Voiello History

Voiello: a story of pasta and high quality

History of the premier Antico Pastificio Giovanni Voiello
Torre Annunziata – Naples


The roots of the Voiello family: in Switzerland or Campania?

Recent documentary studies have reconstructed the events relating to Giovanni Voiello and his family’s pasta factory. Legendary origins in Switzerland were once attributed to it, although they have never been definitively documented.
As a result of in-depth genealogical research by local scholars, a series of unpublished documents has emerged that have enabled us to reconstruct both the events of the Voiello family in Torre Annunziata, and the local movements of its leading exponents.
Therefore, the romantic (and unlikely) story of the Swiss man from Torre Annunziata, who came to Italy to build the railway and fell in love with the beautiful pasta maker, gives way to generations of pasta makers who select high quality on a daily basis so they can stand out.

Before the Voiellos: the Gaudiellos

Our story begins in Bracigliano, a little village in the Agro-Nocerino-Sarnese, where Emanuele Gaudiello was born on the cusp of the 18th century. We can consider him the forerunner of the Voiello dynasty, which has since undergone various transfers and incorrect transcriptions of registry entries.
Emanuele lived a normal life in this village, which focused on agriculture and farming. He married fellow villager Giovanna Testa, who gave birth to Felice Pietro Antonio Guadiello in 1742. In 1763, the latter married Santa De Luca, originally from Torre Annunziata (NA). The couple moved to Torre Annunziata, between the Mediterranean and the slopes of Vesuvius; the Bourbon Real Fabbrica d’Armi had just been opened there, where Felice was employed as a specialist technician. They went on to have two children: Teodoro Giuseppe Sabatino, born in 1764; Antonio Giovanni, in 1766.
A consultation of the registry entries around that time shows that, as a result of a mere typo, the surname Gaudiello disappeared for ever, to be replaced by Vojello. The author of the erroneous certificate was an official in the parish of Ave Gratia Plena in Torre Annunziata, Father Domenico Ammendola. When he was copying up the baptism certificate into the parish registry, he changed the surname of Teodoro Giuseppe Sabatino, based on his personal interpretation, from Gaudiello to Vojello. The same happened again in the baptism certificate of his brother Antonio Giovanni, also written up by the same priest.
Teodoro Voiello married Rachele Liucci in 1785; they had seven children, four of whom died young. Of the survivors, Felice Raffaele would go on to respect the family tradition by working in the Arms Factory, whereas Andrea Raffaele Antonio (1799-1829) found employment in the production of pasta. At that time, this sector was taking hold in Torre Annunziata, having – since the early 1600s – attracted the attention of the Viceroy’s government, especially in terms of the hydraulic force available on site. This power was exploited for milling purposes with the help of a canal, excavated from the Sarno river and designed by the architect Domenico Fontana. As a result of these hydraulics works, three mills had been built to grind grain for the Kingdom’s capital, which gave rise to milling and pasta businesses in Torre. Andrea started work there very young, to grasp the new opportunities on offer; he went on to develop a brilliant career.

Torre Annunziata and the pasta factory

Since the 18th century, Torre Annunziata had been the economic center of an area of towns and villages where pasta-making flourished: “the white art”, as it is still known in a limited area that includes the municipalities of Pagani, Castellammare, Cava dei Tirreni, Angri, Nocera, Gragnano and Scafati.
Actually, the production of dried pasta in the Naples region drew on more ancient roots. Back in the 13th century, Amalfi – like Genoa and Palermo – was already producing dried pasta to provide long-lasting food for their merchant navy.

