Making Fresh Pasta with a Nonna in Bologna, Italy

The amazing Bologna cooking class you should take while in Bologna!

I love taking cooking classes when I travel. I especially like learning to cook in someone’s private home, which offers a more personal experience than a cooking school.

So while I was in Bologna, Italy, I signed up for a pasta-making class with Le Cesarine, an Italian cooking school that specializes in home cooking. Where better to learn how to make pasta than from a nonna in Italy?

My Bologna Cooking Class Experience

On the morning of the class, I took a bus to my instructor’s house. There, I met Luisa, who warmly welcomed me into her beautiful, art-filled apartment.

Once Luisa handed me an apron, I knew it was time to get to work. Through a mishmash of Italian, English, and Spanish, I found out we would be making tortelloni, which are basically over-sized tortellini.

First step: making the dough. This was simple enough – just crack an egg into 100 grams of flour, and mix with your hands.

The amazing Bologna cooking class you should take while in Bologna!

Then, you roll out the dough. As Luisa massaged the dough back and forth, I thought it looked fairly straightforward.

Then when it was my turn, I discovered rolling dough is much like figure-skating — it only looks easy to the outside eye. It turns out rolling out dough takes a surprising amount of muscle. Honestly, it was kind of exhausting.

Once the dough was ready, we cut it into squares and stuffed it with ricotta and spinach.

The amazing Bologna cooking class you should take while in Bologna!

Next, we folded the tortellini. This was surprisingly hard – you want to make sure to fully close the tortelloni — otherwise, the filling will come out when the pasta is boiling.

The amazing Bologna cooking class you should take while in Bologna!

Once we finished folding the pasta, we gently placed it in hot water to boil. Thankfully, this only took a few minutes as I was dying to try our creation.

Once the pasta was ready, Luisa swirled it around in a bowl with a few sage leaves and a pat of butter, which must be the world’s easiest pasta sauce. She then sprinkled the pasta with freshly grated parmesan.

And then, it was time to eat. We sat down at the table with Luisa’s 87-year old grandmother, who immediately cracked open a bottle of Lambrusco.

Which we drank at noon. On a weekday.

I love Italy.

The amazing Bologna cooking class you should take while in Bologna!
The amazing Bologna cooking class you should take while in Bologna!

My cooking class in Bologna was one of the highlights of my trip to Italy. I loved spending time with an Italian family, as well as learning how to make a dish that has been passed down for generations. I enjoyed how the class was very small — just me and one other student.

Though I doubt I’ll be making fresh pasta any time soon, I certainly appreciate it the effort that goes into it more than ever. And I’ve made sage and butter sauce, a dish more at my skill level, many times since.

A big thanks to Le Cesarine for the complimentary cooking class. They in no way requested that I write a favorable review, and all opinions are (as always) my own. Cooking classes at Le Cesarine cost between 45-100€ per person, depending on the menu and number of guests.

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