FAMILY & PARENTING

84-Year-Old Italian Woman Teaches People To Make Authentic Italian Pasta In Online Classes

by Karen Belz
Karen Belz has written for sites such as Bustle, HelloGiggles, Romper, and So Yummy. She's the mom of a sassy toddler and drinks an alarming amount of Sugar-Free Red Bull in order to keep up with her.

Having to stay at home hasn’t been the most fun for everyone, but we’re all trying to make it work. For some of us, that means going on Instagram Live to try to entertain our friends.

But for Italian grandmother Nonna Nerina, that means giving cooking classes to those interested. Nonna’s show is called Nonna Live, and granddaughter Chiara Nicolanti is responsible for making it happen.

Nonna lives in Palombara Sabina, which is located just outside of Rome. Her specialty is pasta. In the series, she’s dazzled thousands with her gnocchi, fettuccine, and ravioli — just to name a few. Even better, she’s making money from it.

That’s right.

Nonna takes this seriously. She has over a thousand people enrolled in her class, and tuition costs $60, according to Good Morning America. The morning show had the chance to interview both Nonna and Chiara and ended up learning how Nonna seemed to spring into fame.

“Every time I tell her, ‘Nonna, you are famous!’ she laughs at me,” Chiara said. “She replies ‘You are crazy, baby.'” But the numbers don’t lie. A lot of people are looking up to her right now and will be better chefs because of it. Here’s how Nonna handles her class.

Nonna Nerina makes sure to offer step-by-step instructions for her class. Typically, classes run for two hours. Students are also prepared with all of the ingredients they need because Nonna sends out a list prior to the class starting. Good Morning America says that she also sends translated notes to help out even further.

In Nonna’s eyes, making pasta is a great way to boost your spirits. And the fact that each student has a meal to look forward to at the end of class is also a big win. “It’s a way to stay together, keep the spirit up (a pasta-therapy), and you will have a great dish to eat at the end,” Chiara explained.

These two have been working together for quite some time. Even though the virus might have inspired people to check out her tutorials, Nonna also hosted classes in person before everything happened. Much like now, Chiara helped it happen. The classes were a collaboration with Airbnb, and Nonna taught thousands of people the art of pasta making.

But Nonna Live was a completely different experience. Since it was a live broadcast, Nonna didn’t have the physical audience that she was used to. But she made it work — and people couldn’t be happier to expand their cooking knowledge from the safety of their own homes.

Her in-person classes were definitely a hit. “Great day learning pasta making from an expert,” said one reviewer, per Travel & Leisure. “Made three types of pasta, had a huge meal eating it all, drank some wine and coffee and shared stories. Definitely a highlight of our quick trip to Rome and highly recommend!”

Chiara has said that the new platform has changed up Nonna’s process just a little bit. For example, the class was supposed to be just an hour long. But since it took a little time to get used to the livestream, it actually ended up being two hours.

“It was supposed to be an hour class, and it lasted two hours, and people were laughing all the time,” Chiara said to Matador Network. “She never stops, she never waits for me, so it was really crazy, but I think this is what people want. They want an Italian grandma making a mess with them for an hour.”

Chiara runs her own classes during the week. Nonna Nerina just joins in on the weekends. While you may assume that pasta is a pretty easy food to figure out, there’s a lot to it that you might not think about. For example, the ingredients are easy. But the technique is really important.

“For the handmade pasta it’s not just the ingredients,” Chiara said to Matador Network. “It’s really the hand technique, and it is something that an Italian grandma can teach you.” Eventually, she’s hoping to get other grandmothers involved who have something to teach.

Chiara thinks the class is popular not just because of the love of pasta but also for the need for family right now. “I think that this moment is forcing us to stop, and we can use this time to speak and share memories and share traditions and good bites,” she continued. “I think it’s very important in this moment when everybody is forced to stay alone to not feel solitude.”

There are other benefits to capturing these moments on video. For one, if they’re taping and not just livestreaming, they’ll be able to capture Nonna Nerina’s talents for generations to come. Being able to cook is an incredible gift, but having lessons taught to you by relatives is priceless.

For those of us at home, we’re not just getting a cooking lesson. We’re also getting the chance to chat up a grandmother, which is ideal if our own grandmas aren’t as technologically savvy. Since so many of us miss hanging out with our family, this may be the next best thing.

Nonna Nerina’s classes are great for everyone. Cooking will always be a worthwhile skill, and pasta is a dish that everyone loves. Bringing her presentations online for everyone to enjoy was a great idea. Plus, after one class, you may never buy boxed pasta ever again.

To register, go to Nonna’s website at NonnaLive.com. There they have the schedule posted for all of the classes currently available online. All the recipes used are straight from the family, so it’s truly an experience you won’t be able to find anywhere else.