"We slept in the truck just to sell olive oil in the North." The story of the heroic Puglian producer and his family

Jun 9 2024, 18:33
Pietro Intini, owner of the namesake mill located in Alberobello, shares the story of his family and how they became pioneers of high-quality Puglian extra virgin olive oil

Among industry insiders, mentioning the Intini Mill immediately brings to mind their extraordinary work in reviving a nearly extinct variety like Cima di Mola. This cultivar has been enhanced by the company through meticulous research on the best extraction method to bring out its powerful organoleptic characteristics. However, the story of this prestigious olive oil enterprise is one of sacrifices and persistence, starting a few decades ago with the concept of quality in a region where, like many other parts of Italy, the focus was often on yield and mere quantity. We spoke with Pietro Intini, the fourth generation of a family always dedicated to olive growing, who this year won the special prize for Best Monocultivar with his Coratina in the 2024 Gambero Rosso Italian Olive Oil Guide.

 The Mill among the trulli

"My grandfather Pietro Intini started working at the age of 6, alongside his father, in the mill of a wealthy landowner in the Alberobello countryside. It was the 1930s, and this was considered normal for children of peasant extraction. After years of hard work, my grandfather managed to acquire his employer's business, investing all his savings in a small mill in the cellar of a trullo in the center of Alberobello. He stayed there until 1994 when the popularity of the trulli, the consequent tourism development, and growing production required a move to the outskirts of the town. This is how the Intini mill in Alberobello was born."

The flight of regular customers

"After him, my father Franco continued the work: he was one of the first in the area to adopt a continuous cycle system for oil production. We’re talking about the late 1970s. It was a real innovation, with which he began to produce superior quality oil, but with low yields and an intense taste, factors that drove away much of the clientele, resulting in significant economic losses for the company."

Sacrifices and commercial revolution

"In the 1980s, my father had to get creative, inaugurating, in a rudimentary but absolutely ingenious way, the 'from producer to consumer' formula that is today one of our winning formulas in Europe and the world. I traveled with him and the whole family for entire weeks, distributing the oil produced in our mill door-to-door throughout Northern Italy: it wasn't easy, considering there was neither time nor the possibility of resting in a hotel. We slept in the truck at night and at dawn, we set off for another day of tight deliveries. For me as a child, it was an adventure; today I understand the magnitude of those sacrifices and the determination in that work: to achieve what we are today, the secret was always pushing beyond the limits."

Intini mill today

"After my grandfather's and my father's experiences, seeing the sacrifices they made, I also decided to invest everything in study and technology to produce extra virgins that bear my personal signature, which I hope can be recognizable. My company remains a family business with a tailored production process that I personally oversee at every stage, from the land to the bottle. I am a passionate person rather than a businessman, and I prefer beauty over numbers: that constant search for harmony with nature and the human capacity to interpret it. It is a responsibility I carry within me: I feel I must do something to enhance this extraordinary food that is high-quality extra virgin olive oil and to protect the territory where my deep and rooted origins lie, for the benefit of future generations."

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