Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, Add the pasta and cook until 2 minutes before package directions state for the finishing time. Drain well.
In another large pot, saute the onion and garlic gently in some olive oil. When translucent, add the passata, tinned tomatoes, salt, pepper and sugar. Bring to the boil, add the herbs (leaves whole) and then simmer gently until thick.
In a third pot, melt the butter over low heat and add the flour. Cook, stirring, one minute. Add the milk and stir with a whisk to combine. Add the bay leaf and a peppercorn or two, and cook gently, whisking often, until the sauce is thick and bubbling. Take off the heat.
Add the cupful of grated cheese to the white bechamel sauce, and remove the bay leaf.
Add the pasta to the pot of sauce and stir to combine.
In a large baking dish, spread out the pasta and sauce. Top with the bechamel, and sprinkle cheese over.
Bake 30-40 minutes until heated through and the cheese is golden and bubbling.