If your go-to pasta order is spaghetti bolognese, then we have some bad news for you. One of the most frequent mistakes tourists make when travelling to Italy is ordering spaghetti bolognese without even reading the menu – expecting to finally taste an “authentic” take on their favourite Italian dish. It’s likely that a waiter less versed in bumbling tourists would have to make further enquiries about what exactly their confused customers want, and then probably end up serving a steaming plate of tagliatelle al ragù – perhaps with the admonishment, “ … but please, signore, don’t call it spaghetti bolognese.” That's because the dish simply doesn’t exist in authentic Italian cuisine. You won’t see it on any traditional menu. It’s a bit like going to America and ordering a “US sandwich” or a “meat panino” instead of a hamburger. “Spaghetti bolognese is a fake name invented by foreigners, that's how they mistakenly call our signature regional dish tagliatelle al ragù,” says chef Emilio Barbieri of top AnnA restaurant in Modena, a gourmand destination located in the eastern Emilia-Romagna region. “I think the first ones to spread this twisted horrible name were the German tourists visiting the main city of Bologna – hence the adjective ‘Bolognese’ – who fell in love with the meaty sauce and everywhere they'd go, they would always order it.” Gnocchi: the true origins of Verona’s ‘light, fluffy pillows’ View this post on Instagram A post shared by Nagi & Dozer - RecipeTin Eats (@recipe_tin) on Oct 19, 2019 at 4:36pm PDT Tourists helped spread the fame of Bologna as the capital of this symbolic pasta dish, but it’s a signature recipe belonging to the entire region, particularly to the rural areas where grannies still nowadays prepare the delicious plate according to the old, simple recipe. Locals are so irritated by the Italian-sounding yet fake dish that this year regional authorities even launched a campaign to expose the fake news. “Tagliatelle al ragù is part of our DNA, the most exquisite essence of the regional folk cuisine. Our grandmothers and mothers have been hand-making the pasta and meat sauce with care and passion for centuries. It’s a sacred ritual,” says Barbieri. Tagliatelle is a wide, long, soft and wavy egg dough pasta which is taken very seriously by purists. There’s even a congregation of “Tagliatelle apostles” whose strict instructions dictate that ribbons must be no more than eight millimetres when cooked, or else they cannot be called tagliatelle. Local chambers of commerce jealously protect the original recipe and fight against counterfeits. View this post on Instagram Part of a balanced diet. #tagliatellealragù .........( @fridayswiththefungs ) A post shared by Baldassarre (@famiglia_baldassarre) on Nov 1, 2019 at 7:29am PDT The delicious ragù sauce that clings onto the tagliatelle is exclusively made of the best, most tender, beef belly and shoulder parts mixed with celery, carrots and onions, cooked in tomato sauce and red wine. “That’s the one and only sauce. Tagliatelle are solely made with ragù. No other topping or ingredient is accepted, no other variant nor twist, no other name,” says Barbieri. “Plus, in Emilia-Romagna we don’t even have spaghetti – that’s a pasta variety typical of Rome and Naples.” Why is risotto yellow? The history of Milan’s golden rice Why we have a noblewoman’s hair to thank Italy has roughly 300 different pasta types, according to the domestic pasta lobby, each with a distinctive name and shape and even if the differences might seem minimal, they’re not. Tagliatelle remains among the most known and beloved. As with most sublime food inventions, romance and the inspirational power of female beauty played a key role in giving tagliatelle its form. “Legend has it the shape of the long and smooth pasta hails back to the lovely, golden-reddish hair of the evil, cunning yet stunning Lucrezia Borgia, one of the main historical characters that inspired the popular TV series ( The Borgias ),” says chef Marco Franchini at Bologna’s Al Cappello Rosso tavern. A Renaissance cook called Mastro Zefirano apparently fell in love with the noblewoman’s looks when he was asked to prepare a lavish lunch to celebrate Lucrezia’s first wedding with Duke Alfonso d’Este, living in the coastal town of Ferrara. The chef, excited about the event and stunned by the girl’s luscious hair, in a whim of creativity grabbed a plain sheet of pasta used to make lasagne (another iconic local dish) and sliced it into long, golden strips that became tagliatelle. Forget French champagne, Italian spumante is the best bubbly Born in 1480, Lucrezia was the illegitimate daughter of lascivious Pope Alexander VI. She had hundreds of suitors and a knack for poisoning her lovers with venom that she kept inside a ring. She also allegedly slept with both her own father and brother, yet her beauty masked all her vices. Lucrezia’s golden locks bewitched philosophers and inspired the Romantic poets. “It is said that everyone who met her would stare in disbelief at her wonderful hair; poets would find inspiration to compose sonnets, while cooks ideas to make new recipes. Female beauty is often associated with delicious, divine food,” says Annarosaria Verdi, an expert of culinary mythology. At some point, a suitor stole a strand of her hair, probably after Lucrezia cut it off herself to send in an envelope to one of her many lovers, as was custom back in the Renaissance. That curly lock was so magnetic that it eventually turned into an object of mystical worshipping and triggered spooky sightings. Today it is showcased behind a glass case at Milan’s Ambrosiana Library, which in the 1800s became a hot pilgrimage site for artists wanting to admire the hair lock. It is said that the place is haunted by Lucrezia’s ghost who returns at night to brush the solitary hair strand she left behind and which gave birth to a sensual pasta. View this post on Instagram A post shared by MARIO 홈메이드파스타 키친 (@pastajang2.mario) on Nov 20, 2019 at 5:54pm PST In Emilia-Romagna’s restaurants there are female cooks employed exclusively to make fresh Lucrezia-inspired tagliatelle everyday, dubbed sfogline – or “those that cut the pasta sheets”. “It’s a real job, the know-how and preparation skills are passed down across generations of women. In the countryside tagliatelle al ragù is made in households and farms, it’s like daily bread, while in cities and towns there are specific tagliatelle shops where you can buy it fresh every morning,” says Barbieri. Who needs Viagra when you've got the sexiest sausage in the world? What makes tagliatelle more savoury than simple pasta is the addition of fresh eggs – which cooks before dried pasta and has a softer, buttery consistency that melts the palate. View this post on Instagram A post shared by MARCUS COOKS (@marcus_cooks_) on Nov 5, 2019 at 10:06am PST But “tagliatelle would be soulless without the ragù sauce”, which is the other key element of the dish, explains Barbieri. According to a popular Italian proverb, when two things perfectly fit each other then “one is the death of the other”, meaning quite the opposite – that they’re a dead perfect match. So ragù is the best sauce to couple with tagliatelle, for the meat bits tend to cling onto the pasta and stick in between the curls. “Ragù is the symbol of rural frugality, born when food was precious and nothing was thrown away,” says Barbieri. Farmer families would make huge stuffed pasta rolls with meat pieces leftover from the day before to avoid throwing it away given the absence of fridges. “The hard meat morsels were boiled for five hours, that’s how ragù came to be. It was part of the household’s economy: each family had a henhouse for the eggs, grain for the pasta and flour. That’s all you need for home-made tagliatelle al ragù.” Want more stories like this? Sign up here . Follow STYLE on Facebook , Instagram , YouTube and Twitter .