Pasta Vending Machine

14 Oct

Wow, folks. This is a first. We had some friends visiting from L’Aquila this weekend, so we decided to go on the general tourist walk downtown, hitting the main sights like the Pantheon, Piazza Navona, Trevi Fountain and the Spanish Steps.

Between the Trevi Fountain and the Spanish Steps, I saw this little tiny grocery store that billed itself as an “express” grocery store. It was a national chain (I forget which), but yet in the entrance there were three or four huge, imposing vending machines that were like mini grocery stores in and of themselves.

I couldn’t believe it. So of course I had to start taking photos.

Well, wouldn’t you know it, but after about two seconds, a grocery store clerk comes running at me full-charge from the back of the mini-store. (There’s a part of the store inside that was stocked and there were a few cash registers.)

“NOOO!!! No foto!” he screams at me, waving his hands in desperation.

Me: “Per quale motivo, scusa?” (Sorry, but why not?)

His response: Hey, I don’t make the rules around here.

Um, ok. Whatever.

Apparently the crime of taking photos of vending machines doesn’t warrant camera confiscation, so I already had three shots in the bag before his tyrade. That means that luckily he hadn’t managed to stop me before I got THIS shot, which I consider the crown jewel of the whole surreal experience:

Yes, I do believe you are seeing correctly: a pizza/pasta vending machine. In Italy!

Blink! Blink again! Rub your eyes! Yet, it doesn’t go away!

Now, seeing as how I was uncerimoniously exiled from “grocery-vending alley,” I was unable to do a closer investigation to figure out how exactly one might go about ordering pasta from a vending machine, or how that all might work. Which means I also neglected to find out how much said plate of pasta might cost. However, I enlarged the photo to see if I could get any further information, and there’s a hand-written note that says “No 1 or 2 Euro coins.” Which tells me we’re looking at a price of at least €5, no?

Anyhoo, I personally found this totally and completely amusing. Has anyone ever seen these machines or used them? No idea why they are so off-limits for photos, but hey, I’m feeling rebellious so I had to share them with you.


32 Responses to “Pasta Vending Machine”

  1. Sara, Ms. Adventures in Italy October 14, 2007 at 7:30 pm #

    My big question is…is this vending machine inside or outside? If it’s inside, it seems that the owners’ job has gotten even better. They don’t have to ask you for exact change, and they can spend the whole time watching you πŸ™‚

  2. nyc/caribbean ragazza October 15, 2007 at 12:24 am #

    I’m sorry. I am having a hard time understanding how the pasta vending machine works. It’s one thing to get a package of Fritos from a machine, but pasta? haha

    Does the pasta comes out hot and ready to go? Or do you have to microwave it?

  3. Stacy October 15, 2007 at 2:06 am #

    and how do you get pizza from a machine? hehe that is so funny!

    Ive been intriqued by those ice cream vending machines (its like softserve, i forget what its called) but this is the first time Ive seen pizza/pasta. hehe

    but how convenient to purchase personal hygiene items!

  4. Roam 2 Rome October 15, 2007 at 2:16 am #

    Guess we see something new every day!

    At the hospital we had pizza and pasta vending machines, but it was a box of ready-made food that I’d put in the microwave, and this came in handy when I worked night shift… but in Italy, too? Wow.

  5. Mrs.W October 15, 2007 at 2:56 am #

    Hilarious! You MUST find out more about this pasta/pizza vending machine!

    And I can see your reflection in the 3rd photo in the machine–did you see it? Great pictures.

  6. J.Doe October 15, 2007 at 6:22 am #

    I’ve seen those machines in Florence. I’ve even tried one or two. They aren’t bad and are often cheaper than going to a bar for lunch.

  7. Giulia October 15, 2007 at 1:01 pm #

    Hmmm, get rid of the middleman, I guess. It must cost less to throw things in a vending machine as opposed to hiring a cashier to scan the groceries. Are these machines outside, or within the mini stores? I can’t imagine them being outside and not be vandalized!

  8. John F Rauchert October 15, 2007 at 6:54 pm #

    Here is a link to a video of one version of a Pizza Vending Machine.

    I love the caption:

    “WONDERPIZZA of Italy will place America’s most popular food source in places heretofore unavailable.”

  9. Janavi October 15, 2007 at 8:56 pm #

    It reminds me of the art deco style automats we used to have in NY-but it was a cafeteria style restaurant-all the food was behind little doors & was hot-stuff like baked beans & macaroni & cheese. But it’s difficult to imagine pasta & pizza.

  10. Buda Baby October 15, 2007 at 9:44 pm #

    Truly a marvel of modern technology. πŸ˜‰ But I wonder, is the pasta as good as it looks in the “What Italians Taught Me About Pasta” post?

  11. finnyknits October 15, 2007 at 11:20 pm #

    Imagine if you’d found this place back in the day and not had to go into the drugstore and ask them at the counter for band-aids like you were buying Vicadin or something. Do these machines package up your purchase in tissue? That’d be a sight to see.

    Meanwhile, the no photos rule must be moving overseas in one direction or another, because remember this candy store that got all bigiggity when I was taking photos in there?

    Fools. They do not know with whom they are messing.

  12. pina October 15, 2007 at 11:29 pm #

    i’ve never seem them in italy but i do love the Febo’s in amsterdam that sell hotdogs, hamburgers, chicken burgers and fish burgers all through a vending machine kinda thing. funny enough all the burgers look the same…i couldn’t bring myself to try one to see if they all tasted the same one.

  13. Bajagirl October 16, 2007 at 2:59 am #

    I was in Portovenere last year where there was pesto vending machines and I thought that was weird!

