Quarantine Activity Idea: Learn How to Make Pasta From an Italian Grandma Online

Nonna Nerina lives in the village of Palombara Sabina just outside Rome, and while she's sheltering at home making pasta, you can be, too.
March 31, 2020, 11:00am
handmade pasta spaghetti
Photo: Getty Images

There are currently 113 cooking-related Airbnb Experiences in Rome, and it's safe to say that the majority involve making handmade pasta. The classes range from $108-per-person class inside a former pasta factory to a Roman chef's three-hour "no machinery allowed" cooking session to a mother and son who swear that you'll "make pasta, not war."

One of the most popular experiences is called "Handmade pasta with grandma," and it delivers exactly what its description promises: Participants spend three hours in an 84-year-old Nonna Nerina's kitchen, learning how to make three different high-carb dinners.

"Whenever I sat in my grandma's kitchen growing up, she’d make pasta while sharing memories of her own mom and grandma. I soon realized my generation was missing something important: The handmade pasta techniques and traditions passed down through the ages," Nonna Nerina's granddaughter, Chiara, wrote.

"I asked if I could post photos online, to which she replied, 'Do what you want, I don’t understand you at all.' Today, she knows what an impact she’s making because people from all over the world come to our home to cook with her, making her very happy."

Nonna Nerina lives in the village of Palombara Sabina just outside Rome, and she's obviously not able to welcome any visitors right now. In addition to Italy's ongoing and widespread coronavirus crisis, Airbnb has suspended all of its Experiences through April 3.

But fortunately for anyone who would like to spend their ongoing quarantine learning a new skill –– or for anyone who just misses their own grandma right now –– Nonna Nerina has brought her pasta-making class to the internet. You can reserve a spot through the Nonna Live website, and for $50 you get to spend a couple of hours not thinking about pandemics or R0 calculations, or whether or not you have enough toilet paper to get through the rest of the weekend.

Nonna Nerina teaches the class every Saturday and Sunday, although there are alternate opportunities to make gnocchi and ravioli during the week as well. Several days before the class, participants will get a shopping list with essential ingredients and cooking utensils, along with some carefully translated notes from the OG Nonna herself. (The website does note that occasionally Nerina's sister fills in for her.)

If you like the idea of turning off cable news, the internet, and your unyielding anxiety for a few minutes but don't want to have to fill your own ravioli, the Pasta Grannies YouTube channel is still serving a steady stream of other Italian grandmothers making their own signature dishes, too. There are currently more than 250 videos available, and there might not be a more soothing way to temporarily forget about... you know, literally everything else.

Well, at least not until Nonna Nerina's actual kitchen is accepting in-person reservations again.

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