Learning to Make Pasta from Scratch in Rome, Italy
Food is an important part of my travels, so every time I venture abroad, I will make it a point to try the local dishes, or better yet — try to cook them!
What food can you best associate with Italy?
Gelato, pizza, and of course, the much exalted pasta in all its many forms. Italians are known to be vehemently proud of their cuisine and will never settle for the store-bought kind if they could help it.
As they say, when in Rome do as the Romans do, so when I went to Rome for the first time, I joined a pasta-making class to learn the secret recipe of Italy’s most popular dish.
There are many pasta-making classes all over Italy. All you have to do is choose based on your budget, location, and whether you want to learn in someone’s home or a business establishment. You can try searching on Get Your Guide, Viator, or any other booking websites.
I chose a class in Frascati, Rome because:
- It was the nearest to where I was staying.
- It was the cheapest.
- It was listed on Airbnb. I have joined many Airbnb experiences and loved each one of them. Cooking classes on Airbnb have been vetted by the Airbnb team to be an authentic culinary experience taking place in an intimate setting and hosted by a local expert.
- It came with free drinks and appetizers, and a tour of their wine cellar!
For this class, booking can be made here. If you don’t have an Airbnb account yet, you can register through this link here to get a special discount on your first booking.
What to Expect in the Pasta Making Class
The train to Frascati took only 25 minutes from Rome city center but it was not as frequent as I thought — I had expected it to be every 5 – 10 minutes, like the subway. Good thing that I went early. The not-so-good thing was the train was delayed, which apparently isn’t that big of a surprise in Italy. Still, it made me so frustrated, thinking that I was going to miss the class.
When I reached Frascati Railway Station however, I was relieved to see that the host, Simone was still there waiting for me. It turned out that two other participants were also on the same train. Because train delays were not uncommon there, Simone was totally unfazed at having to wait a little longer for everyone to arrive.
From the railway station, we walked to the class venue. It involved some hike up a set of stairs to a hilltop, where you could see a picturesque view of Frascati. Along the way, Simone told us a brief history of the town and their family business. The class was to take place inside their family’s restaurant that doubled as a cooking school during closing hours.
First, we put on our aprons and washed our hands. There was a long table already laid out with all the utensils and ingredients required for pasta-making.
To prepare the dough, we added egg and salt to a bowl of multi-purpose flour, and mixed it all together with a fork. Once it was the right consistency, we transferred the dough to a wooden board and started kneading until it wasn’t sticking to the surface anymore.
There was no rigid measurement involved during the mixing and kneading. We simply added more flour or water as needed.
This obviously required a lot of experience to get it right. Simone was there the whole time to guide us. He only needed a quick glance at our dough to know whether it was ready or not.
So, we had to continue kneading and kneading until he gave his approval. Then, we continued to the next step: flattening the dough with a rolling pin.
I thought the kneading part was hard enough, but this one was an even lengthier process. We had to make the dough as thin as possible — until it was almost transparent — without breaking it. I chafed my thumbs from having to press so hard on the rolling pin. No wonder most Italian nonnas are strong, burly women.
I chose paddardelle simply because I had never heard of it. So, we rolled the flattened dough and cut them into strips based on the types of pasta we chose.
Once we were done, we had to let the pasta rest for a while before we cooked it. Heck, after all that workout, we needed to rest too! The hosts served us with some appetizer, which was a platter of locally-sourced cheeses and deli meats.
The next step was making the sauce for our pasta. There were three options: carbonara with truffle sauce, amatriciana, and cacio e pepe. All three of them are traditional Roman sauces that have been passed down for generations. I went for carbonara because of the truffle sauce.
To expedite the process and probably because there were not enough stoves for each of us, Simone did the cooking while we helped him mix the ingredients in separate bowls. His assistant blanched the pastas.
And then, it was time to eat! During the meal, you will also get to taste their family’s wines: “Frascati Superiore” D.O.C.G. and “Vagnolo”. Or, you can buy a whole bottle to be shared among your group members.
As the grand finale of the experience, Simone handed us each a lantern and took us to visit a cave below the cellar. This was where some of the wines were kept.
After that, with our stomachs full, we waddled back to the train station where we parted ways. A PDF file of the recipes was e-mailed to us a few weeks later.
