5 Most Popular Italian Pasta Shapes

By Stephen M

Italy and pasta are synonymous and the home of this popular food. About 3 million tons of the world’s pasta comes from Italy annually. The country exports less than 2 million tons to other countries, including the UK, USA, France, Germany, and Japan. This shows that Italians are heavy pasta consumers, and the average Italian eats about 23.5 kgs yearly. Also, in every four plates of pasta served worldwide, one comes from Italy. Pasta comes in different shapes and varieties. Here are the top five pasta shapes and how to prepare them.


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Penne is the most popular pasta in Italy and comes in different varieties. The quill-shaped pasta was first produced in 1865 in the town San Martino d’Albero. The most popular penne is rigate, and it comes with ridges along its surface. It is ideal for thick sauces, as its hollow nature makes it easier to hold the sauce. You can also enjoy it with large pieces of veggies.


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Spaghetti stands as one of the most popular pasta shapes worldwide. It mostly comes in 30cm in length and is cylindrical. It is best used in Puttanesca and Carbonara. Unlike the Penne, Spaghetti cannot hold the sauce and therefore suits lighter sauces. It is not suitable for bolognese sauce.


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Fusilli is another top-class Italian pasta you would want to try out. It is one of the favorites of people in the southern parts of the country. They come in twisted shape and are enjoyed best with ricotta-based or meat sauces.


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The name rigatoni comes from the ridges on the wide surface of this pasta. Unlike the penne cut diagonally, the rigatoni is cut straight and has a cylindrical shape. This tube pasta goes well with thick sauces.


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Tagliatelle dates back to the 15th century and still stands as one of the favorites of Italians. Originating from Italy’s Emilia-Romagna and Marche regions, it comes in flat ribbons with a 6-8mm wide surface. Enjoy your tagliatelle with meat-based sauces.

Here are just five of the numerous types of pasta in Italy and how to eat them. You can look out for the many other types in our subsequent piece.