  14. kataroma October 16, 2007 at 9:48 am #

    Wow – that is hilarious. I’ve seen such vending machines in the Netherlands (the Dutch seem to LOVE food vending machines) but I always thought Italians were too “foodie” for such things. Guess I was wrong.

    JDoe – the pasta is actually edible?

  15. Cyn October 16, 2007 at 11:50 am #

    Wow, you guys have EVERYTHING in Rome! That is what I get for living in such a small town, no pizza or pasta machines here!


  16. A Novelist October 16, 2007 at 10:40 pm #

    That is wild! Pizza from a vending machine. Only in Italy right? And don’t worry…I am constantly getting yelled at for taking pictures around NYC. LOL. Great post! πŸ™‚

  17. joanna October 17, 2007 at 11:46 am #

    i saw one in the Madrid airport once but i didn’t have time to try it out.

  18. Eryn October 17, 2007 at 9:03 pm #

    This is crazzzzyyyy. I’ll definitely have to look out for these when I’m in some of Italy’s larger cities this coming April. If you ever muster up the strength/confidence you should try these pizza/pasta vending machine and report back. I’m sure it’s crappy, but ya know……you never know.

  19. BIGBOSS October 18, 2007 at 4:22 am #

    Oh my god! Pizza-vending machine?! That’s cool. What’s next? Spaghetti-vending machine? Hahaha!

    Nice blog, glad I visit this. Please visit me in my blog too and I’ll link you so my friends will know this wonderful, tasteful blog. hehehe — planet of the nuts

  20. Susan from Food Blogga October 19, 2007 at 12:12 am #

    Pizza from a vending machine. That’s just wrong.

    Great post.

  21. Wanderlust Scarlett October 19, 2007 at 7:55 am #

    Absolutely shocked. Whahuh?!?!
    In ITALY?!?!!


    Sognatrice said that Starbucks is coming to Italy too. BOO. What is going on!
    Glad you posted this now so I don’t have a heart attack later when I see it and wonder what the world is coming to.

    5 Euros for machine pasta. What next?

    PS – I am having a birthday party for Sognatrice over at my page, please come by if you are able!

    Scarlett & Viaggiatore

  22. sara October 20, 2007 at 5:35 pm #

    I love the idea of the vending machine mini market! especially because the markets close at such weird hours! I wish they had them in my little paese!

  23. feniks November 11, 2007 at 8:45 pm #

    Spaghetti-vending machine allredy exist in Italy.

  24. luciano catanuso February 13, 2008 at 12:02 am #

    Hello my name is Luciano Catanuso from catanusoscafe,located in Northern VA,and I must say that I was very pleased to see and know the esistenza of a machine that makes pasta and pizza!What a lampo di genio!Only in Italia!!Please,get in touch with the manifacturer of such a wonder machine,that will find ample use and fame here in the USA,if placed in the right locations.
    Thank you for the attention,arrivederci!

  25. luciano catanuso February 13, 2008 at 12:04 am #

    ..or even the site for this machine will do,I’ll do the rest,
    Grazie again!

  26. luciano catanuso February 21, 2008 at 3:54 am #

    …Hi there,it’s me Luciano,I was just wondering if you have any informations for me yet…
    Thank you.

  27. luciano catanuso March 2, 2008 at 11:48 pm #

    Hi there,
    I’m still waiting for any informations at all regarding the pasta machines,I guess I should give up on it,shoulnd’t I?Just let me know.

  28. Antonio May 2, 2008 at 6:06 am #

    Luciano, e’ un po’ che esistano queste macchine, io ho i contatti…… voglio portarle in USA.
    Sei interessato? 813-785-7529

  29. andie May 19, 2008 at 3:01 pm #

    I just finished watching Good Morning America since I’m having an extremely slow day at work and they did a segment about this! They showed how it worked and everything. You choose which pasta you’d like, put your money in and then fresh pasta comes down from the top and in 90 seconds the hot pasta is dispensed at the bottom on a plate and a hot packet of sauce comes out. HOW CRAZY!! I must find one of these around where I live ASAP. To think, my favorite food fresh in only 90 seconds. Oh I think I’m in love!

  30. Susy July 20, 2008 at 9:37 pm #

    Ciao Luciano, I just got back from Rome last night and you will not believe that I came across the same 3 vending machines while I was there. I had just finished taking photos at the Trevi Fountain and was on my way back to the hotel when I came across the same 3 in your photos. Having been interested in the pizza vending machine for some time I was therefore became very intersted in the pasta one. I tried to actually buy a pasta from the machine however it got stuck on “Risotto di Fungi” for 2.90 euros. I then gave up and wrote down a website address to make contact the supplier. (it was written on the vending machine at the bottom). You will not believe – I cannot find that piece of paper with the web address anywhere and I am now very pissed!

  31. Maria September 9, 2008 at 8:15 pm #

    I actually got to watch the Twirl Pasta vending machine dispense bowls of pasta at the National Restaurant Association show in Chicago this Spring (I think it was also mentioned on Good Morning America). Twirl Pasta is apparently operating in Europe as well. They had three or four sauces you could choose from and the serving size was really big and everything came out nice and hot. I would love to see something like this in hospitals and/or Universities…a healthy fast food alternative.

  32. Nikki May 3, 2014 at 10:35 pm #

    I used to live in Florence across the street from a very small storefront containing only several vending machines (one of them pasta). There were no people in there monitoring, ever.

    I think I paid about €3-4 for some gnocchi with pesto once. It took a few minutes but when it was finally revealed, it came in a little paper dish with a plastic seal. I imagine it’s essentially just a microwave inside a larger machine that dispenses the dishes into the microwave when they’re purchased.

    It was actually impressively tasty!

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