The magic of historic town centres is due to two factors: the beauty of the place and the emotions that the people convey who live there, especially the traders who with their shops enliven the streets of the old town.
Paliano is spread over low hills and spurs south of Rome. Its old town is quite small and has alleys and well-kept streets, many filled with flowers, with a breathtaking panoramic view and some special shops, such as Giuliana’s good food shop, that make it worth a visit.
In this area, the specialist food shops were once the heart of the town,and were the place where you could select from the best products of the area. The merchant was a connoisseur expert who was able to recognize the qualities and characteristics that deserve to be tasted. As food distribution has become increasingly professional and supermarkets have opened, the specialist merchant has begun to lose its identity.
All who have tried to get in price competition with supermarkets and department stores have lost. And this applies to all areas: from food to clothing. But over the years many supermarkets have increased their competitiveness, and have begun to market products of questionable origin or made with ‘low quality ingredients ‘.
This has opened the door to the rebirth of the local markets, where the manufacturer-customer relationship is direct, and to new opportunities for the traditional good food shop that is again becoming a credible reference point for those who want something genuine and of certified origin. The novelty is that these specialists become a reference point for both the local producer as well as the customer.
And here begins the story of Giuliana Pantellini and her good food shop in the main street of the historic centre of Paliano. Her family has run a shop for 7 generations and entering you’ll immediately notice that it is not a trivial food store. The spirit of the place is immediately perceptible on shelves with liquid soap dispensers and boxes of empty plastic bottles. It is a temple to sustainability, a paradise for all those who want to do their part to help the world.
Giuliana, perhaps also resulting from her passion for chemistry, has created many different types of soap with fragrance and specificity for every need. Soaps for those with sensitive skin and other personal needs.
“Because being environmentally friendly does not mean neglecting the pleasure to select perfumes and accept what is suggested. I guide the selection and explain the qualities of each soap. Then I put aside the plastic bottles because I know that people may forget to bring the empty container and so I offer them this service. “
She then went into depth on all sorts of details about the soaps that made me understand how the choice of offering bulk soaps was not dictated by a window-dressing but arose from her need to give a service to her customers while teaching them how to love and respect our planet.
And there were more surprises. I noticed the packs of biscuits and pasta made with the ‘grano monococco’ by a producer of Paliano, Livio Bertacco. Livio in recent years has begun to produce this variety of wheat that had been abandoned and was cultivated only in a few areas.
“This wheat is special because even celiacs can eat it. I’m happy to have it because supporting a local producer by offering a way to ‘tell about his product’ and I offer a service to my customers. Today many are intolerant or allergic, and I have prepared for them a selection of the best products for every need. I almost want to call my shop ‘No’: gluten free, lactose free, palm oil … “
Giuliana has understood the spirit of the time and is now happy to once again become a point of reference for the citizens of Paliano who do not go to her only to buy products, but they go to ask for advice from an expert to help them in their needs . And going back to the good food shop of the town, where people feel safe to find what they seek.
There will not be the same variety as the supermarket because someone has already selected what they consider best for us, and that someone greets us at the door with a smile and every day with some new ideas and suggestions.
If you have problems of ‘no flour’ or if you want to enjoy some peculiarities of local producers, you can go to hear the stories Giuliana tells you and find the selection she has done for you. Meanwhile we selected our ecological bulk detergent and we took the gluten-free biscuits because we have become intolerant to chemically treated white flour too. Long live the real people, small producers, traders and every good food shop, that we make them known.