A filmmaker’s project to capture the art of handmade pasta has turned the so-called “pasta nonnas” featured in her videos into a social media sensation.
Since moving to Italy’s Le Marche region, Vicky Bennison, a former international development worker, has filmed more than 200 nonnas (grandmothers) over the past four years making all sorts of pasta, from gnocchi in the Italian Alps to orecchiette in Puglia. Her YouTube channel featuring the “Pasta Grannies” has become a runaway hit, racking up 455,000 subscribers.
“The grannies are the last generation that had to make pasta every day to feed their families,” Bennison says. “I wanted to celebrate older women and their experiences. These women are survivors.” They include Tuscan nonna Giuseppina Spiganti, 93 (above), who shows YouTube viewers how to make spaghetti-like “pici” pasta. The videos are a kind of oral history, often recording unique recipes.
But it’s the grannies themselves who have won global appeal. “It’s not about pasta-making really,” says Bennison. “It’s more like a warm hug.”