In Italian the word pasta means "paste" and refers to a large category of fresh and dry noodles. Italian pastas are typically made from semolina flour and water (sometimes milk). The dough is rolled out and made into hundreds of shapes from thin ribbons, to bow-tie shapes and hollow tubes.
Dry pastas are very convenient and store for very long times (1-2 years) in your pantry. Pasta can also be purchased fresh in the refrigerated section of many grocery stores.