Pasta: Shapes, Designs, Colors, Origins, and Nutritional Data for Various Types

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George Legendre describes pasta types mathematically through ranges , and equations , , . These equations can be used to visualize the shape, cross section, and profile of different pasta types.


Organizing all available shapes and forms of pasta is a challenging task. The Morphological Classification of Italian Pasta by David Alexander contains eight classes, including the province of origin for each pasta type. Wolfram|Alpha was used as the source for the nutritional data.

This Demonstration shows characteristics for a set of 12 pasta types: their shape in 2D or 3D, their geographic origin on a map of Italy, and the nutritional data as a table (including a sketch of the pasta type). The color of the pasta in 3D can be changed as an option.


Contributed by: Guenther Gsaller (December 2015)
Open content licensed under CC BY-NC-SA



Legendre [1] describes pasta types through ranges , and equations , , .

For the Gramigna shape, the equations are:

with running from 0 to 25 and from 0 to 150.

The triple describes the 3D surface, the pair the cross section, and the pair the profile.

There is a checkbox to switch the axes on/off in all three plots. The units are in millimeters (mm).

Alexander classifies Italian pastas in eight families in his morphological taxonomy [2]:

Families of Italian pasta: (1) spaghetti, (2) tubular, (3) shell, (4) ribbon, (5) short, (6) micro pasta, (7) ravioli, (8) dumpling.

Furthermore, he lists examples for each class of pasta shape, including their geographical origin. For example, tortellini are grouped within family 7, the filled pasta, and they originated in Bologna (Romagna).

For each example shape in this Demonstration, the province of its geographical origin is displayed in orange on a map of Italy. The names of the provinces are displayed while the mouse pointer is in the area of the corresponding province.

For the nutritional calculations, one serving (2 oz/57 g) of pasta was used. In Wolfram|Alpha, for several pasta shapes the nutrition facts were not available. For some of these cases, similar shapes were substituted (e.g. Rotini was used for Fusili).


[1] G. L. Legendre, Pasta by Design, London: Thames & Hudson, 2011.

[2] D. Alexander, "The Geography of Italian Pasta," Professional Geographer, 52(3), 2000 pp. 553–566. doi:10.1111/0033-0124.00246.

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