Past Italia: Pasta in Italy

This image of a 19th-century factory in Naples illustrates just how fundamental pasta is to Italian cuisine

antique picture Italy: Naples, Pasta Factory

Where or when pasta originated is something we will never know. A lot of the problem lies in what we mean by “pasta”, but the modern Italian pasta we know and love today (ie, that which is made with durum wheat) almost certainly originated in Sicily more than a thousand years ago, when the Arab rulers of the time discovered that the island was perfectly suited to growing this high-gluten strain. From there, its use gradually spread to the mainland. It was certainly a staple in Naples by the 17th century – there is art to prove it – and by the time Goethe visited the Kingdom of Naples in 1786 it could be “bought everywhere and for very little money”