But it was Ferdinand I who encouraged production that could be referred to as ‘industrial’ in that era. There were many reasons for this:
first of all, on economic grounds. The Kingdom of the Two Sicilies produced excellent durum wheat, especially in the Capitanata (now Puglia). Commercially, this foodstuff was not valued outside the kingdom, where it was consumed exclusively in the form of bread. It was freighted by sea, by means of a sizable merchant navy that connected the ports of Bari and Brindisi with Torre Annunziata.
The second reason was social. Until the time of Ferdinand I, pasta was a valuable product, with limited consumption. A large proportion of the population were vegetarian, eating broccoli in particular. The Neapolitans came to be known pejoratively as Mangiafoglia (‘leaf-eaters’). This type of food, as well as being poor in nutritional values, reduced the efficiency of a logistics system that was needed to supply a city like Naples. With its population of 450,000, it was then the largest urban concentration in Europe. The breadth of the market required increasingly distant crops, which raised transportation costs, resulting in poor, watery and perishable foodstuffs. Conversely, in addition to its greater nutritional properties, pasta was long-lasting and constituted a dry and much richer commodity.

The pasta-making industry that took shape in the Torre Annunziata area developed rapidly: the greater availability of product, the most widespread technology, the adoption of the press (or ‘ingenuity’ as it was called) and the use of family labor quickly lowered costs and dry pasta began to become more widespread.
Torre Annunziata had two major advantages: a vast, deep port where large merchant vessels could moor; fortunate exposure to the periodic alternations of sea and inland breezes. The former were hot and humid; the latter were dry and cold, as a foil.

Then, in 1822, Andrea Raffaele Antonio Vojello (1799-1829) married Maria Maddalena Ramirez; together, they had four children. The first was Teodoro (1822-1917) who as an adult went to work in the Arms Factory. He became embroiled in a long period of military conflicts, resulting in the downfall of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies in the 1860s. In 1851 he married Rosa Carotenuto, with whom he had four children. One of them was Giovanni (1859-1939). In the late 1860s, Teodoro decided to return to Torre Annunziata with his family, where the milling and pasta business had been developing at a rapid pace in the meantime and was employing large numbers of the local people. However, while restarting as a maccaronaro, his employment provided him with a greater understanding of larger enterprises. He went on to create his own, later pursued by his son Giovanni, who followed in the footsteps of the family’s pioneers, going back to Andrea decades earlier.

The Antico Pastificio Giovanni Voiello

Teodoro Voiello had inherited from his father a practical sense of entrepreneurship. He was tenacious and determined, and the business went on to prosper over time. In 1877, it was time to consider a real factory.
The important thing was to find the right place, where the wind was gentle but still sufficient for their purposes. A sheltered location that was not shut off, with sunshine but periods of shade, dry but not arid. To be a good pasta maker in those days, knowledge of grains was insufficient. They needed to know how to make and knead dough; they also needed to predict variations in humidity and wind temperature.
Teodoro and his son Giovanni, who was then 17 years old and was naturally working with his father, went off in search of the right location. Eventually, they found it: a vast plot of land in Contrada Maresca, in the northern part of the city. Two years later, in 1879, this was the site of what would become known in the future as the “Antico Pastificio Giovanni Voiello”.
From then on, the history and legend of this pasta factory would be identified with Giovanni. He went on to give the company and the product that precise high-quality physiognomy that has been transmitted down to the present day.
Back then, when such simple production methods were employed, there was a limited number of variables to act on to produce high-quality pasta. Indeed, there was only one fundamental: the quality of the grain. And Giovanni went in search of the best, which he found to be a strong and tenacious wheat, resulting in a gray semolina and a paste with surprising smoothness and tightness. Its cultivation began in the fertile, dark terrain of Ukraine, and took the commercial name of the port on the Sea of Azov where Anton Chekhov was born: Taganrog. Say this name to an old pasta maker and you’ll see a tear appear in their eye. So many legends and memories relate to this city.
The only family who imported this grain directly and made pasta with it were the Voiellos, as well as a pasta factory in Pontedassio, near Imperia on the Italian Riviera west of Genoa, which had its own fleet.
The journey from the Sea of Azov to Italy was not overly demanding, nor too long. One week was usually enough to cover the 1600 nautical miles of the route. Consignments of Taganrog wheat arrived in Torre Annunziata once a month. In 1917, Taganrog disappeared, having been uprooted and destroyed during the October Revolution. Today, all that remains of that wheat is memories, handed down as an ancient legend.
By that time, Giovanni was running the pasta factory. Teodoro soon realized how valuable this young man was, and sensibly gave him room to maneuver.
Giovanni Voiello’s pasta became a benchmark in terms of quality, and came to be known throughout the Naples region. The Neapolitan aristocracy and VIPs became clients of Giovanni Voiello’s. Likewise, Don Benedetto (yes, the philosopher Benedetto Croce) upon his return to Naples in 1892.
At that time there were five types of pasta in Italy, known in order of quality as Napoletana extra, Napoletana superiore, Napoletana comune, Locale superiore and Locale comune. They differed in their common wheat content. The durum wheat used in the mixture were common-or-garden Italian grains with no specific merit.
Conversely, Giovanni Voiello, made pasta with a mixture composed of equal parts of Taganrog and Saragolla, a fine wheat from Puglia. The former gave the pasta robustness and strength; the latter flavor and color.

