We are ducking our heads to fit within the hundreds of feet of dug out tunnels in the rocky hillside. It feels like we are in a mine looking for gold. The thought isn’t too far off, we are heading to the source of an ancient Roman spring set deep into the rock face. In Roman times, a fresh spring was more valuable than gold and the Romans built entire villages around sources of water. Ancient Romans haven’t lived here for a few thousand years, and now the spring is operated to create some of the best-flavored sodas in all of Italy.
It didn’t take me long to realize that the passion the team at La Galvanina has for their craft borders on obsession. Visiting La Galvanina, in the beautiful Italian coastal city of Rimini was a lesson not only in history but in commitment to quality.
To CEO Rino Mini every detail needs to be perfect. That means every source from vine to water needs to be of the highest quality possible. For instance, Mini doesn’t just want to put any regular Italian orange in the beverages La Galvanina creates, he wants organic blood oranges from only the best and most quality source in Sicily.
Some pure capitalists may balk and say it's bad business to only source only the highest quality without considering the cost margin as it would cut into profits. The family behind La Galvanina doesn’t think so. For them, bad business is bad flavor. Bad business is not being completely committed to quality and taste. There is something inherently Italian about their attitude towards sourcing and production. They simply won’t compromise quality for profit. Though, because the company sources their water from the spring they use the natural flow of water to collect it and don’t treat it at any point in the process. It limits the amount they can produce every year (currently at around 100,000,000 bottles) but it ensures the quality.
It’s an odd thing for me to get used to. I am not a custom to hearing the word “soda” and thinking of “quality”. In North America, soda is mostly massed produced and the ethos around ingredients, sourcing, and quality is far from a concern for many major brands. La Galvanina, which started in 1901, is completely the opposite. Since their inception the idea of sourcing organic was obvious. Not because it’s what the people demanded, but simply because it seemed right and because it made the end product taste better.
When I asked Mini if they create new products based on market research and on what people demand he smiled. Not really I was told, they produce what they love and others then fall in love with it. That may sound arrogant but it’s proven. Their Blood Orange, Black Carrot & Blueberry organic sparkling beverage recently won a Sofi award (which is kind of like an Academy Award for artisanal products). I doubt any survey could have told them that the flavors of orange, carrot, and blueberry would go together. They just knew it. They worked with their R&D department and let their intuition lead the way. It’s the same feeling that’s led them to launch a completely new product this year to north America called "Lollies", which is based on the classic Italian beach treat called “La Bomba".
A week after visiting La Galvanina I found myself in Florence looking for a trustworthy place to eat. I stepped into one restaurant and in their cooler I saw the familiar sight of La Galvanina labels. I felt safer almost as if I knew the food would be delicious. It’s a strange thing when you trace a product back to its origin, back to the natural spring water where it was born. Back to the people, whose love for quality birthed its compliment of flavors. You start to realize how rare of a thing quality really is.