During the Arab domination of Sicily (827-1060), Palermo was the heart of commerce and exchange and one of the most important centers of the known world.
In this period, agriculture was expanded, the Arab system of irrigation and the cultivation of citrus fruits and rice was introduced. The products of Palermo ’s manufacturers were present all over Europe : jewelers produced precious and artistic masterpieces, fabulous textiles and dry goods were made, paper factories were raised to replace the expensive parchment.
This was a golden period in the history of this city: splendid buildings were built, an urban plane was conceived, and businesses and trades boomed.
The first pasta factory in the world was established in Trabia, a small town outside Palermo ; it was selected for its slightly humid climate, for the mild temperature, for the crystalline spring water without calcium or any other impurities and for the quality of the local grain, the durum wheat: these are necessary attributes to make good pasta.
Now in Trabia, pasta is made on a smaller scale, but the system and the art of making pasta from Trabia spread all over Italy and now Italy is the world’s biggest producer of pasta.
There are two types of pasta: artigianale and industrial.
Both types of pasta are good, but it pays to spend a little more money for the artigianale, because of the extra efforts made to produce better quality pasta.
The industrial pasta is made in large quantities by 183 big Italian companies, with a production of over 20 million pounds daily, 45% exported to Germany, France, the U.K. and the U.S.A
The pasta artigianale produced in modest quantity, it is made by craftsmen and is quasi hand made. It is manufactured by micro companies producing less than 5,000 pounds of pasta daily.
The pasta artigianale is made with semolina flour produced in Italy , it is kneaded with pure and mineral free water, pressed with bronze machinery, and dried at temperatures below one hundred degrees Fahrenheit for forty-eight hours.
The industrial type is made with durum wheat imported from USA and Canada , it is pressed with machines made with Teflon parts and to speed the process, it is dried at a temperature close to two hundred degrees Fahrenheit, for a short time.
In Sicily the pasta manufacturers are present in every large city and small town, most of their products are used locally.
Barbagallo and Poiatti in Catania, Gallo in Mazara del Vallo (Trapani), and Tommasello in Casteldaccia (Palermo) export pasta on a limited scale.