Pasta Making Class in Tuscany

My pasta making skills are, at best, marginal.  I adore the taste and ever-so-slightly doughy texture of fresh pasta.  Living for many years in a New Jersey suburb next to a town named Verona and a mere 15 miles from Little Italy in New York City meant never having to make my own.

One of my biggest shocks after moving to a suburb of Zurich, Switzerland (just a few hours by train or car from the Italian border) was the difficulty in finding fresh pasta any day or time I had a hankering.  My local stores sell fresh pasta but not FRESH pasta. So, I decided I had better learn to make my own.

After pouring over pasta making books, I decided it was time to go to the source to hone my skills.  Italy!  My goal was to find the owner of a handmade pasta shop in a small town who was willing to teach me more.

That is when I found Wilma, owner of Pasta Fresca, a tiny, artisanal, handmade pasta shop in the small Tuscan town of Tavarnelle Val di Pesa, located between Florence and Siena.

Despite her limited English, Wilma came highly recommended.  She has taught handmade pasta classes for years and years in her shop so my husband, daughter and I booked a session with her, packed the car and headed to Tuscany.

Her class was wonderful.  In a small room behind her shop, we mixed, kneaded, stretched and rolled the dough before making numerous varieties of plain and filled pasta using different flours.  An English-speaking neighbor dropped by during the class and gave us a spirited lecture about the French having no right to look down on Italian cuisine as it was, in fact, the Italian Catherine de Médicis who, upon her arrival in France in the 16th century, introduced the French to fine dining.

When our pastas were finished (and after I took some ribbing about how my non-cooking, yet patient and precise, husband made nicer looking pasta than me) we went upstairs to eat.  She had prepared some spectacular sauces and we have possibly never had such a wonderful pasta meal in our lives.  After lunch, Wilma took us to the local coffee shop where we slammed down espresso in well under a minute, as one does in Italy, and said our goodbyes.

I will never be as skilled as Wilma or Jack, but that doesn’t matter. To my mind, very few culinary undertakings provide the same satisfying, relaxing experience as mixing, kneading, resting, rolling, cutting and shaping pasta dough then being so richly rewarded for your efforts.

Pasta Fresca

Benedetto Naldini 17

50028 Tavarnelle Val di Pesa, Italy

Laughing Lemon


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