Festivals and traditions

Fresh pasta tradition in Sicily

Fresh pasta in Sicily is an ancient tradition, much like many other aspects of our island’s culture. Its origins trace back to the era of Magna Graecia (8th century B.C.), when it was known by various names such as the Greek term láganon or the Mediterranean-rooted etymology makária or makarṓnia. It is the same term that entered the Latin vocabulary and later gave rise to the dialect terms maccarruna (macaroni) and the verb ammaccare (to crush).

From those ancient times, fresh pasta has traversed through centuries, evolving during the Middle Ages and arriving in the present day. But this isn’t the space to delve into the extensive history of pasta (that would require an entire encyclopedia!).

Instead, we’re going to explore how this tradition thrives today, the unique pasta shapes you can savor when visiting Sicily, and the diverse condiments that vary from city to city. Let’s embark on a journey to uncover the Sicilian fresh pasta tradition.

Time, skill, and passion: crafting Sicilian fresh pasta

The ingredients for fresh pasta are simple: durum wheat semolina flour and water. Egg pasta replaces water with eggs. But beyond these basic ingredients lie essential elements: time, skill, passion, strength, and experience.

The dough requires thorough kneading until smooth, sometimes for up to half an hour, depending on the amount being prepared. It’s crucial to adjust the water and flour appropriately and knowing the resting times of the dough. Skilled hands know precisely how to shape the dough, with each pasta format demanding different techniques. Experience plays a vital role here, as years of practice enable swift and precise gestures.

Observing an experienced Sicilian housewife crafting pasta is awe-inspiring, witnessing how effortlessly maccarruna or other shapes take form from her hands.

This skill is complemented by an understanding of essential tools. Wooden pastry boards and rolling pins are indispensable, alongside pasta wheels, cutters, and the pasta rolling machine. The artisanal process involve some traditional tools like pettine, used for lining the dough, or buso, which is nothing more than a thin shaft used for twisting busiate or making maccaruna (often replaced by a very thin knitting needle).

Traditional Sicilian fresh pasta formats and iconic dishes

Sicilian fresh pasta comes in many different shapes. What they have in common is their taste, which is simple but tastier than dry pasta, and their particular consistency, which is generally more rustic.

Since every pasta has its own favourite sauce, we present the three most popular shapes and suggest which version to try. So you know what to try on your next trip to Sicily.


Busiate, also known as maccheroni al ferro (because they are traditionally made with the buso mentioned a few lines above), are fresh pasta typical of western Sicily and the province of Trapani in particular. They are either long or short, and in both cases they have a characteristic twisted shape, a very tight spiral that absorbs the sauce.

We recommend them with Trapanese pesto, a condiment made with tomatoes, almonds, basil, garlic and pecorino cheese.


Maccarruna, or Sicilian macaroni, is different from that found in other parts of Italy. It is a long pasta, more like a large bucatini, with a smooth surface. It is also prepared using the buso and is characterised by a hole in the middle.

The texture is firm because the dough is prepared with a minimum of water. Maccarruna al sugo is a typical Sunday first course. It’s made with a rich tomato and meat-based sauce, slow-cooked to perfection and ideal fo scarpetta.


Honourable mention to stuffed pasta, which also has its own tradition in Sicily. Stuffed ravioli, square or crescent-shaped, are one of the specialities of our land.

The ricotta and wild herbs filling is the most classic, but modern cuisine also makes room for fish ravioli: try the grouper ravioli, not uncommon in some seaside towns.

Let’s conclude our culinary exploration with a note: those skilled in pasta-making aren’t limited to traditional formats and are not afraid to push the boundaries. Even Sicilian lasagna is a culinary delight!

If you wish to witness or learn the art of making fresh pasta firsthand, feel free to reach out to us, and we’ll guide you to the right resources. Alternatively, if you’d like to arrange a private dinner during your stay, our team can assist you in selecting a private chef.

Credit photos:

Homemade Maccarruna • Alfio Garozzo
Busiate alla Trapanese • Alessandro, Antipasteria Pizzeria Nautil
Maccarruna al sugo • Giuseppe Russo chef
Ravioli alla cernia • The Autumn Lady

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