Final Thoughts on the Pasta-Making Class
I may be a foodie, but I’m not a pasta connoisseur. I can’t really tell good pasta from bad pasta. I might enjoy Prego’s instant spaghetti bolognaise just as much as I enjoy an authentic Michelin-starred pasta dish made by a real Italian chef.
Therefore, I can’t really comment if the pasta I made on that day was good or not. I found it to be a little too soft for my liking, but maybe that’s just how real pasta is supposed to be like.
However, as far as cooking classes go, I’d definitely recommend this one to anyone who’s traveling to Italy, especially those who are big fans of Italian cuisine. Even if you’ve never cooked before, this class allows you to immerse yourself in the unique traditions of the Roman culinary world.
Where to Stay in Rome, Italy
Rome is a fairly safe city and there is nowhere that is considered a real no-go area (although Termini is sometimes made out to be a dangerous place).
Where you choose to stay largely depends on what you like to do. For example, if you’re looking for nightlife, Trastevere is your best bet. For the best food and restaurants, stay in Testaccio. And if you like sightseeing, then the Historic Center and Ancient Rome are great options.
Here are some of the top-rated places to stay in Rome:
Free Hostels Roma – Located just 5 minutes’ walk from Manzoni Metro Station and 20 minutes’ walk to the Coliseum, this hostel offers both private rooms and dormitory rooms with private bathrooms. The accommodation comes with air-conditioning and a shared terrace. From EUR 23 for a bed in a 6-Bed Mixed Dormitory Room with private bathroom.
Bibi e Romeo’s Home – Set in the heart of Rome, this B&B is only a 15-minute walk away from the Vatican and St Peter’s Basilica, while the metro station is only 300 metres away. All rooms come with air conditioning, a satellite LCD TV and private bathroom. From EUR 52 for a Double Room.
Mama’s Home Rome – Housed in a 14th-century palace in one of the most beautiful squares in Rome, this accommodation offers clean, modern rooms in a central location. A short walk can get you to Castel Sant’Angelo and St Peter’s Church. From EUR 111 for a Superior Double Room
Have you joined any cooking classes abroad? What was your experience like? Comment below.
One of the reason to travel is their delicious local dish, kan 😍 and it’s a plus if you can learn and do it yourself..congrats ummi! 😆
Thanks, Edahyu! Yes, food is usually my main agenda when traveling, and I always love learning new things, so cooking classes are a great combination of both 🙂
hahahaha sama lahhh! Kalau makan pasta memang pilih Prego je, tu rasa dah habis sedap dah. Berbaloi lah usaha u nipiskan dough sebab hasilnya cantik!
Hehe, terima kasih, Farhana. Nampak cantik la kot, tapi saya rasa macam lembik sangat je. Mungkin macam tu la pasta yang sebenar. Hmm, saya prefer pasta segera yang jual rm3 kat supermarket tu je.
nice travel diary story.. i never join any cooking class abroad. maybe i will join if i get the opportunity
Thank you for dropping by, Huda. I hope you’ll get to try this experience or something similar in the future. 🙂
have never experience joining any cooking class abroad. but feel like to after reading this. such an informative posting. thanks for sharing
You’re welcome, Bae. It’s a really fun thing to do if you love cooking and/or eating! 🙂
Process to make pasta from ingredient I tak pernah cuba lagi buat kat rumah sendiri pun tak berani selalu beli yang dah siap je hehehe nampak dapat belajar ni mesti lebih mudah dan senangkan..
Kalau beli lagi mudah dan cepat, Maha. 😀 Buat sendiri memang fresh la, tapi takleh simpan lama macam yang beli kat kedai. Dan kalau kita takde mesin, kita cuma boleh buat yang bentuk leper macam ni je. Apa pun, kelas tu memang seronok.
Syokla dpt beljar buat pasta.. Seronok beljar ramai2 macam tu.. Siap uli semua. Lagi seronok kalau menjadi pasta tu.. Ehehe
Ya, Nadia, memang seronok buat pasta ni ramai-ramai. Meriah. Kitorang semua tergelak sebab semua dah kepenatan, tapi instructor tu asyik kata masih belum cukup nipis lagi. Akhirnya menjadi juga.
