In Gravina in Puglia, Italy, the Divella Group has unveiled their new concept La Bottega delle Eccellenze, concerning a new food and wine segment marketed with a genuine gourmet vocation.
The Divella family’s branch from Gravina has been producing durum wheat pasta since the early 20th century with the Pasta Diva brand, the first pasta from Puglia to be exported to the United States.
The story began with Francesco Divella, who built his first mill to grind grains in Rutigliano, a small rural town in the area of Bari, reaching to the beautiful city of Gravina in Puglia, in the heart of Bari’s Murgia area and the Alta Murgia National park.
Here, to the music of a famous song sung by the Italian music diva of the time, Nilla Pizzi, Salvatore Divella was already bringing his pasta to the world in the early 1950s.
Nowadays, the family’s fourth generation is running the Group, an established production and distribution business that faces challenges both on the Italian and international markets.
La Bottega delle Eccellenze is housed in an old, noble residence that has hosted high fashion for decades. The inaugural night was attended by the latest winner of Masterchef Italia, Francesco Aquila, and TV host and journalist Pierluigi Pardo. From high fashion to premium cuisine.
Christian Divella, CEO of the Divella Group, tells us about his project:
We have decided to pursue a tradition of elegance, with bespoke, handmade products. With the world running so fast, the pandemic has made us rediscover the worth of our old Bottega. We have given it a contemporary refresh, but we have retained its cornerstones. Whereas the focus has always been on showing how to sell, we have felt the need to show how to purchase by guiding customers to buy responsibly.
What is responsible purchasing to the Divella Group?
Responsible purchasing means being mindful of environmental sustainability, raw materials and all the ingredients that make one product stand out from any other. A claim that has been with us since 1922, when our story began here.
Made in Italy only, with a special focus on Apulia’s locally sourced products
The pandemic has hit hard on us, and amongst other things, it has showed how living a positive lifestyle, exercising regularly and eating healthy has helped fighting off the virus. For this reason, as producers and distributors, we now have a duty to only market products that protect the consumers’ health. We cannot be exempt from this, and we are obliged to correctly inform our customers, who are luckily much more informed themselves than before.
What is it like to be a long-running business on today’s market?
History always has its weight, and if a company manages to remain in the business for so many years, it must mean that it has not worked so poorly after all, and that consumers acknowledge its quality and reliability. History gives recognition, true, but it cannot be enough.
The world keeps moving and evolving, and organizations need to evolve and innovate at the same pace – even be ahead of it, if they can.
One of the display cases in the entrance gallery of our Bottega showcases objects that symbolize the path we have walked so far over an almost century-long history; we have set it up this way in order to remember it, but we have to move on from there every day, and never stop.
What markets are you active on?
Our group works in different areas. For what concerns distribution, we have an extensive network of retails stores of different sizes, mostly here in Puglia and especially in the Murgia area, which I think will be key to the food, wine and environmental tourism of the region thanks to its many authentic excellences.
Pasta Diva: excellent quality
Production is undergoing a real revolution. In 2022, together with my father Salvatore and my uncle William, we will be relaunching our historical “Diva” brand, and pasta will see a new youth for its excellent quality, which the market has been familiar with and appreciated since the beginning of the past century.
We also produce high-quality semi-finished bakery products, and after just a couple of years, they have already reached almost all European countries. For a few months now, we have been marketing a high-end selection of locally-sourced preserves, fruits and vegetables, thoroughly selected from our region’s best, and already available around the world.
Caring for local areas – what does it mean to you?
Living in a certain area and feeling close to it strongly identifies you. As we all know, Apulia flaunts premium food and wine products, and we are so proud of that, but that also gives us much responsibility.
The appeal of Made in Italy cannot be disregarded, and this is why we pay so much attention to the origin and quality of the raw materials we use on every product, and to selecting products for our retail stores.
We closely watch the production process that is behind the products we select; it is no coincidence that we share this rationale with our partners in the selection process.
The same applies to what we produce in-house. In our retail stores, and especially in our Bottega, only the best of our beautiful Italy can be found, although we do not disdain premium products from the rest of the world – for example, Wagyu beef, New Zealand salmon, or the most varied types of exotic fruits – while always staying true to our principles.
Respect for the environment
Like it or not, your land is what you spread around the world. Respect for the environment, and partnerships with those who are on the same page.
What are your next projects?
Promoting healthy dieting, and giving it all we have. This is why we have developed our in-house D-Academy, to give consumers guidance on choosing the right products for their recipes with the help of our chefs and a biologist nutritionist.
Besides revamping our “Pasta Diva” brand in the year of its centenary, we are about to open a new site that will become an authentic production hub. The supply chain will be key. We will only use preservative-free local flour and ingredients. Our new plant will also include training and research areas, and we will be regularly collaborating with universities.
La Bottega delle Eccellenze is a format to export
La Bottega delle Eccellenze is a format that we would like to export, by repeating what we have done in Gravina to offer the same engaging experience (as visitors have described it) you live when you enter this enjoyable return to the past, with a look to the future.
Meanwhile, the best from our selections is already available for purchase, as we wait to physically reach everyone – because nothing could ever replace a scent, a music, a feeling experienced first-hand.