Pasta Names and Shapes… Explained! | Italia Mia |

Bucatini, spaghetti, tortellini, rigatoni: There are hundreds of kinds of Italian pastas, and each one has its own, special name. That’s pretty confusing… but it’s also fun!

We’ve said many times before that Italian food is regional (in fact, there’s no such thing as “Italian food”). Pasta is a major part of that. Local kinds of pasta in Tuscany differ from those in Rome, Milan, or Puglia.

For us, though, one of the really fun things about Italian pasta—and the names of Italian pastas—are that each pasta name actually means something. Usually, in fact, the name gives away the shape of the pasta itself.

Want proof? Here are just some of our favorite pastas, and what their names mean in Italian!

  • Bucatini: One of the most popular kinds of pasta in Rome, bucatini look like thick spaghetti—but they have a tiny hole in the middle. (Think of a Twizzler!). What does bucatini mean? “Little holes!”. (Buco means hole, while adding an -ino, or -ini for plural, means “small”).
  • Cannelloni: These big tubes of pasta (usually stuffed and popped in the oven) are named after, well, “big tubes.” (Adding -one, or -oni for plural, means “big”).