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spaghettiItalian is the one national cuisine to have become such a raving international success that many of us cannot imagine our diets without it, and if there is one thing that makes us thing instantly of Italian cooking it is pasta.

Pasta as we know it today was not brought back to Italy from the East by Marco Polo or any other explorer, as we are often led to believe, but was developed in Italy itself, on the Isle of Sicily, after the Arabs introduced Durum wheat to the area in the 7th century.

At first, there were very few pasta shapes. Mainly they were sheets, like lasagne, or noodles like tagliatelle. As the years went by however, the Italians got creative with pasta shapes and now there are over 600 different pasta shapes worldwide. But why bother? The Italians and all good chefs know why: each shape is good for different kinds of sauce. Some go best with meaty, chincky sauces, others with thin delicate sauces and still others with rich, thick sauces, others in soups and still others for gateaux or for pasta salads.

There are also different kinds of pasta. The one we find most of the shapes in is the simplest kind made only from pasta flour and water, but you can also find dried egg pasta with whole eggs replacing much of the water. This can be found dried or fresh depending on the use you wish to make of it, although it should be pointed out that fresh is not always better than dry – in fact most of the pasta eaten by the Italians is of the dried variety.

Most of the pasta recipes we find are not original Italian recipes but are Anglicised or Italian-American versions , although some of them (spaghetti carbonara, lasagne, pasta primavera...) have the same names. To try real, original pasta made in the Italian way, you really have to visit the Bel Paese itself. If you are something of a gourmet, Italy might be the perfect place for you to search for a wedding venue (link locations) or honeymoon location (link locations).

Whether you want to learn how to make and cook pasta on an authentic Italian cookery course,  serve delicious plates of this comforting favourite at your wedding or simply sample it in its natural habitat in some of the best Italian restaurants in the country, Italy is the very best place to go.

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