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Zitoni: Everything About the Pasta Shape

Tube-shaped pastas are widely regarded for their versatility, accessibility, and their ability to hold sauces really well. A great example of this is zitoni pasta. Have you heard of it? 

You may know zitoni’s more popular brother, ziti. Interestingly, their name comes from the Italian word “zitelle” which means “single woman” as it was customary to serve ziti or zitoni pasta during weddings in Southern Italy. Zitoni is one of the go-to pastas to serve during feasts and holidays. 

Come along as we discuss everything there is to know about zitoni pasta and share a few delicious recipes you can try yourself. Let’s dive in!

Zitoni: Origin and Meaning

Here’s a table with essential facts about zitoni: 

Pasta Shape:Zitoni
Pasta Type:Tube-shaped Pasta
Length:Around 25 cm (9.8 in)
Origin:Campania, Italy
Meaning:Comes from “zitelle” the Italian word for “single woman”
Synonyms:Ziti, mezzi ziti, ziti campani
Similar Shapes:Gramigna, bucatini, Spaghettoni

Where Did Zitoni Originate?

Like a lot of great pasta varieties, Zitoni was born in Campania, a coastal region in Italy. These long, narrow tubes are commonly seen in various dishes across the region, especially during feasts or holidays. 

What Does Zitoni Mean?

The word “zitoni” comes from the word “zita” which means “single.” Originally called “zite,” this pasta was traditionally served at Italian weddings, commemorating the woman’s transition from “zita” to wife. 

Aside from weddings, zitoni is also commonly served during holidays, family occasions, or feasts. As per Italian tradition, every woman in the family gathers together and performs the ritual of breaking the pasta together. The broken pasta will then be cooked and served to the whole family. 

What Is the Difference Between Zitoni and Ziti?

Ziti and zitoni are two different sizes of the same pasta. The more popular one, ziti, is shorter and usually narrower, while zitoni is cut longer and is much more similar to bucatini. 

Both zitoni and ziti can be enjoyed in similar ways. Ziti is more commonly used in pasta bakes and salads while zitoni is much more prominent is thick and chunky sauces such as bolognese. 

Traditional Dishes Suitable for Zitoni Pasta

Here are some traditional dishes you can make with zitoni pasta:

Zitoni with Genovese Ragu 

Traditionally, zitoni is prepared with a homemade slow-cooked ragu. If you have a lot of free time, try making your sauce from scratch. It is definitely worth the effort.  


Timballo is a large pasta bake that contains meat, pasta, and vegetables. Adding zitoni to this Italian classic is a tried and tested way of adding texture to a complex dish. 

These simple but delicious dishes are just a few ways you can enjoy zitoni pasta.  

Final Thoughts 

Zitoni pasta is a great way to elevate your pasta dishes. It is a versatile and unique pasta variety that is both forgiving and flexible. It can pair well with creamy sauces, chunky sauces, and even shine in pasta salads or pasta bakes. If you’re looking for the next pasta shape to try out, look no further than zitoni. 

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