Learn to Make Pasta From a Nonna in Italy

I had many regrets when my adorable Italian Nonna passed away several years ago. But, the one that still haunts me today is that I didn’t give her my undivided attention while she was making all of her traditional recipes that she brought to America from her tiny village in Northern Italy. I vividly remember her sweet, stubby fingers rolling potato gnocchi and stuffing fresh raviolis for hours in the early afternoon. Though I received some sporadic lessons, all of her delicious Italian recipes were never written down. Today, I would give anything to taste one of her specialty dishes again.

It was now too late to be taught pasta making by my Italian grandmother, but it wasn’t too late to be taught by someone else’s.

While staying at the Palazzo Donati palace, in the Northern Italy town of Mercatello sul Metauro in Le Marche, I got a tagliatelle lesson from Nonna Lina Mazzanti.

Lina started making pasta at the age of ten, which is not terribly uncommon in Italy. She has won top awards at the pasta competition in the village for the past ten years. If a pasta lesson couldn’t be given by my actual grandmother, Lina was definitely qualified as a substitute teacher.

The class was being taught in the rustic, downstairs kitchen of Palazzo Donati, as wood burned in the open fireplace in the background.

Lina, working on a table in the center of the room, started with making the dough. The recipe was simply 1 egg per 100 grams of flour.

That’s it. No salt. No water. No semolina. No big secret.

She pour the flour on the wooden cutting board and created a well. The eggs were put into the center, protected by the flour wall she had built.

She mixed the two ingredients together and kneaded the dough by hand for twenty minutes.

There was no such thing as a Kitchenaid mixer in her world.

When the pasta dough had some elasticity to it, it was set aside to rest for another twenty minutes.

Kneading Dough in Pasta Making Class in Italy

Then, Nonna Lina rolled the dough out entirely by hand using a long, wooden rolling pin.

There was no metal pasta maker in sight.

It took at least fifteen minutes to roll it to the perfect thickness on the wooden board that she kept accusing of being way too small for what she was trying to accomplish. Once it was flattened perfectly, it was left alone to dry for an hour.

Rolling Pasta Dough by Hand in Northern Italy

It was then folded in half, then half again, and cut by hand into thin strips of tagliatelle. She floured and haystacked each portion making neat little packages that were now ready to turn into a meal.

Tagliatelle Pasta Haystack on Wooden Cutting Board

We ate a lunch at Palazzo Donati using this uncomplicated pasta recipe, which was turned into a delicious tagliatelle with a bolognese sauce. Some of the best food in the world is so simple.

I would never disrespect my Nonna by saying Lina’s was the best, but let’s just say I can understand why she has been the pasta competition winner over the last several years.


You can have a pasta cooking lesson arranged by Luisa when staying at Palazzo Donati which is in the Le Marche region of Northern Italy.

Website: Le Marche Holiday Villa
Location: Via Bencivenni, 29 – Mercatello sul Metauro (PU) – Italy
Contact: [email protected]


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18 thoughts on “Learn to Make Pasta From a Nonna in Italy”

  1. I want to experience a lesson like this so badly … I’ve enjoyed cooking classes in Thailand and Bali so far, and learning Italian cooking in Taly would be a dream!

  2. Thanks for sharing this Annette. I really love pasta and after reading your post I will surely have some of that delicious tagliatelle with bolognese sauce at Palazzo Donati palace.

  3. Beautiful post! Having fresh pasta makes all the difference but hard to do traveling full-time. I love to take cooking classes when I travel this one looks fantastic.

  4. I’m so impressed with the way you make homemade pasta. I wish I have that same professional style in the kitchen especially when making homemade pasta!

  5. Hii,
    Amazing article,I really love to make pasta.These are the beautiful tips how to make pasta.

    Thanks,for sharing this valuable information with us.

  6. What an amazing story, woman, and oh my, that KITCHEN! Although I would never attempt to make pasta without all of the modern technology, her method, perfected over decades of practice, will have that flavor of love in it that I will never achieve. Thank you for reminding me of the process of creating food, not just the end result. And that we don’t necessarily NEED the extra salt, olive oil, and flavorings, that so many recipes suggest. This dish reminds me of the best pasta I ever had – in a tiny restaurant on the side of a mountain while driving between Naples & Bologna. Nobody spoke English, and by the antelope’ head on the wall, Im guessing the bolognese was just as local as the people. Grazi!

  7. Can’t Imagine how simple the recipe is! I initially thought it was the combination of hand making skills and special sauce recipe that makes Lina Mazzanti win the competition. But it turns out to be mainly her hand making skills combined with her recipe of timing! FANTASTIC! I would definitely go to find this magical kitchen when I travel to Northern Italy one day! Hope she is healthy and happy all the time! Plus I’ll visit your restaurant when I travel to Northern California with my friends in the near future!


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Hey Bucket Listers!
I'm Annette.

I’m a goal obsessed mid-lifer, traveler, experience collector, fear crusher, digital marketer and author with big bucket list dreams. Let's Connect!

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