Discovering gastronomic specialties means telling stories. The stories of the men who produced them. This is what they try to do Davide Rampello, profound connoisseur of the food and wine excellences of our country as well as ambassador in the world of Made in Italy, and Stefano Merlo, creator of successful startups with important backgrounds in the financial and digital fields, thanks to the project Great Italian Shop, the Community of exclusive producers gathered in an agricultural network, which will bring the best of our tradition to the tables of Italians.
How the idea was born
"This story began after my trip to Basilicata – explains Stefano – where I met many young farmers, passionate about their work but with the need to make their products known. Back in Milan, I asked Davide for support in order to be of help to people like the young Lucanians, with so much enthusiasm and courage but few means. His answer was an immediate yes. And so I came across Luigino, a farmer from a small village to the right of the Po, who, after having collected on his property 24 of the 33 native cattle breeds in extinction, he sought help for their livelihood. In that somewhat dilapidated structure but with a harmonious atmosphere, Luigino called each of his cows by name. We decided to help him produce hay milk products. Together with our partner Luigi Barbarini, who is the administrator and owner of the Mondo Piccolo farm, today we produce 9000 wheels of the highest quality Parmesan using the milk of Luigino cows. The peculiarity of this business model is a mixed model . The capitalization of Davide's meetings in ten years of knowledge of the territory and the creation of a digital platform have meant that now 40 producers of high quality Italian agri-food specialties have networked and can make themselves known thanks to Grande Bottega Italiana. «The food market – continues Stefano – is full of excellences organized in noteworthy structures. But there you go shopping. With us, on the other hand, a desire is refined, which is a different thing. The desire comes from experience and to gain experience you need to be informed, know the product and interact with the producers. Our goal is to form a community between producers, breeders and consumers, who make taking care of things their lifestyle. Let him do things with feeling .
The true value of Grande Bottega Italiana
The Italy discovered by Davide and Stefano is the land of extensive culture, where the farmer is a craftsman, because he is the scholar of agrarian ars: all his work is sustainable by definition, the concept of circular economy, of not waste is inherent in his art. Within this deeply ethical vision, where there is the true and profound meaning of the search for the good, the just and the beautiful, there is a whole world to be put together and valued. "More than products, we talk about men's stories – explains Davide. We tell of all the Mario Rossi, the Gioacchino Rossini who produce a given food. We tell the dreams, the hopes, the misfortunes: today this is the true value, to tell and make known the stories of all these men and women .
The focus of Grande Bottega Italiana is given by extra virgin olive oil, Parmesan and tomato, but the idea is to extend Italian biodiversity to all. «We wanted to wait for the right moment to present our project – says Davide – once we were sure that everything was in place. La Grande Bottega Italiana was born with this sensitivity, it is no coincidence that we talked about sentiment. If there is one thing that has been diluting a lot in recent years, it is precisely the concept of feeling, of feeling, the concept of remembrance, of memory. And our start up was born to tell these stories. We need to understand what we need: food is fine, food, but all this is to create a network that is an added value for women and men who must be supported, who must be made known. We also speak of small municipalities, many of which are in the process of being abandoned. This depopulation implies hydrogeological degradation, it is a single chain. The reasoning that prompted us to create this company started from this type of vision, from this sensitivity. Knowing all the variations of a territory means being able to preserve them, not forget them. From the word flavor comes the word know, the root is the same. If we lose flavors, we lose knowledge. This is exactly what we wanted to communicate to you ".
The Night Oil
Pier Luigi Cresciutini is a farmer from Viterbo who had a vision. In its territory, in Montefiascone, it has discovered the existence of over 100,000 abandoned olive trees, many of which have already been incorporated into the woods. Pier Luigi decided to save them. "It is clear that working on an olive tree that is becoming wild – explains Davide – means applying a completely different pruning system from the usual one, it is necessary to give back life to the plant. Luigi also devised a pruning system suitable for this and set up a school to teach young people this new practice. He then had the intuition to harvest the olives at night, to avoid oxidation caused by the sun and thus give even more value to the oil. The olive is then harvested and pressed in the shortest possible time. This leads to an increase in polyphenols for oil of 20-25%, one fifth more than usual values. We decided to help Pier Luigi by selling his oil, and everything he did is part of that story that makes everything a bit magical ".
The olive that tastes of medlar
And to better tell the stories of all the farmers who are part of Stefano and Davide's project, it cannot be omitted to say that among the olive trees recovered by Pier Luigi, there is also a type that is only found within the city of Viterbo. The olive it produces, very large, was intended to be pressed but also eaten. It is a very particular fruit: due to the way it was cultivated, and today it is at least 700 years old, it does not taste like artichoke, grass or thistle, but fruit, medlar. It is unique that is found only in this part of Italy. For every liter of oil sold, Pier Luigi manages to recover a plant. A good starting point, no doubt!
What Grande Bottega Italiana offers
Among the many products of Grande Bottega Italiana there are the Sapori and Sapere boxes, a set of useful references for the creation of a dish. An example is the Tricolore Box: pasta, Parmigiano Reggiano, tomatoes and oil for a magnificent portion of pasta. «The past is made by Beppe Vessicchio, the conductor – explains Stefano – who in Sarno experimented with a cultivation method that is that of musical frequencies, in order to work on the molecular harmonies of San Marzano tomatoes. And then bronze drawn Gragnano pasta and extra virgin olive oil from various parts of Italy. Among the future projects, abroad and the territorial enhancement of some of the small Italian villages. From there, a network system of typical local activities will be triggered. We are only at the beginning! "