The interwar period

On March 15th, 1896, Giovanni – who was 37 but remained single – met Concetta Manzo, daughter of Cosmo, the richest and most important grain merchant of Torre Annunziata, at the Naples premiere of La bohème at the Teatro San Carlo. They had a happy marriage, enlivened by their eight children: two sons, Attilio (1898-1980) and Teodoro (1906-1992), and six daughters.
In 1910 – the year of Halley’s comet – the Voiello pasta factory produced 3,000 tons of pasta. A respectable figure, considering that it was sold only at the Naples markets, and only to those who could afford it.
New machines had come into the factory, the best the Neapolitan mechanical industry had to offer at the time. The pasta factory managed to get through the crisis of World War I unscathed.
It was then impossible to make pasta with Taganrog wheat since its disappearance, so a decision was made to switch to Senatore Cappelli quality wheat mixed with Saragolla. And even at that point, Giovanni Voiello succeeded in maintaining his focus on quality.
In harvest season, he departed for Puglia to select his wheat, on a tour among growers. He shoved his hand into the sacks and pulled out a handful of wheat from deep inside. He carefully observed the mixture, separated it from the grain with his teeth and scrutinized how it broke up. He assessed the gloss, transparency, color, and shape, and checked that there were no impurities along the cleft. He rubbed a few grains forcefully between his fingers, then sniffed them. In the end, he was away testing the grains for an entire month. But when he returned, the best of Puglia’s production was his.
Under pressure from his son Attilio, Giovanni Voiello started taking part in international trade fairs. His first franchises also saw the light of day, in Turin and Bergamo, followed in the next few years by others in Milan, Brescia, Florence and Genoa: a limited yet important market.
Teodoro learned a great deal from his father, and he learned what he was unable to glean from Giovanni from the people who worked for them. He soon became a skilled pasta technician, a great connoisseur of grains and production processes. Much older pasta makers with more consolidated experience would often turn to him for advice. At the age of 75 in 1934, Giovanni was named a Commander of the Order of the Crown of Italy. He died peacefully in 1939.

