We went to Gragnano, Italy to take a close look at the world of Gragnano Pasta and it was a dream! One of the absolute best parts of spending extended time in Italy is having friends that can always help us plan and prepare for trips. This was no exception. We went to Gragnano with the sole mission of looking for and shopping for Pasta di Gragnano. Thus, this post focuses primarily on pasta.
What Is Gragnano?
Gragnano is a lovely hill town located about 45 minutes east of the Amalfi coast. It’s a 1-hour 15-minute drive south of Naples (depending on traffic). Gragnano is small, with a population of about 30,000 people as of 2021. The town is in the hills, so if arriving from the Amalfi coast you make your way up.
Gragnano is a place, however, it’s also the name of a type of pasta. This is because Gragnano is famous for producing pasta. The town is also called ‘City of the Pasta’ or ‘Città della Pasta’. Today many pastafici (pasta manufacturers) still have their factories in Gragnano. In fact, at one point in history, almost every family in Gragnano made pasta. The city is surrounded on three sides by mountains and one side the sea. This creates the perfect ‘micro’climate’ for slow-drying pasta. Before the pasta industry was revolutionized manufacturers would hang dry the pasta outside the windows of the factories. It’s said that the buildings in town are positioned in a specific way to allow wind to flow through Via Roma, where most of the factories were built. Today the process is mechanized, however, you can walk around Via Roma and see remnants of the past.
How to Get to Gragnano, Italy
The best way to arrive in Gragnano is by car. Taking public transportation into the hills of south Italy is a challenge. And that’s putting it lightly. If you don’t feel comfortable driving in Italy, especially Campania, we don’t blame you. We recommend hiring a driver or look into a small group tour. A travel planner, like Cassandra from Travel Italian Style, can help with this.
What Is Gragnano Pasta?
Gragnano pasta is dried pasta produced in the city of Gragnano using only durum wheat, semolina and water from Gragnano’s spring. In Italian, it’s called Pasta di Gragnano and is IGP which stands for Indicazione Geografica Protetta. In English, this translates to Protected Geographical Indication (PGI). IGP is an origin trademark given by the European Union. The IPR New York Italian Trade Commission defines it by stating “[PGI] covers agricultural products and foodstuffs closely linked to the geographical area. At least one of the stages of production, processing or preparation takes place in the area“. Let’s unpack that.
Gragnano pasta is regulated. Italy has its faults, but it is very serious when it comes to food. Wheat for Gragnano pasta can (and often does) come from other parts of Italy and/or the world. In addition, technically speaking Pasta di Gragnano can be produced in other parts of Italy. This is because of the second sentence where it states ‘at least one of the stages’. However, all of these things are ‘controllato’ as we say in Italian. They’re monitored to ensure the integrity of the product remains intact.
Gragnano pasta must be made with water from Gragnano which is low in calcium, extruded with a bronze die, and use high-protein durum wheat.
Pastafici In Gragnano
There’s a very high concentration of pastafici (pasta houses) in Gragnano! It’s truly incredible. When visiting a pastaficio you can usually pop in and take a look around their front ‘shop’. Don’t expect anything formal. After all, these are artisans working with flour and water all day long. They’re in the back making fresh pasta and might come out to great you if they don’t have someone running the shop. This is the way we like to meet makers most as its the way EXAU operates!
Faella and Gentile are probably the most famous pastifici in Gragnano but you should definitely take a peek at some of the smaller places like La Fabbrica della Pasta and more. Go on a deep google search and see what you find. Some of the brands might be available in the U.S. However, if they’re small it might be tough. The good news is, more and more small produces are working with U.S. importers so their products are becoming available on Amazon or specialty markets.
The Best Pasta in Gragnano
If you haven’t figured it out by now we absolutely love food, but especially pasta. Right now we don’t know which is the best pasta in Gragnano. However, over the next few weeks, we will be taste testing each one thoroughly and come back with a response!
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