By: Alicia Peacock Writer & Journalist | Specialist Arts & European travel

Our short guide to Italian homemade pasta

Pasta making is more than a centuries-old tradition and beloved Italian staple, it is an art form and source of national pride. Just a few simple ingredients sifted, kneaded and rolled out together transform into luxurious dishes that will stay in your heart as well as your mind. From the origins of pasta making to the familial traditions and memories which make the experience so precious, discover the magic that comes with ‘kneading the dough’ by hand. 

The history of pasta-making in Italy 

From China and the Middle East to Italy, the exact origins of pasta are often disputed by food historians. A popular misconception is that pasta arrived in Italy in the 13th-century with the Venetian explorer, Marco Polo, but the beloved staple was already very much a part of the Italian diet by the middle ages. It was around this time that increasing references to some of our favourite pasta dishes like ravioli, gnocchi, vermicelli and macaroni began. Although, some scholars would like to think that Italian’s passionate love-affair with pasta began even earlier in the 4th-century B.C, well before the arrival of the Romans. 

Since its inception, pasta has been immortalised, romanticized and revered by famous writers from Boccaccio in the 14th-century to Goethe in the 17th-century. During the Renaissance it was considered a dish of the aristocracy, blessing the banquet tables of kings, queens and noblemen. Their recipes were certainly interesting too, combining sweet, savoury and spicy flavours. 

By the 17th-century, industrial pasta production was well underway, with the use of mechanical presses used to make vermicelli. It was around this time that pasta became one of the main staples of the common diet and Italians haven’t looked back since ㄧ apart from, that is, to reflect fondly on their familial traditions that have kept the art of homemade pasta making alive. 

Respecting family traditions

For our resident chef, Franceso, at the Estate of Petroio, the art of homemade pasta making is intimately tied to memories of his nonna (“grandmother”) kneading and rolling out fresh dough. This is exactly why making pasta by hand is an infinitely more personal and emotive experience than using a machine, respecting a centuries-old tradition. 

The beauty of Italian cooking is that it isn't always about the complexity of the dish, but the quality of the ingredients. Whilst pasta secca (“dried pasta”), the dried kind most commonly found in supermarkets, is made from durum wheat and water, fresh pasta is as simple as mixing flour and eggs. With fresh pasta the flour is sifted, the dough kneaded, rolled, folded and cut and cooked in just a matter of minutes, with the mouth-watering transformation materialising before your eyes. This is what makes the art of pasta fresca such a special and unforgettable event, one we recommend sharing with your family and friends. 

Pasta with a personal touch: classes in your private villa

Immerse yourself in the flavours of Italy through food and wine tastings and our hands-on cooking masterclass, ‘The Art of Pasta Making’. Included in the cost of your villa rental, you will be guided by your in-house chef and learn to create over eight different types of homemade pasta, pairing different textures with different fillings and sauces. 

Alternatively, sit back, relax and watch the masters at their craft in one of our fully staffed villas with chefs. In the meantime, Francesco has compiled three sumptuous recipes to try at home, giving you a taste for the Tuscany Now & More experience. 

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