Gragnano pasta: history and properties

pasta di Gragnano corta

Gragnano is an Italian municipality, about 31 km from Naples. Known for being the area where one of the Made in Italy products of excellence is produced: the famous Gragnano pasta (recognized in Europe with the name PGI: Protected Geographical Indication). Thanks to simple ingredients such as durum wheat flour and thewater from the local aquifer, a mixture is obtained which - when properly dried - allows us to obtain a product of notable quality, recognized as a pride of our country.

Let's discover together something more about the history of Gragnano pasta.

Gragnano pasta: history and curiosities

The tradition of Gragnano pasta is truly very ancient and dates back to the era of Romans. In that period, the inhabitants of the place and of neighboring cities such as Pompeii and Herculaneum exploited the strength of the Vernotico stream which descended towards the Vesuvian valley, to grind the wheat, the flour of which was destined for the preparation of bread. The need of the poorest populations to have access to a food that could be preserved over time and which also managed to ensure a good caloric intake and above all a low cost, led to the first production of dried pasta. The success of this food, however, came in conjunction with the famine that hit this area between the 16th and 17th centuries: the main need was precisely that of having an economical food available, capable of satisfying and with a long shelf life.
During 17th century there was the real thing boom in pasta production, when the famous “Macaroni” of the Kingdom of Naples, they could count on a significant quantity of pasta to sell at low cost, by virtue of the good production of wheat; at the same time, several mills and pasta factories were created in the areas of Gragnano where there was abundant availability of water.

Gragnano, city of macaroni

The first recognition of Gragnano pasta is due to King Ferdinand of Bourbon which in 1845 gave the town's producers the opportunity to supply long pasta for a court lunch. From that moment, Gragnano had the nickname of "City of Macaroni“. The consequences were obvious with the majority of the population engaged in the production of pasta and with the city streets being transformed, as was the Gragnano structure, into a place where the pasta was left to dry.
At the end of the800, also thanks to the arrival of the railway network, there was a notable increase in pasta exports, especially towards the countries where there were the greatest Italian migratory flows, such as the United States. Together with the nearby city of Torre Annunziata, Gragnano became a real one pasta production hub and until the beginning of the First World War they experienced flourishing trade and an increase in exports.

The history of Gragnano pasta since the post-war period

With the start of the war operations there was a violent period of crisis which also affected the pasta industry, a situation which then worsened further during the years of fascism, due to the battle for wheat and the need to fill the gap between the pasta factories of Northern and Southern Italy.
From the Second World War to the present day, large pasta factories in the center and north have experienced notable expansion, to the detriment of those in the south. Today a single pasta factory survives in Torre Annunziata, while the Gragnano tradition it somehow managed to be safeguarded thanks to the most established pasta factories that have managed to resist all the economic difficulties.

Properties of Gragnano pasta

The basic ingredients of this pasta are characterized by durum wheat semolina and water from the local aquifer. Gragnano pasta is characterized by a straw yellow colour, due to the complete absence of malformations on the shape and cut, it must not have stains or bubbles. Although over the years, pasta masters have dabbled with different types of formats, the most common ones are represented by spaghetti, pacciarielli, scialatielli, penne rigate, linguine, fusilloni. One of the main strengths of Gragnano pasta is given by the fact that it presents a wrinkled surface which on the one hand ensures a cooked perfectly al dente and on the other hand, it favors the binding of the sauce to the pasta. This is made possible thanks to the use of details bronze dies, in various formats.
Gragnano pasta is certainly one of the typical foods for those who wish to follow the classic Mediterranean diet but also for all those who don't want to give up a good plate of carbohydrates for lunch or dinner.

80 g of dry Gragnano pasta: 353 kcal

Furthermore, in recent years, Gragnano pasta has been present also gluten-free and therefore it can be consumed without problems even by celiacs. Water from the local aquifer is used together with corn and rice flours and the mixture is dried slowly and at low temperature in order to obtain a Excellent quality pasta for celiacs.

We love spaghetti from Gragnano. We like to serve them fresh clams true or to bacon and egg (with organic eggs, Amatrice bacon,
pecorino Romano DOP and mixture of 5 peppers). Check it out a la carte menu.