From expansion to crisis

In 1926, when his second son Teodoro arrived at the factory after completing his military service, the pasta factory was producing 5,000 tons, which rose to its maximum capacity of 6,000 in 1930.
Teodoro was the first to tie the knot in 1936, followed by Attilio in 1940, just one year after his father had passed. And as the 1940s dawned, they took the big step of purchasing the La Stabiense mill and pasta factory in Castellammare di Stabia. There, they moved into milling, and later transferred the work of the old factory at Torre Annunziata, which had become too small and inefficient.
Teodoro dealt with the entire modernization of the machinery, which he commissioned from the Officine Reggiane. The financial commitment was enormous, but the banks had no issue providing the Voiello brothers with enough credit.
But their plans did not come to fruition: the war had arrived, and with it came destruction. The retreating Germans destroyed the machinery installed by Teodoro, and Allied bombs were dropped on the old factory at Torre Annunziata. This was a total and utter disaster, from which the Voiello brothers never recovered.
Postwar, they sold what remained of La Stabiense and repaired the bombed old factory with the proceeds. Compensation for war damages was eventually paid with a major delay and only to a negligible extent. They were dark times: there was no wheat, and the little there was was of poor quality.
Things began to improve in the 1950s, when the wheat resurfaced and Voiello restored the quality of the past. But something was broken: there was no more generational continuity. Attilio had only one daughter who graduated in architecture, and Teodoro one son, who decided to become an accountant.
Production had plummeted to 2,000 tons, then to 1,000, although the renown of the brand name had somehow been strengthened. It had become legendary. The production processes had to remain the same as they had once been; the wheat was transported in jute bags, by the same workers who went up and down the stairs between the factory’s three storeys. When people ate the pasta, they could once again experience the aromas and flavors of yesteryear.
The final difficulty was the onset in the 1960s of new large-scale retailers, the supermarkets. A myriad of small entrepreneurs suddenly found themselves needing to enter into dialog with purchasing professionals looking for efficient suppliers, sensitive to the needs of a rapidly changing society, open to new forms of sales. Before even being a matter of a clash of interests, communications proved utterly impossible.
Some entrepreneurs managed to transform themselves and adapt to the new retail structure, but most gave up or became producers on behalf of third parties.
Attilio and Teodoro resisted as long as they could, without ever accepting any compromises on quality. The only problem was that that quality was no longer viable with the old systems. The world was changing, at a very rapid pace. And when the world changes, it never feels the same again.

Recovery begins

The lifeline came in 1973, right in the midst of an economic crisis that was holding Italy in its grasp. It arrived in Campania from far away in Parma, in the form of a meeting with Barilla, which marked the beginning of Voiello’s recovery.
The Emilia-Romagna company took Voiello over, and assumed management of the Naples-based business. But it respected their autonomy and operational independence. At that point, the Voiello brothers remained members of the Board of Directors, taking the positions of President and Vice-President. However, they were assisted in the custodianship of the pasta factory and in the development of the brand and products by a new young and motivated management.
At Voiello, a modernization plan was needed: in production processes, in communications, and in the methods of pasta distribution.
The market was changing fast; Italy was vacillating between development and recession. In these conditions of great economic and social instability, the winning decision was to continue to focus on product quality, which even so did not remain untouched. It was reconciled with production efficiency and with emerging marketing techniques, to foster increasingly solid loyalty to the Voiello brand.
First of all, a new plant for the modern production of pasta was acquired and completed, built in 1970 in Marcianise, not far from Naples. A few years later, this site would become the new headquarters of the company Antico Pastificio Giovanni Voiello.
As a result of major technological investments in the late 1970s, the crucial threshold of 10,000 tons of pasta was passed, with widespread production and distribution in all of Italy’s supermarkets.
Production was “redesigned” and reorganized to be more logical, with dedicated lines and factories specialized in the manufacture of format families. The aim was to guarantee the offer of a complete range from the historic pasta factory, which continued to respect the tradition handed down by Giovanni Voiello.
The sales network was also enveloped by the winds of innovation. Modern customer relationship structures were created, to deal with the supermarket chains that were then experiencing major development. Other franchises were opened and experienced people faced up to the new reality of retail. But, above all, work was done on image: the identity of the Voiello brand was “reconstructed”, to rejuvenate its structure. The brand soon establish itself, with the help of advertising as a synonym of quality pasta throughout Italy. Unsurprisingly, the company broke one production and sales record after another, from one year to the next, driven not only by a favorable cycle of economic recovery, but also and above all by the widespread appreciation of Voiello quality.
Those were the years when television entered the homes of the Italian people, with cult broadcasts such as Rischiatutto (‘risk it all’). The medium helped to create a shared feeling, from Aosta in the Alps to Agrigento in southern Sicily, of paying attention to the brand as a choice to be made when shopping. The intrinsic quality of the product, the trust in the company and the perceived value were represented in effective slogans, jingles and testimonials, resulting in customer choice on the increasingly crowded shelves of modern supermarkets. Voiello’s advertising was structured as a story to be told. And the thread of history was the way to get people involved, and above all to take them by the hand as they did their shopping.
At that time, the packaging that came to be known as Rigatino was developed, with elegant vertical blue ribbing on a white background. It proved impeccable, like the pinstripe dresses designed by the best traditional couturiers of Naples.
In small steps and subsequent refinements, the new Voiello logo also came to be. The glorious name of the pasta was added to with the icon of the mask of the pasta-eating Pulcinella, with the unmistakable panorama of the Bay of Naples, and with Vesuvius and its plumes of smoke. An image of the coast from Gaeta to Amalfi that – thanks to its ideal climate to produce a perfect product – became part of the collective unconscious and of the imagination of its admirers, even becoming synonymous with Italian pasta.
A partnership with the historic advertising agency TBWA began in the 1970s. Its creatives came up with the everlasting Voiello slogan: “Dal 1879 la Grande Pasta di Napoli” (‘since 1879, the great pasta of Naples’). For almost three decades, it continued on several occasions to sum up the excellence of Voiello’s tradition of pasta-making:
it formed part of multiple campaigns and conventions, with the advantage of a range consisting of 104 traditional formats, produced with the best grains and all lovingly drawn using bronze dies.
And in 1978 the first national press campaign also arrived in the magazines: Voiello pasta was taking root outside the regional borders, ready to take over the entire country. It was set out to all Italian families, not only that “is more important than meat” to Neapolitan families, but also that Voiello’s was a real specialty: the result of a great respect for tradition, long experience and a sincere passion for their work.
Again in 1978, Voiello celebrated the birthday of Italian President Sandro Pertini, in its very own way. On September 25th, among best wishes to the most popular president among the Italian people on a visit to Naples, smoke could be seen rising from a pipe made of pasta in the pages of the major Italian newspapers.

