Rustichella d’Abruzzo was born in 1924 in Penne and today lucky clients from around the world can take part in training tours organized by the extraordinary gracious hosts Gianluigi and Maria Stefania.
Sheridans have been working with Rustichella for 20 years and it was a great privilege to take part and get a better understanding of the company history and products. Our program started with a visit to one of the local stars of Abbruzzo gastronomy: “la Bilancia” Restaurant. Highlights included the local charcuterie, Spaghetti Senatore Cappelli with courgette flowers, pasta party games and a visit to the impressive charcoal grills and traditional kitchen.
We were greeted the following morning at our hotel in Loreto Aprutino with extraordinary views across Abruzzo. Then we were off for a visit to the new factory opened in 1998 in Moscufo, where the indefatigable Giovanni presented the selling points of Rustichella and afterwards the history of the family business was outlined by partners Gianluigi and Maria Stefania.
Following an agreeable lunch of freshly prepared Primograno range pastas and sauces including an intriguing and recent addition to the range of a blue Paccherini destined for top restaurants we were able to visit the modern factory. During the visit we were able to observe firsthand all the different steps of long and short cut pasta production from the mixing and extrusion through the brass dyes, through the slow drying process and on to the packaging of the final product ready for shipping.
Following the visit, we were happy to get outdoors and stroll through the olive trees adjoining the factory. This was a good introduction to the second part of the day about olive oil tasting for which the Abruzzo region is justly famous. We visited an ancient olive press (used for lighting fuel) and learned about the production and tasting of Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
Saturday morning was dedicated to local history and culture with two museum visits in the coastal town of Pescara where we visited the home of the “enigmatic” Italian Poet Gabriele d’Annunzio and the local history museum where we able to explore the local region through the ages and an in-depth discovery of the local shepherds and traditional cheesemaking.
Later in the afternoon we visited the fields of St. Caterina where Rustichella grow their wheat for the Primograno range to participate in a seminar on local wheat varieties given by Gianluigi, the President of Rustichella. We learned of the influence on wheat varieties by ancient colonization from Greece, the Phoenicians, North Africa and the East, all of whom brought their own wheat.
In the evening, we dined in a traditional local fish restaurant ‘Da Carmine’ and were presented with our Premium Pasta Expert’ diploma by Fadel and Giovanni and then homeward bound. 😊
It was a great pleasure to discover the gastronomy, culture and people of Abruzzo and meet the family behind Rustichella that made the visit so memorable. We were able to get an insider’s view of artisanal pasta production and in the process make lasting contacts with a great group of fellow food professionals from all over Europe.