turd will soon be gone👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼

    Best love, Jxx

    Sent from my iPhone

    Like

    • I will be having lunch with Tina on Christmas Day. We are not sure yet whether restaurants will be open. If not it will be at Tina’s place. She is one of the first people I met when I came to Bagni di Lucca 17 years ago.

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  8. Guess what I will be trying to buy in Brisbane today, although all Martelli pasta will have sold out after everyone has read your post. Wish we had Il Rosso della Paola here as your lunch selections look great. The walk around Lari was interesting & love the way even narrow walkways have beautiful pots of colourful flowers. Happy Christmas Debra
    perhaps you can show your Italian Christmas menu am sure it will be lovely.

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    • I hope you have a wonderful Christmas. I think ours will be cold and wet, the rain seems well and truly set in. We are not sure if restaurants will be open here yet. If not I will be having lunch at my friend Tina’s house.
      Lari is a sweet little town and beautifully kept. I will definitely go back when the castle is open. Lunch was great, and I would go back there too.

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  9. Another interesting post. I will be looking for this brand in Melbourne. I do cook a lot of pasta and sometimes make my own and also potato gnocchi. Lari looks like an interesting town to visit and so pretty. Have a Merry Christmas and stay safe.

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  10. Fabulous food.

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  11. I think I’ve seen this brand of pasta when I was in Italy. What a great story behind it! 😀 Thank you for showing it to us Debra!

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  12. Looks delightful. We have been making homemade pasta on weekends occasionally just to add some spice to our lives. I would love to visit this place! The food looks extraordinary!

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