The town of Gragnano, 20 miles to the south of Naples, may not be where commercial pasta production originated, as is sometimes claimed, but it's here that artisanal production reached its peak. The town's main street was rearranged to capture the prevailing winds, making it singularly well suited to traditional drying of pasta, the most difficult stage of manufacture. "Make the pasta with the [warm, moist, southerly] scirocco wind and dry it with the [cold, dry, Alpine] tramontana" was the maxim that guided Gragnano pasta artisans. Drying depended not only on the winds but also on the intuitive science of the head pastaio, whose meteorological and astronomical prowess needed to rival that of a ship's captain. The pastaio called the shots during the drying process, which could take eight days to three weeks, depending on time of year. Any error along the way could mean the pasta would fragment in cooking or even become rancid. Breaking a piece of pasta near his ear, the pastaio decided whether a batch could survive export by sea.