The excitement of the 1980s

The new decade, brightened by Italy’s economic recovery, got Voiello thinking about progress, and about paying more and more attention to the science and technology of the ancient art of pasta-making. The three cornerstones of its development were scientific tension to improve quality, modernization of the plant’s lines, and the efficiency of logistics throughout the production chain, from field to fork.
The renewal, however, lay not only in the abstract. It went into the magic and purity of a product that continued to express the true pleasure of eating pasta. In the hedonistic ’80s, it was the response to the seemingly all-pervading desire for personal fulfillment and social gratification. These were the years of enthusiasm and joie de vivre, where satisfying taste and making guests feel good were in the imperative.
In such a lively scenario, product innovation was one of the points to be highlighted. For the first time, the ancient tradition of pasta was espoused with the modern design techniques. The challenge of getting his hands dirty was taken up by one of the masters of Italian design, Giorgetto Giugiaro (b. 1938). Hailing from Piedmont, he was already one of the most famous car designers in the world, having worked for the most important Italian and foreign automakers.
In 1983, he created a new pasta shape, exclusively for Voiello, designing it entirely according to Made in Italy canons of stylistic excellence, envied the whole world over. After a great deal of meticulous research, “Marille” came to be, as a sort of double, inverted rigatoni, the format of which seemed to have been refined in a wind tunnel, so much so that it was granted a patent, no. 36216B83. “The very low Cx favors its high digestibility”, “Its death lies in sauce made of Alcantara” were just two of the engineering-inspired and passionate comments made by the many publications that referred to the project. It was a genuine novelty: who had ever seen a designer create a pasta format?
The most sincere compliment to the Marille, an example of pure technology of food aesthetics, came from the designer himself: “I discovered a world I liked and can finally say now that I’ve… eaten the line!”
The ’80s were also the time when updated and innovative communications created the modern image of Voiello, taking up the spirit that continues to echo in the memory of many gourmets. Smiling, sober but sensual, rich and generous for its security in its intrinsic quality and awareness of its superiority of substance.
The investment in communications managed to consolidate the brand in a market that was changing. These were the years when the culture of good pasta needed to be reset and transferred using new media to an audience increasingly intrigued by the future and by fashion. The brand was guided in its choices more by the stimuli of advertising than by considerations of memories from the past, which brought about a series of prestigious contributions to the art of modern pasta-making, in the publications of posters, pages and advertising brochures. Voiello also attracted the attention of the most popular magazines among trendsetters in consumption. Since 1983, 23 artistic compositions of pasta, created through the inspiration of the RSCG agency in Milan, took the most imaginative forms, occupying billboards and national magazines.
Of course, TV advertising couldn’t be left behind. For the first time, in 1986 – when Italy was celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Republic – the brand entered homes all across Italy, even with a touch of irony: Mr. Voiello angrily splashed sauce on the shirt of people unable to recognize the superior quality of his pasta.
From then on, the history of the pasta factory and that of TV merged in a continuous intertwining. A crescendo of fame followed for the great pasta of Naples. In 1987, a partnership began with one of the most memorable spokespeople for the Voiello brand: Marisa Laurito.
The celebrated Neapolitan showgirl featured in several fun yet smart commercials, aimed to instilling the culture of pasta with irony and passion. The ads expounded the long tradition, characteristics, specific formats, and combination with various sauces. In all the commercials in the series, the slogan was stated by the incisive and unmistakable voice of Riccardo Paladini (1925-1996), the unforgettable newsreader of the first Italian news bulletin, on RAI in the 1950s. His voice was a perfect fit for the message “in the solemnity of the mandate, an aura of officialdom and impartiality” (Aldo Grasso, Corriere della Sera, 1996), even when referring to a brand of pasta.
It was out of the question at that time for Voiello to miss out on promotional campaigns to win points, where the prizes were the famous oval plates and porcelain bowls. A success among consumers: one after another, they collected the stickers, but with it went kilos of great pasta, to complete the much-coveted signature service.
In the late ’80s, the pasta factory established itself as one of the big names in the pan-Italian market. Not only did it reinforce its already substantial historical roots in Campania, but it also became a favorite among Italian families, especially in northern and central Italy.

