Bologna & the Art of Rolling Pasta


In 2009, during the onset of autumn, I visited Bologna for the first time. She had at me at a glance when I was living in a beautiful hotel right on the square with my parents. 

The smell, colours and sounds of the city centre are so unique, unlike any other Italian city I have visited. During that trip, I was intrigued to see the Annual pasta rolling competition- Il Matterello d’Oro (the golden rolling pin). Of course, the winner got a golden pasta rolling pin. 

This little experience stayed in my mind, and as usual, I enquired more. I found out that fresh pasta is often made and rolled by women in Italy. These women are called Sfogline (pasta rolling ladies). Some of the best restaurants in Italy have strong, beautiful women rolling pasta-this art is passed down in Italy through generations. In the legendary Italian Chef Massimo Bottura’s restaurant- Osteria Francescana, wonderful Sfogline (pasta rolling ladies) still make the pasta for you. The more delicate fingers of women make better pasta, especially tortellini. 

The competition took place in a high ceilinged old building right on the square, which I just happened to come across while exploring the square. There were over 70 people who were competing that day, and the competition had already begun. I watched quietly and curiously from the sidelines. They kept rolling and re-rolling the pasta dough by hand. The idea was to roll out the thinnest and biggest pasta sheet correctly, with no tears or holes. 

The Italian culture is so close to home for me. All the fantastic people I’ve met along my many journeys in Italy, some of whom I still call family and friends, are missed. I pray for Mother Earth and us to heal well and heal soon, so we can all go back to travelling, exchanging more smiles, history and tales from lands far away. 

Here is a basic pasta dough recipe. You can watch my video to see how to roll out pasta at home with just a rolling pin. 

Fresh pasta dough recipe

  • Ingredients 
  • 200 gms of flour. (Italian ‘00’ flour if possible) 
  • 2 large fresh eggs (the fresher, the tastier your pasta will be)
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • A pinch of sea salt

Make the homemade pasta dough.

  • Sift the flour onto a clean work surface and use your fist to make a well in the centre.
  • Break the eggs into the well. Add the oil and a pinch of salt to the well.
  • Gradually mix the egg mixture into the flour using a fork, bringing the ingredients together into a firm dough, working inside out. 
  • If the dough feels too dry, add a few drops of water; if the dough feels too wet, add a little more flour. 
  • After your first time, you will get more accustomed to the dough.
  • Do not add too much flour on the surface as it may make your dough very tough and dry.
  • Knead the pasta dough until it is smooth, 2 to 5 minutes. 
  • Keep the dough in the refrigerated very tight sealed in a resealable plastic bag or cling wrap.

You can watch my video here, learn how to roll it out pasta with just a rolling pin and make handmade fettuccini!

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