Regional Guide to Pasta from North to South

Regional Guide to Pasta from North to South

Walk down the pasta aisle of any marketplace, and you'll likely find common varieties of pasta like spaghetti, penne, and rigatoni. As Italians, we know and love these staple shapes just as much as anyone. But did you know that there are many other varieties out there?

From the stuffed ravioli of the north to the intricate shapes of the south, each region of Italy offers its own unique pasta form and flavors. Indeed, Italy has more than 400 known pasta shapes, many of which contain more than one name and variation!

While it would take us a whole book to explain every single type (you can check that out in our new All About Pasta book), today we're taking you on a tour of Italy's twenty regions through the world of pasta! Ready to dive in?


Pasta from north Italy is often made with soft wheat flour (all-purpose or type 00), which grows primarily in the northern regions. Since soft wheat flour is low in protein, the addition of eggs is required to bind the dough together, resulting in silky, golden sheets of pasta.

fresh egg pasta dough


Resembling more gnocchi than traditional pasta, these large dumplings are made by hand-rolling milk-soaked bread together with eggs, Speck, and local cheese.

Region: Trentino-Alto Adige
Ingredients: Bread, milk, eggs, speck, and cheese
Sauce Pairing: In broth or with butter and cheese
Recipe: Canederli Trentini


Who needs pumpkin pie when you've got pumpkin-stuffed pasta? Ravioli di zucca are also known as tortelli di zucca alla mantovana, named after their town of origin, Mantova.

Region: Lombardia
Ingredients: Butternut squash, crushed amaretti, Parmigiano Reggiano DOP, and nutmeg
Sauce Pairing: Brown Butter and Sage
Recipe to try: Ravioli di Zucca


Made with hearty buckwheat flour, these short, fat ribbons get their name from a dialect word bizzo, which means "morsel."

Region: Northern Lombardia, near the Alps
Ingredients: Buckwheat flour, wheat flour, and water
Sauce Pairing: Potatoes, Savoy cabbage, butter, and local cheese


Hailing from Piemonte, the birthplace of Eataly, agnolotti del plin are veal-stuffed pockets made by making a plin, or "pinch."

Region: Piemonte
Ingredients: Stuffed with a mixture of slow-roasted veal, Parmigiano Reggiano DOP, and greens
Sauce Pairing: Veal sauce or butter and shaved truffles
Recipe to try: Agnolotti del Plin


This little worm-like pasta derives its name from a Greek word for "nourishment." Trofie are almost always served with fresh basil pesto.

Region: Liguria
Ingredients: Wheat flour or chestnut flour and water
Sauce Pairing: Basil pesto
Recipe to try: Trofie al Pesto


Meaning "pants" in Friuli dialect, cjalsons are shaped like half moons and filled with dried fruit, greens, and local cheese.

Region: Friuli-Venezia Giulia
Ingredients: Wheat flour and eggs, stuffed with raisins, spinach, and smoked cheese
Sauce Pairing: Butter, smoked ricotta, and local aged cheese


Meaning "little worms" in Veneto dialect, bigoli are long, thick noodles. Traditionally made with buckwheat flour, they sometimes have a coarse texture excellent for picking up sauces.

Region: Veneto
Ingredients: Whole wheat flour, water, salt, and eggs
Sauce Pairing: Onion, tuna, and anchovies


The meeting point between the north and the south, central Italy produces pasta that is made with either flour and eggs or flour and water. Diversity can be seen the most here and pasta recipes vary greatly.

Garganelli pasta

Garganelli get their name from a dialect word that means "chicken gullet," probably due to their ridged tubular shape. Each one is made by hand by wrapping a flat square of pasta dough around a wooden rod and rolling it across a ridged comb.

Region: Emilia-Romagna
Ingredients: Wheat flour and eggs
Sauce Pairing: Meat ragù or with prosciutto and peas

Tagliatelle are long, golden, silk-laden ribbons of pasta, a little wider than fettuccine. Their name comes from the Italian word tagliare, or "to cut."

