Amaro Lucano, more exports for the elixir of the Vena family (from the USA to Asia)

What more do you want from life? Few people know that this slogan – one of the most famous of the post-Carosello TV and consigned to history – has become a trademark, registered with the Italian Patent Office and linked to Amaro Lucano. That, in fact, the response is not very rhetorical and a lot spirit, to the existential question now also endowed with copyright. Francesco Vena, born in 1985, CEO of the 100-year-old family business, the fourth generation in charge, tells it with pride. Statistics say that only 4% of family businesses make it to this goal – he explains -. My brothers Leonardo and Letizia work with me, our mother Rosistella while my father Pasquale is the sole director of the family holding. The Amaro Lucano that appears and disappears among the 160 pages of the essay published by Rubettino and co-written by Francesco and Emiliano Maria Cappuccitti, manager of Coca Cola Hbc, an invention of his ancestor, the first Pasquale of the dynasty.

The Vena family. From left: Francesco (CEO di Amaro Lucano 1894), Letizia, Rosistella, Leonardo and Pasquale

In 1894, skilfully mixing about thirty herbs after having learned the craft of sweets and liqueurs in the most famous Neapolitan pastry shops, he started one of the flagship products of Made in Italy. Without knowing that posterity would have called so the beautiful, good and well done tricolor, ranging from fashion to the table. The elixir, which does not show the abundant century and which went through the Eighties of Milan to drink with the same label (but the company of Pisticci, near Matera) and those difficult to define of the pandemic, strongly connected to the territory. But the tacky, the Lucanian peasant woman with an apron and a basket of aromatic herbs in her hand, a certainty on the supermarket shelf, very familiar even for those who have no roots in Basilicata.

Acquisitions and plans

With 25 million in turnover and some acquisitions in the last eight years – after Limoncetta di Sorrento and Vermouth Mancino, in 2022 Amaro Lucano bought 35% of Giass, the London dry gin start-up founded, among others, by the new generations of Braggiotti and the Romiti – certainly not a colossus. But it boasts a brand that has become part of the national collective imagination and that can count on the fierce community of Lucanians in the world (they held a congress in Potenza, for them the bitter is something to cheer for as you do with your favorite team, says Vena). The goal, for the future, is to bring exports, which today represent 15% of revenues, to 25%. The most important markets are the United States, Germany, Great Britain, Canada and the Scandinavian countries. Now we look a lot to the East, given that the founder of Vermouth Mancino, acquired in 2021, made a fortune between Hong Kong and Singapore as a bar tender.

An advertisement
An advertisement from the seventies

While the United States, at the top of the ranking of countries where Lucano sells the most outside Italy, they were the starting point of a piece of the Vena family, which arrived by ship when the Italians, and many from the South, emigrated to the new world. In Jersey city there is still the sign of the shop that sold Pisticcci’s elixir to the Americans.

The museum

Amaro Lucano appears and disappears between the pages of the essay because Vena and Cappuccitti have tried, starting from the scripts of the commercials What do you want more from life ?, to write a kind of how we were and how we are where the company is only one of the many identity paradigms with which to describe a country full of creativity and local peculiarities. Something that had not escaped the writers of the Encyclopedie Contemporaine in the early twentieth century (year 19, 552), where Amer Lucain is spoken of as an excellence to honor the province of Basilicata. In the last chapters we talk about Covid and the desire for redemption. What is the recipe for getting out of the further crisis we are in? There is no real recipe – says Vena – it takes great ability to reinvent yourself. Always looking at the glass half full, as we say in the book. Before the crisis had a beginning and an end and while you had a time to try to react, now the pandemics, wars and energy, raw materials and economic crises that follow one another, force you to adapt and reschedule continuously imagining that this scenario is the new normal. a bit like going on a boat and planting your feet well to follow and anticipate the motion of the waves.

A historical photo: the processing of the elixir
A historical photo: the processing of the elixir

In 2019 in Pisticci, redeveloping an abandoned wing, the Vena family inaugurated Essenza, the house museum: ten thousand visitors in two yearssays Francesco. So many, if you think about the period of captivity. Five thematic areas, in technological and interactive spaces to take a guided journey. We are part of Musei Impresa – explains Vena – the association that brings together over 100 small and large companies with collections and archives. Where the corporate culture, the history of the place and of the business support and explain the evolutions of the present and the future.

Amaro Lucano, more exports for the elixir of the Vena family (from the USA to Asia)