When it comes to pasta, Italy is unrivalled beyond doubt. As the world's biggest producers and consumers – approximately twenty-five kilos per person every year, unexpectedly followed by Tunisians – Italians are probably the only people happy to eat pasta more than once every day.
Always considered (and cooked) as a main course on its own and not as a basic carbohydrate to accompany meals as a side dish, pasta – served after entrées and before meat or fish courses – is yet another delicious example of typical Italian inventiveness. With over 300 different shapes (formati) – from the most common ones such as spaghetti and rigatoni, to the oddly-named regional varieties of freshly made pasta – and a virtually endless number of possible combinations of ingredients to create both simple or elaborate sauces, there’s never a dull dish.
Here’s a quick overview of Italy's most popular traditional pasta dishes, be them folksy, homemade versions or more cheffy takes on the great classics.