Spaghettoni are the equivalent of Sienese pici and Venetian bigoli for dry pasta. This is the largest form of spaghetti, the emblematic long pasta whose name comes from the word spago, meaning twine.
Despite popular legend, spaghetti was not imported from China by Marco Polo when he returned to Venice at the end of the 13th century. This notion was invented by the Macaroni Journal in 1929, a magazine created by American pasta manufacturers (the National Macaroni Manufacturers Association) whose mission was to make Americans more familiar with pasta for commercial purposes.
In fact, we have various testimonies on the production of pasta before the Venetian’s journey, one of the first coming from the Arab geographer Al-Idrisi in his Tabula Rogeriana (1154). He described Sicily as the centre of significant maritime traffic and in particular the city of Trabia, where “a great deal of pasta is manufactured to be exported all over”. Pasta was supposedly imported to Europe by the Arabs at the time of their expansion into the world.
Although it is impossible to attribute the invention of spaghetti and more generally pasta to a specific culture with any certainty, the Italian peninsula has been the most important production hub of this food from the 12th century to today. In the common imaginary and throughout the world, pasta has become synonymous with Italian culture: “Spaghetti have just as much if not more right to belong to the Italian civilisation than does Dante”, said the famous Italian journalist and writer Giuseppe Prezzolini (Maccheroni & C., 1957).
“A dash of extra-virgin olive oil, a little pepper and a pinch of cheese are the best way to enjoy Spaghettoni Toscani” says Giovanni Fabbri, the fourth generation and owner of the company. Of course, spaghetti can be enjoyed with many different sauces, both simple and more complicated: cacio e pepe, a nice ragù or even all’aglione (a garlic sauce), as is done in Tuscany.