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Dry, with simple oil, butter or tomato accompaniments, or with cheese sauces. Also ideal for cold summer salads

All regions of Italy
Particularly popular in Liguria

The term is inspired by the wings of a butterfly (or farfalla in Italian), which the pasta resembles. This variety is also referred to as stricchetti, from a dialect form of the verb stringere (“to tighten”), referring to the central pinch, and galani, named after the bow-tie worn with a tuxedo. In Umbria, they are also called fiocchetti, again because of their resemblance to a bow-tie, and in Abruzzo and Puglia, nocchette, from the southern Italian term nocca, to indicate a knotted ribbon.


Farfalle conjure up, both in shape and in the imagination, the graceful multicolored creatures that hover in our gardens. Their large wings collect the sauce and retain it in the central fold, while the pinch offers a contrasting texture on the palate that enhances the condiments. Originally made from thin sheets of dough pinched by hand, they were once also called stricchetti.

Symbols and naturalistic memories are hidden among the pasta shapes, acccording to an amusing passage written by Cesare Marchi:

«Pasta unleashes a waltz of metaphors in the mind: spaghetti, spaghettini, penne, pennoni, rigatoni, bucatoni, fidelini, trenette, tortiglioni. Some come from the world of zoology, such as farfalle (butterflies), farfalline (small butterflies).... Others from religion: capelli d’angelo (angel hair), maniche di frate (priest sleeves), avemmaria (Hail Mary), cappelli da prete (priest hats).»
From: Marchi, Cesare, Quando siamo a tavola
Milan (I), Rizzoli, 1990.

A recipe


Farfalle with white eggplant sauce

Ingredients for 4 servings

  • ⅝ lb farfalle (bow tie) pasta
  • ⅝ lb eggplant
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small bunch basil
  • salt and pepper
  • frying oil (optional)


Bring a saucepan of well-salted water to a boil. Cut the eggplant flesh into large pieces. Boil in the salted water until softened, about 10 minutes. Drain and transfer the eggplant to a blender. Add the basil leaves and a pinch of salt and pepper. Blend until you have a smooth, thick sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper and keep warm over medium heat.
Bring a large pot of well salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta until al dente, drain, and add to the sauce. Add the extra-virgin olive oil and cook briefly, stirring. Transfer to pasta dishes and serve. (If you like, try garnishing with thinly sliced eggplant skin briefly fried in oil.)