Rupanya ada nama lain dan bermacam nama pasta yee.. Sis biasa ‘pasta’ tapi tak tau nama jenisnya hahaha.. tapi biasa beli yang jenis Prego aje macam Ummi juga.. Tu pun biasa spiral dan spageti or macaroni, lain-lain paten macam rasa pelik hehehehe..
Setakat ni macam belum ada lagi kelas buat pasta yang Sis jumpa kat Johor ni..
Saya pun sama sis. Setakat ni pernah jumpa pasta yang biasa-biasa je macam spaghetti, linguine, fettuccine, angel hair, macaroni, penne, dan lain2. Tapi kat negara asal pasta ni sebenarnya ada berpuluh-puluh (mungkin beratus) jenis.
Interesting experience tho.. 🙂 I think Malaysia need to do more hands-on activities like this that open to both local and international tourists in near future.. I know Tourism actively promoting this for exposure too..
We actually do, Kitkat. I’ve seen nasi lemak cooking classes, pewter-making, batik-painting, pottery, and many more hands-on workshops in Malaysia that caters to tourists. Perhaps we don’t notice them because we’re so familiar with the local arts and crafts that we don’t feel the desire to learn them.
That’s sounds fun experience! Great ideas that we can travel cum attend some local cooking / hobbies classes while travelling. Would love to put in my travel planning too. Thanks sharing.
You’re welcome, Kathy. Yes, it was a fun experience. I love joining classes when I travel, especially if they involve food! 😀
I LOVE PASTA!!! And handmade pasta should be totally different from the one we buy from Supermarket right!!! So excited for u!!! 😉
Thank you, Afifah. If you love pasta, then you should definitely do this when you go to Italy. Personally I couldn’t really tell the difference, although it did feel a bit softer than the usual pasta I was used to. But perhaps you could. 🙂
Rumah mana rumah ..? hahaha rasa nak datang rumah suh awak buat Pasta yang dibelajar…tengok gambar pun tahu sedap. Sama macam kat Korea kan ada kelas belajar buat Kimchi ….
Saya pernah tengok jugak satu rancangan travel diorang ke Italy then masa tu kat kampung tu ada buat pesta wine. Tiap keluarga akan masak dan enjoy makanan sama2 orang kampung.
Sempat jugak saya ambik resepi Patata Cunzate dari rancangan tu sebab nampak sedap dan senang.
Oh bestnya kelas buat kimchi di Korea dan pesta wine di Itali tu. Thank you for sharing, Saidila. Nanti saya akan dapatkan info lebih lanjut. Btw, pasta yang saya buat tu biasa-biasa je rasanya. Entah la, agaknya tekak Melayu saya ni tak pandai bezakan kot. Hahaha.
Okay this is so nice remind me of Yilan where they provide something like this. Interesting and Malaysia should have this too
Oh, I didn’t know they have something similar in Yilan. I’ll look into it — thanks for letting me know. In Malaysia, we actually do have cooking classes for travelers. So far, I’ve seen nasi lemak cooking classes. I think that’s our national dish 😉
what an interesting experience it is to make your own pasta in the place it was created! cant wait to try that myself!
Indeed, Grace. I dig experiences like this when I travel. Especially that we eat pasta so much at home, it’s so cool to actually learn to make it yourself in its country of origin. 🙂 Hope you’ll get to try it yourself in the future!
bestnya dapat belajar ilmu baru. takpayah nak beli pasta ready made dh pasni kalau dh pandai buat sendiri
Memang best dapat belajar ilmu baru, FD. Tapi saya tak pernah pun buat pasta kat rumah lepas tu. Part yang nak kena giling dia sampai nipis tu yang malas.
You joined cooking class there ? Wow so lucky of you ! Good experience and for sure-lah makanan sedap2 kan.
Yes, I did, Precious! To be honest, I’m not really into pastas, but the food was great. 🙂
Menarik sangat2 process tu terbaik awak join kelas semasa travel. Ilmu y sangat2 mahal.. Tq for sharing ❤️
You’re welcome, Dia. Ya, saya memang suka join kelas2 macam ni bila travel. Sambil belajar budaya orang, sambil tambah ilmu baru. 🙂
Pingback:Learning to Cook Thai Food in Krabi (at Siam Cuisine Thai Cookery School) – Ummi Goes Where?