"IL PACCO DA GIU' " DISCOVER THE BEST KEPT SECRET OF ITALIANS ABROAD
In 2021, approximately 64.000 Italian nationals moved abroad. An astonishing number, considering how many tourists express their desire to move to Italy each year. Indeed, the number of Italians in London alone would make it Italy’s 7th biggest city by number of inhabitants, with around 400.000 living there in 2021.
So how do they do it? How do Italians survive far away from their warm shores and their world-class food? The secret is the infamous pacco da giú, meaning “the box from down south”. The name gained popularity among Erasmus students, who spent six to twelve months living abroad during their last year of university. Since then, the number of Italians who’ve chosen to live abroad for the entire duration of university has risen enormously. Partially or entirely supported by their parents, students occasionally received a box of Italian products, containing charcuterie, jars of homemade jams, spreads and even items commonly found in supermarkets, such as biscuits, pasta, sauces and canned goods. Although supermarket items became increasingly easier to find abroad, the difference in price when bulk buying in Italy and posting abroad made the practice still very much worth it for students living on a budget.
As with many diaspora communities worldwide, Italian students and expats soon began creating opportunities to share their precious foods with friends both Italian and international. The popularity of their cuisine hardly needed the boost in popularity, but some of Italy’s best kept cooking secrets began to spread and be replicated by many.
Since then, exporting companies have jumped on the trend and started creating their own combinations of confectionery to send all over the world. Some even act as a virtual Italian supermarket, allowing you to select your favourite products as if you were in an Italian Conad and sending them to your doorstep. This way, non-Italians all over the world can replicate recipes to near perfection and share the joy of Italian cuisine.
Many see this as a threat, as the spread of culinary culture increases the chances of unorthodox modifications (which as we see online, Italians can feel very strongly about), but on the other hand, it could be viewed as a fantastic opportunity for many small producers to gain popularity and promote local, sustainable business models and good causes. For example, the family-owned Rummo pasta factory suffered severe damages in 2015 after a flood hit the area of Benevento, near Naples. But community support and social media sprung into action and propelled Rummo pasta to never-before-seen levels of popularity. So much so, that Rummo pasta is now among the most popular and beloved in many countries both in Europe and worldwide. Now of course that opens up the possibility for what are considered culinary heresies in the eyes of conservative Italians, but it also gives a family owned business a well-deserved chance to grow and develop its products to match the excellence the region has to offer.
After Brexit, sending packages from mainland Europe became a lot more difficult and expensive. That is why at Egro’ we curate and carry a wide selection of products, both to display the excellence and diversity that Italy has to offer, and to give Italians in London the opportunity to taste and smell their favourite products from home. We have our own variation of the “Pacco da giú”, where we assemble personalised boxes on behalf of families, adding a surprise unexpected product just as mamma would.
Discover our boxes and ORDER them here