The legendary 1990s

The philosophy of the quest for quality – bequeathed by Giovanni Voiello – also underwent the great epochal changes of the ’90s. This was the decade when mobile phone arrived in Italy, and when the modern European Union came to be. But, above all, making its debut, first for a few enthusiasts and technophiles, then at universities, and finally among the general public, was the World Wide Web. Together with the slow advance of e-mails, it would radically change perceptions, customs, consumption and lifestyle throughout society.
Technology and speed, change and new fashions also had an effect on everyday shopping, which increasingly shifted towards vast shopping centers that sprang up in the suburbs of cities, as well as in smaller provincial towns. However, pasta remained the leader in the Italian people’s consumption, and quality pasta also took its place in the major recession in the first half of the decade.
In the advent of the first hard discounters in Italy and the consequent changes in the competitive scenario, Voiello responded by reiterating its superior quality. But that wasn’t all. Faithful to its sun-soaked, optimistic Neapolitan spirit, it embarked on an emotive communications campaign, with messages aimed at overcoming the vicissitudes of the time.
To follow her culmination of success celebrated by the awarding of the “Oscar” in advertising, Marisa Laurito passed the baton in 1992 to the intense emotions in the singing voice of Lucio Dalla.
His thrilling, Caruso-like notes became the artistic background for the “great pasta of Naples”, which experienced its zenith of intensity and visibility in the famous Pavarotti-Dalla duet in 1992, during the Pavarotti International filmed by RAI Uno.
The product’s exposure on TV also amplified the success of the historic points collecting. Many Italian families received the well-known Voiello Porcelain, which can still be found in the kitchen cupboards of Italian mothers and grandmothers who loved to cut and paste the points from the packaging. There were various forms of prestigiously designed plates, baking dishes and cruet sets in fine white ceramics, which came one after another in various catalogs from one season to the next. Once again, all this testified to the high quality of the pasta, even in tributes to the most loyal admirers.
Voiello then implemented another major promotion strategy – not only metaphorically: the memorable sponsorship of the S.S.C. Napoli football club, from 1991 to 1994. At that time, the team’s players included young talents such as Gianfranco Zola, Ciro Ferrara, Massimo Crippa, the goalkeeper Giovanni Galli and, from 1992, a rookie defender by the name of Fabio Cannavaro. In another link to the football field, the Voiello logo featured in sports broadcasts on the Rete 7 channel.
In 1995, communications returned to exalt the expertise of the master pasta makers, in terms of the superior requirements for Voiello pasta: the best grains, drawing using bronze dies, with a porous surface: “Quando tocca il sugo, non lo lascia più” (‘once it touches the sauce, nothing will get left behind’).
In the meantime, the scenario was changing in the market. Hit by the full impact of the crisis in consumption, the traditional points collecting ended in favor of lower purchase prices for Italian families.
In the latter half of the 1990s, the brand repositioned itself: the product had suffered contractions in market share and in the preferences of families, almost halving its historical value. For the 120th anniversary of the founding of the historic pasta factory, in 1999 Voiello gave itself a strong signal of recovery: a relaunch plan for the new millennium, immediately rewarded by the attention of consumers.

