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Pasta Lover’s Guide to the Best Attractions in Italy

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Is there anyone out there who loves eating AND loves traveling? This tour is for you pasta lovers, and our trip planner will help you find the best stops! Pasta has a diverse history and has gone through many changes across many regions, but, when we hear the word “pasta” today, we often think of Italy! We’re not arguing with you – there’s a whole world of pasta worth exploring out there! These attractions in Italy will be an adventure for your eyes, your feet, and your stomach.

Hasta la pasta, baby!

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Pasta: What’s in a Name?

Traveling to different places and trying every type of pasta is a great way to experience the best attractions in Italy – even if you’re not yet a dedicated pasta lover. It turns out that you can infer a lot about a type of pasta from its name! Usually, the name is borrowed from an idea or an object that it resembles. Word endings implying the size and other details are then added. Some examples include “ine” or “elle” which mean “little”, “oni” meaning large, and “acci” meaning “rugged” or “unequal.”

Here are some fun facts:

The name for spaghetti evolved as the plural form of the Italian word “spago” meaning “little string.”

Umbria stringozzi – homemade fresh pasta without eggs

Conchigilioni is the largest form of the famous conch shell-shaped pasta. It is designed to hold larger pieces of meat, like chunks of sausage or lamb ragu, and heavier cheeses like ricotta. You know what to do…

Italian pasta Conchiglioni stuffed with dry tomatoes and meat

Calamarata is similar in shape to cooked squid, which is called calamari.

Pasta Calamarata with octopus

Gemelli, which has two tubes wrapped around each other, shares a root with the word for “twins.”

Organic yellow Gemelli pasta

Penne is named after quill pens!

Italian Penne with salmon

Strozzapreti actually translates to “priest choker,” and was designed to make fun of the hypocritical gluttony and wastefulness of the church in medieval times. Its shape is like that of a twisted rope.

Colorful Italian Strozzapreti

Mafalda pasta is named after a princess, specifically the Princess Mafalda of Savoy.

Traditional pasta Mafalde with herbs and beef meat

Pasta: Where to Find It and How to Eat It!

Ziti pasta is from the island of Sicily, which is also one of the most colorful European destinations. You must visit at least once in your life- even better if it’s during the summertime! This dish has long been a local wedding tradition. With hollowed centers and, often, ridged sides, these noodles are capable of holding ALL of the pasta toppings, which makes it a hearty meal for large Italian families and a dream come true for pasta lovers! Its name refers to the young couples on their way to be married, and Italians still debate if it was intended to be named after little girls, zita, or little boys, ziti – it may even be both! If you can snag an invite to a wedding and stay long enough for the food, you’ll get to enjoy two of the best attractions in Italy at once!

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Beautiful Sunset in Sicily

An art as much as a food, Gigli pasta comes from the Tuscany region. It’s both shaped like and named after the lily flower which was once the crest of the local government and a symbol on currency. It is meant to be as pleasing to the eye as it is to the palate by resembling a bouquet of flowers. Most often, it’s served with heavy meat-filled and cream-based sauces because of its ability to catch thicker substances.

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Multicolored Gigli pasta

Orecchiette pasta is shaped like “little ears.” It was designed to scoop up the rich sauces of the thriving, agricultural area of the Puglia region.

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Prepared orecchiette with steamed broccoli and canned tuna. Pasta dish from Southern Italy that is distinctive of the Apulian area

The Campania region includes popular coastal towns such as Naples, Amalfi, and the island of Capri. Its cuisine revolved around Mediterranean flavors, and is heavy on seafood and olives. Linguine con le Vongole (linguine with clams) is a popular dish!

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Morning view of Amalfi cityscape on coast line of Mediterranean sea, Italy

Sauces: Where to Find and How to Eat Them!

Marinara sauce: The modern day version of this sauce that we all know and love originated in Naples, but the tomato base was only possible after the crop arrived in Italy from the “New World.” Since Naples is a major port for trade, it was one of the first places in Europe to receive foreign goods. The sauce is named after the mariners who brought it across the seas, giving us one of the most delicious attractions in Italy!

View of the Aragon castle in Baia, Pozzuoli, Naples Italy

It should come as no surprise that Bolognese sauce originates around Bologna. Since this region is inland and rich in pasture lands, the cuisine incorporates farm animals, hunted animals, and root vegetables such as those commonly used in this widely loved sauce.

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Main square of City of Bologna with Palazzo d’Accursio and facade of Basilica di San Petronio, Bologna

Though pesto sauce has many varieties, its famous reputation comes from the coastal Liguria/Genoa region. The geography here is a challenge for farming, but the pine trees and basil flourish. Heavy usage of pine nuts and basil makes pesto one of the most unique and luckily edible attractions in Italy. Trofie pasta is native to the region, and it twists and turns to catch the oil-heavy sauce. Another native pasta, Crosetti, is shaped like coins so that aristocrats could stamp their family crests into the surface!

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Alassio on Italian Riviera by San Remo, Liguria

Arrabbiata sauce comes from the central Lazio region and is based on the Italian word for “anger.” Local peppers used for the sauce give it a spicy quality which earned it this name. Anger many not be one of the nicest attractions in Italy, but the taste of it certainly is!

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Castle of Holy Angel and Holy Angel Bridge over the Tiber River in Rome at sunset.

Now, whether you’re already a pasta lover or a budding one, you know what pasta to try and where to find it – there’s only one thing left to do: book that pasta tour to see all the best attractions in Italy!

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