Italians perfected the art of making dried pasta in the16th century to create a food that could be stored for long periods and provide them with a meal in times of famine. Little has changed over the years as artisan pasta makers continue to preserve the traditional ways of making pasta by using perforated bronze plates that mold the pasta and by allowing for slow drying times. Dried pasta has always been more typical of Southern Italy because it keeps well in the hotter, drier climate of the south. Fresh pasta (pasta fresca), often made with eggs and often served with creamy sauces, has been more characteristic of the North especially in the region of Emilia Romagna where you can sample some of Italy’s finest pasta.
Short, thicker pastas like grooved penne or rigatoni are better with a full, meaty sauce while long, thinner pasta like spaghetti are best served with smoother sauces using oil. My friend Luigi, who has a doctorate in agronomy, gave me a short course on the different types of dried pasta by taking 5 popular pasta brands and rating them from best quality to least. A high quality pasta made with bronze dies gives a rough texture to the pasta.
The rougher the outside of the pasta the better the quality of the pasta. Why? because sauces will adhere better giving a more uniform and consistently delicious flavor to each bite.