A history of over 120 years, without showing it

A triumph, supported by a targeted, determined growth strategy, researched in detail and put into practice with passion. This was how Voiello made its way into the third millennium. The pasta factory desired by Teodoro and his son Giovanni in 1879 returned to emphasize how its pasta was aimed at connoisseurs. Respect for its history and love for its work, attention to the minutest detail and the principles of the ancient pasta tradition made it an excellent product, suitable for enhancing the best dishes in Italian cuisine.
Therefore, the three golden rules that serve to make a pasta a superior quality product were also taken up in its communications campaigns: creation from the best durum wheat, drawn using bronze dies, and patiently dried. To ensure roughness, the best way to pick up sauce. In short, a pasta that is not only beautiful to look at and a pleasure to touch, but also a delight for the palate.
Fifty-six formats, split into Classici, Speciali and Sfiziosi lines (‘classic’, ‘special’, ‘delicious’), were added to the pasta factory’s modern range, together with updated packaging, to raise its sophistication even further. It even wore a tie made by Marinella, a historic brand of the Neapolitan aristocracy. It conformed to the fashions of the new millennium that – after the prêt-à-porter of the 1970s, the stylistic exaggeration of the ’80s, and the fusion of the ’90 – returned to the desire for elegance.
Sophistication, of course, but without neglecting culture. The decision was made for each pack of each format to tell the story and mention its features, adding a suggestion of a specific recipe, to celebrate the unique pleasure of the varying forms of taste.
This relaunch was accompanied in style by a new national television campaign, conceived by the Milano & Grey agency. The subject matter of the commercials was the individual formats, especially Voiello’s three big names: Penne, Spaghetti and Trenette. And they showed how the success of a regional dish could depend on other regions: despite typical recipes from Umbria (penne al tartufo, with truffles), from Sicily (spaghetti alle melanzane, with aubergine), and from Liguria (trenette al pesto), the indispensable “secret” ingredient was Neapolitan pasta. As the slogan had it, Voiello is “La pasta di chi se ne intende”, ‘the pasta for those in the know’.
The return to the halcyon days of the sales and market shares of the early ’90s was not long in coming. Voiello put the boat out to celebrate its 120th anniversary with an artistic polychrome terracotta of Pulcinella eating spaghetti, exclusively handmade in 1,250 copies, numbered and signed by the Neapolitan artist Lello Esposito.
Bolstered by the loyalty accorded by its consumers, when the euro arrived in 2001-02, the Neapolitan pasta factory decided to face the market with more of an attitude. On the one hand, the new price positioning of the Voiello range, making it more affordable; on the other, the impressive sales network that pushed the plant’s productivity forward in stages, so much so it reached and beat the historical record for pasta sales in 2002. Over 32,500 tons (65 million 500-gram packs) in Italy alone, with a historic share of 4.5% in value, certified by independent surveys conducted by the pollsters AC Nielsen.
This achievement still remains unsurpassed, despite reaching the production target of 30,000 tons of Voiello pasta in a couple of years in the meantime.
Since 2004, communications have once again played the trump card for Voiello pasta, in terms of its taste and superiority. An innovative press campaign was developed by the Nadler Larimer & Martinelli agency, focusing on Voiello’s most intriguing formats. A spectacular plate of pasta on a black background, with a sensual Baroque sophistication, presented a refined universe of aromas that took form in dancing wisps of smoke. The message of these prestigious and evocative images was “Più che una pasta, una filosofia di vita” (‘more than just pasta, a philosophy of life’). Once again, a successful tribute to the art of pasta-making and to Voiello’s Neapolitan tradition.