Region: Marche and Emilia-Romagna
Ingredients: Wheat flour and eggs
Sauce Pairing: Fresh truffles or ragù alla Bolognese
Recipe to try: Tagliatelle al Tartufo

10. PICI
Made by hand-rolling dough into long, extra thick strands, pici get their name from appiccicare, meaning "to stick."

Region: Toscana
Ingredients: Wheat flour, water, and oil
Sauce Pairing: Tomato and garlic
Recipe to try: Pici all'Aglione

A cousin to spaghetti, bucatini are thick hollow strands. In Italian, the word buco means "hole," hence the name bucatini.

Region: Lazio
Ingredients: Durum wheat flour and water
Sauce Pairing: Tomato and guanciale
Recipe to try: Bucatini all'Amatriciana

Usually made by hand, strangozzi are long and have a rectangular cross-section. The name of the pasta is inspired from its resemblance to shoelaces, as stringhe is Italian for "strings."

Region: Umbria
Ingredients: Wheat flour and water
Sauce Pairing: Local black truffles or meat ragù
Recipe to try: Pasta Spoletina (you can substitute tagliatelle with strangozzi)

Meaning "small gnocchi" in Sardinian dialect, malloreddus are small pieces of pasta no bigger than a thumbnail. To make them, the dough is often enriched with saffron strands, before small pieces of dough are pinched off and rolled across a ridged comb.

Region: Sardegna
Ingredients: Saffron, durum wheat flour, water, and salt
Sauce Pairing: Wild boar ragù and pecorino Sardo cheese


Pasta varieties of southern Italy are usually made with durum wheat flour and water. Also know as semolina flour, durum wheat flour, only grows in central and south Italy. Since this type of flour is higher in protein, eggs are usually not needed – just a little bit of water!


Thanks to the slapping sound they make when mixed with sauce in the bowl, these thick tubes get their name from the Neapolitan paccharia, meaning "slaps."

Region: Campania
Ingredients: Durum wheat flour and water
Sauce pairing: Neapolitan ragù or stuffed with ricotta
Recipe to try: Paccheri al Forno

A short pasta with curled edges and a groove down the middle, casarecce literally mean "homemade."

Region: Sicilia
Ingredients: Wheat flour and water
Sauce Pairing: Tomato and almond pesto Trapanese

A typical Calabrian pasta of ancient origins, fileja are shaped like an elongated screw. Traditionally they are made by hand by wrapping a 2 to 3-inch rope of pasta dough around a thin rod or needle.

Region: Calabria
Ingredients: Durum wheat flour and water
Sauce Pairing: 'Nduja and ricotta salata
Recipe to try: Fileja Pasta con Sugo di 'Nduja

Meaning "little ears," orecchiette are one of the most popular pasta shapes of Puglia. Each one is made by dragging a small piece of dough along the edge of a serrated knife and flat surface.

Region: Puglia
Ingredients: Durum wheat flour, type 0 flour, and water
Sauce Pairing: Cime di Rapa greens
Recipe to try: Orecchiette con Cime di Rapa

The traditional method for preparing this type of spaghetti requires a special guitar-like instrument. A flat sheet dough is placed across the strings, then pressed down flat. When the strings are "played" the pasta falls through, resulting in long spaghetti cut square at the cross-section.

Region: Abruzzo
Ingredients: Durum wheat flour, eggs, and sometimes water
Sauce Pairing: Lamb ragù

Meaning "little hollows," cavatelli are handmade by dragging small pieces of pasta dough across one our two fingers and a flat surface. This movement creates smooth, hollowed out pasta shapes perfect for capturing chunky sauces.

Region: Molise
Ingredients: Wheat flour, water, and sometimes eggs
Sauce Pairing: Meat ragù or turnip greens

Before lasagne, there were lagane! One of the oldest known pasta varieties dating back to ancient Roman times, lagane are thick, extra wide ribbons. Their name means "kitchen pot" in Greek, probably because they were originally prepared in a clay pot over an open flame.

Region: Basilicata
Ingredients: Durum wheat flour, water, and salt
Sauce Pairing: Chickpeas and tomatoes


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