“We started producing oil during the Papal States.” History of the company that produces the best organic products in Italy

«We have arrived at fifth generation, after a journey that began in the early years of 1817, as evidenced by a container marked by the Papal State, which represented the measured unit of sale of the oil produced by my family”. The passion that Francesco Gradassi has always invested in the development of its olive-growing company and the oil mill. It did not arrive by chance, but is the daughter of a family history that has found fertile ground in one of the most prestigious areas in the world for the quality of oil production and for research into agronomic and olive growing fields in particular. We were told how the company has evolved in these two centuries of history and how it has achieved excellence and won prize after prize like the one “best organic” on the Oli d’Italia 2024 guide for the Affiorante Monocultivar Moraiolo Bio label obtained this year.

The company path from the twentieth century to today

Already at the beginning of the last century Domenico Gradassi had established a profitable trade in demijohns of its own oil with northern Italy, but the qualitative change occurred with his son Ettore, father of the current owner, around the 1960s. «The real commercial development occurred, however, only in the nineties, when I started, together with my father, to make our Marfuga extra virgin olive oil known in the most important delicatessens in Italy and in the main stores around the world», Francesco tells us. A period where meetings of this type were often not planned as happens today, but which took place in a much more “direct” way with the buyers: «It all happened in a historical period where the internet did not exist, and we met potential customers directly in the very luxurious gastronomy of the most important Italian cities” he adds.

The obsessive attention to sales

A company path made of continuous developments both in terms of technological innovations in the oil mill, but also in the commercial aspect which the owner has never put second place compared to production. Today, in fact, the Marfuga brand is present in over a thousand points of sale in Italy and the oil is exported to over 25 countries around the world. Added to this are also the four Marfuga mono-brand stores scattered between Umbria and Tuscany. A success that was the result of sacrifices and difficult choices such as when Ettore Gradassi met the owner of a very famous wine shop in Via Solferino in Milan at the end of the 1990s: «It was our second visit and it would have served to see how much oil he had sold during the whole year of our first supply of around 12 0.75 liter bottles”, Francesco tells us. «The manager explained to us very rigorously that only four bottles had been sold. My father, without hesitation and to the great amazement of the distinguished owner, wanted and obtained all the unsold bottles back, fully refunding the amount that had been paid on the invoice. At first there was a moment of hesitation, but then everything was resolved with a handshake. Since that day, however, this beautiful wine shop became one of the most important clients in Milan».

The future of Marfuga

Today Marfuga matters 40 hectares of olive groves, nestled on the hills of Campello sul Clitunno, Spoleto and Trevi, for a total of 16 thousand trees. Like every company that keeps up with the times, Marfuga has never stopped looking at the next steps, and the owner has clear ideas about this too: «Future projects concern the digitalization and technological innovation, but also strictly traditional olive tree plantings and new olive groves which will allow us a more constant production.” A vision which, however, as Francesco is keen to point out, cannot ignore the next generation who will take the helm of the company: «This is a noble profession that we have the obligation to preserve and pass on. The desire is to, in the near future, include my two daughters Ginevra and Elettra in the company».

 
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