The new Voiello pasta factory

The Antico Pastificio Giovanni Voiello experienced a great buzz in 2005. It had been preparing for a restyling of the product, due to see the light of day in mid-2006, right when Italy won the World Cup.
First of all, a long process of selecting the raw material came to fruition. The choice was made of seeds of a durum wheat of superior quality, with a high protein content and a golden yellow color; once sown and harvested, it constituted the outstanding raw material for the genesis of the pasta of the future: the wheat of the Riserva Voiello.
Next, the production process underwent improvements. A major restructuring and modernization of the plant and many of its lines was completed, adopting the most advanced pasta production technologies, with constant respect for the ancient art of flour processing.
The combination of these two factors resulted in the genesis of the revamped Voiello pasta,
which also came in new packaging, to celebrate the occasion. It was an unprecedented move, but one with an ancient flair: the blue base of the pack was reminiscent of the traditional sugar paper. And along with it came a new logo Long-standing icons of Voiello pasta, Pulcinella and the Bay of Naples, but now more appealing and rounded.
Over 35 formats made up the revamped range from the Voiello pasta factory. The Specialità Napoletane (‘Neapolitan specialties’) stood out for their elegance, sophistication and value: pasta shapes inspired by the best Neapolitan tradition, now available in superior quality under the Voiello brand. Paccheri, Schiaffoni, Tofe and Mafaldine were the standouts, in their distinct paper packaging, even on the most crowded supermarket shelves: most of all for their stunning presence. But also for their inviting, mouth-watering appearance, as little sculptures in taste. A veritable triumph for the art of pasta-making, for all fans of good food.
The launch of the new Voiello was carefully designed and meticulously followed up. And it found its best communications yet in the TV campaign Esperienza dei sensi, ‘experience of the senses’. This new film set out the superior qualities of the revamped Voiello pasta – produced with select Riserva wheat –in terms of touch, sight, sound but most of all on the palate.
It was a resounding success, right from the start. Admirers of Italian pasta know it when a product is designed for and dedicated to them. Unsurprisingly, sales since 2007 have rebounded towards major objectives, driven by increasing awareness of the superior quality. A union of loving senses between demand for taste and supply that can fulfill it in the best possible way.
Again in 2007, another milestone was set in the history of the glorious pasta factory: Voiello sauces came to be.
The ideal complement for pasta has always been tomato. A perfect marriage, which has gathered consensus since the “vermicielli co’ le pommodore”, in the words of the Neapolitan Ippolito Cavalcanti, Duke of Bonvicino, in his Cucina teorico-pratica (‘Theoretical and Practical Cuisine’), published in 1839.
But, as we all know, tomatoes are the most practical in a sauce, ready to welcome being mixed with the best pasta, cooked al dente. And for a sauce to remember, the raw materials must be outstanding. Voiello therefore created a new line of pasta sauces with a unique tomato, selected ad hoc once again, the Scarpariello. In its phonology alone, the name recalls its Neapolitan origins and, in the sauce, translates into superior quality and sweetness. O’Sugo, as celebrated in the TV launch commercial, stands – alone, or on a pedestal – as a masterpiece to be admired. But above all to be tasted, accompanied by the Voiello pasta awaiting you on the plate.
By finding the right suitor, the range of Voiello-branded products has now been completed. Products that, when tasted, recall their roots in wheat and bronze dies for the pasta, and in the best sweet tomatoes for the sauce.
For over 140 years, the Antico Pastificio Giovanni Voiello has continued its noble mission: to delight and bring happiness to all lovers of good food. Heir to the rules, passion and spirit of craftsmanship of the art of flour processing, handed down from generation to generation, it aims for the utmost result: excellence in taste. And it confirms that “the truth consists in the fact”, in the words of the Neapolitan philosopher Giambattista Vico. Voiello knows true quality. Most of all because it is its creator.