Italy may still be in lockdown but an 84-year-old grandmother has found a way to bring a taste of her country to the rest of the world during the coronavirus pandemic.

Nonna Nerina's fame began about three years ago when she started teaching her Airbnb guests how to make authentic pasta, passing down old family recipes and techniques.

Based in the small town of Palombara Sabina, north of Rome, her granddaughter Chiara Nicolanti started an Airbnb Experiences page for her grandmother's classes, which quickly attracted international media attention, as well as hundreds of travellers and chefs wanting to refine their pasta-making technique.

Other grandmothers in the village also began to take part and the town's tourist population began to steadily rise.


However, Nicolanti had to start cancelling bookings due to the COVID-19 outbreak in Italy and its subsequent lockdown. Italy's death toll from the virus has now surpassed China. Italy reached the bleak milestone the same day that Wuhan, the Chinese city where the coronavirus first emerged three months ago, recorded no new infections.

Together... no matter what. To all the grandparents out there: you are our strength! To all the young people stuck in their house: this is the perfect moment to learn and practice. And if you don’t have a grandma next to you... you can have mine for a couple of hours!!! Book Nonna’s virtual cooking class and cook with her from your home!! 😝❤️👵🍝 . . . . #virtualexperience #virtualcookingclass #onlinecookingschool #onlinecookingclass #onlinepastaclass #pasta #cook #nonnanerina #italy #food #foodlovers #pastalovers #nonnagoeslive

Posted by Handmade Pasta with Grandma on Monday, 16 March 2020

As no one can currently travel to Italy, the pair have decided to bring Italy to the rest of the world, with a new online streaming class called Nonna Live.

It's a two-hour experience with 'Nonna Nerina and Nipote Chiara' (nonna means grandmother and nipote granddaughter in Italian) who teach viewers recipes from their family that go back more than 100 years.

A week before the class, participants receive a shopping list of ingredients to buy and what utensils might be required.

As the class draws nearer, there are translated notes from Nonna Nerina sent out to prepare each budding chef.

The pair also send their favourite wine pairing suggestions.

Nicolanti told Matador Network they started receiving incredible support as soon as they started online.

"In two weeks, we had hundreds of messages from all around the world from people who I met once in my life and they text me to tell me we are praying for you, we love you, we hope to see you."


She told the network the nature of the online class can mean things get messy, especially the first time they tried. "It was supposed to be an hour class, and it lasted two hours, and people were laughing all the time. She never stops, she never waits for me, so it was really crazy, but I think this is what people want. They want an Italian grandma making a mess with them for an hour."

In a social media post, Nicolanti said the support continued to be incredible.

"Everyday since the Coronavirus Emergency started I receive tons of messages asking how we are. People I met once in my life pray for me and my family. We are receiving gifts and so so much love."

"This is the best part of life: support each other, love each other, protect each other. I haven't enough "Thanks" to tell you.

"And yes, we are good!"

The live streaming class costs US$50. Different days have different meals, such as Fettuccine with tomato on Saturdays and Cannelloni on Sundays.