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.

Rustic Kitchen in Le Marche, Northern Italy                                                                                                        photo by Palazzo Donati

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.
 Taking a Pasta Class in Le Marche, Northern Italy Taking a Pasta Class in Le Marche, Northern Italy

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.

tagliatelle pasta italy

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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 | MAP
Contact: info@palazzodonati.com

Disclosure: I was a guest of Palazzo Donati, but all the words I write come straight from my, sometimes distorted, mind. Just as it should be.


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2018-12-22T15:21:36+00:00September 14th, 2014|Categories: Europe, FOOD, Italy, TRAVEL|Tags: , , |


  1. Heather September 14, 2014 at 5:35 pm - Reply

    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!

    • Annette White September 17, 2014 at 9:34 pm - Reply

      I took a cooking class in Thailand, which was great. But completely different than this one!

  2. Learn to Make Pasta From a Nonna in Italy, Le Marche | goodthingsfromitaly September 15, 2014 at 12:25 pm - Reply

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  3. Raffaella September 15, 2014 at 12:51 pm - Reply

    i still make it …

  4. `Kerry September 18, 2014 at 5:40 pm - Reply

    I don’t think I have ever had fresh homemade pasta before.

    • Annette White September 18, 2014 at 9:49 pm - Reply

      There is nothing like it! If you ever are in Northern California, you need to come to my restaurant so I can make you some 🙂

  5. Sherrah September 19, 2014 at 1:12 am - Reply

    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.

  6. Jennifer September 19, 2014 at 2:04 am - Reply

    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.

    • Annette White September 19, 2014 at 8:16 am - Reply

      I too take cooking classes when I travel, but this one was a little more close to my heart than the others. Probably because she reminded me of my grandmother 🙂

  7. rebecca September 25, 2014 at 11:27 pm - Reply

    Not much of a cook myself but this is one thing I would love to learn to make

    • Annette White September 26, 2014 at 7:24 am - Reply

      I will admit that there is something about making pasta that is very therapeutic.

  8. Julia Rinella March 20, 2015 at 11:42 am - Reply

    Beautiful pictures, and I am very sure that there isn’t a better teacher than a real nonna! Looks yummy!


  9. JB February 29, 2016 at 9:43 am - Reply

    I’m a little jealous of your cooking class experience. I’d have loved to do that!

  10. Kitchen Gadgets June 29, 2016 at 12:02 pm - Reply

    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!

  11. traveloveitaly September 23, 2016 at 4:15 am - Reply

    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.

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