‘Gigli‘ is also known by the names ‘Campanelle‘ (little bells) and ‘Riccioli‘ (curls). However, the word ‘Gigli’ means ‘lilies’.
The origin of gigli pasta
The lily is believed to have been the emblem of Tuscany since the time of the Roman Empire, making Gigli the pasta of Tuscany.
The city of Florence has proudly carried the ‘Giglio‘ (lily) on their coat of arms for almost a thousand years. There are many different myths, legends and stories that tell of when and how the city of Florence was founded and the subsequent origin of Gigli. For example, Florence was formed during the period of the so-called ‘flower celebration’ honoring the goddess Flora. Another tells that Gigli pasta was inspired because the city is named after its founder Florinus da Cellino – Florentia being Latin for ‘flowering’. It could also have been inspired by the flower that is native to the area around the city. The Iris Fiorentina. And let us not forget the tiny Tuscan island of Giglio, ‘Isola del Giglio’ – Lily Island, perhaps the origin of Gigli lies there.
One thing is certain, the Giglio of Florence (Florentine lily) is not a lily at all, but a stylized iris.
A beautiful white iris was first applied to a red background for the city’s coat of arms in the 11th century. After the bloody battle in 1250 between the Guelphs and the Ghibellines, in which the victors were the Guelphs, the colors were reversed as a sign of power, creating the symbol of the red giglio on a white background.
In the Divine Comedy Dante Alighieri describes the eve of this event as follows:
‘The lily of the flagpole was not yet reversed and not colored red by division…’
In 1252 the new coat of arms was applied to the first Golden Florin that was ever created.
In 1811, Napoleon tried to banish the giglio from Florence, but this led to such violent protests that he soon decided to yield to the Florentine’s and the symbol remains. Florence and her giglio have been inseparable for 10 centuries and that is not going to change any time soon. Little wonder then that it has been immortalized in pasta.
Gigli and the traditions of christianity
It is part of tradition in Christian art to use lilies as a symbol of purity when portraying Our Lady or the Saints and even Angels. The lily is an emblem of purity and chastity. It is the flower the medievals found to best symbolize the purity of Mary, and has been admired as a flower of purity since the time of the Ancients.
There are numerous saints depicted with a lily or a bell which may be where the name ‘Campanelle‘ originates as campanelle pasta would have been a fitting dish to be served on feast days.
Gigli is the pasta of Tuscany
The Gigli is certainly floral in concept with it’s beautiful fluted edges and bell-like shape. It is not often possible to know the true origins of any particular pasta. However, Florence and the region of Tuscany certainly have a strong argument for naming it as their own.
We make every effort to make our pasta as Italian as possible and use only semolina wheat flour to create our Gigli. Once the pasta dough is ready, it is passed through a bronze die to form each one of the Gigli.
We also love to add beetroot, kale, spinach and fresh herbs for adding flavor and color to their pretty forms.
As well as being great fun for us to make, Gigli is one of your favorite pasta shapes and why wouldn’t it be. Gigli works well with wonderful rustic sauces, mixed in a salad or baked in the oven.