The Italian Pasta Capital Isn’t Where You Might Think – It’s in Abruzzo!
For devoted pasta lovers on a trip to Italy, there’s one town that should be on your must-see list. Sure, Rome is home to beloved pasta dishes like carbonara and amatriciana. And Naples has a huge concentration of pasta factories, including on the tiny street where Giada’s great-grandfather once made his own pasta. But only one place is known as “the Capital of Pasta”: Fara San Martino.
This tiny town (population 1,300) in the central region of Abruzzo sits at the foot of the Majella mountains, a stunning snow-capped range in the Apennines that is a protected national park. A Roman settlement some 2,000 years ago, the town’s modern origins lie with the Benedictine monks who built the monastery of San Martino in Valle here in the 10th century. While much of it was lost during the bombings of World War II, the town’s Via Terra Vecchia (“ancient land”) still shows the distinctive stone architecture of centuries gone by. Most importantly for the pasta, the town sits on the banks of the Verde River, which carries pristine mountain spring water down to the Adriatic Sea. It was to make use of that precious water that pasta makers first set up shop here in the late 19th century. With a close proximity to durum wheat farmers in the nearby plains and the best water in Italy, these intrepid pasta makers had everything they needed to produce some of the purest, most delicious pasta in the country.
Today, the town is home to four major pasta companies, the most notable of which is De Cecco, which you’ll probably recognize in your local grocery store. Pasta is Fara San Martino’s main industry, and it’s one that locals take very seriously. Every August, in fact, the town throws a two-day festival, the Sagra Della Pasta De Cecco, to celebrate all things pasta. Stop by the central piazza to taste their famous pastas, including Abruzzo’s regional favorite shape spaghetti chitarra, as well as other local delicacies.