When most people think of Tuscany, they dream of rolling green hills, aged “noble” wines, quiet Renaissance towns, and charming little cobblestone streets. When I think of Tuscany, I dream of Pici.
My husband and I spent a few days road tripping through Southern Tuscany. We started in Florence and then made our way through Siena, Pienza, Montepulciano, and Cortona, all the while eating and drinking copious amounts of Pecorino cheese and Brunello wine. It was awesome. I highly recommend the Tuscan hills as an escape from any smog infested cities you may call home (a.k.a. Milan).
Other than the beautiful picturesque landscapes, the food was what made this trip so memorable (I say that about every trip). Tuscan cuisine is one of my favorite regional cuisines, which utilizes simple hearty ingredients that are delicious and filling. They love their wild boar sauce, truffles and beans.
When I tried pici for the first time, there was no going back. They are a local pasta made with flour and water (and sometimes egg) that are hand-rolled into what resembles gigantic spaghetti noodles. I somewhat went crazy after trying them during the first meal of our trip. If I close my eyes, I can taste the softness between my teeth, the thickness of the strands, easily melting in my mouth, the warm olive oil and tomato sauce enveloping my tongue. My senses were running wild. In three days, I tried four different kinds of pici:
- Al Sugo all’Aglione (garlic and tomato sauce)
- Al Ragù Toscano (Tuscan meat sauce)
- Al Fumo (smoked cheese, pancetta, and mascarpone sauce)
- Al Sugo di coniglio (rabbit sauce)
My favorite were the pici with ragù, which we had in a cozy winery & restaurant, located in an old brick wine cellar in Montepulciano. We had the best meal of our trip here, and they also had some fabulous pecorino that we couldn’t stop raving about.
The cooking time for pici is decidedly much longer than the usual “8-10 minutes” for other pastas. On the package it says 22 minutes, but I think we waited a good 30 to reach that wonderful softness (without becoming pasta “scotta”) that we experienced. It hardly matters since I would wait forever for pici.
La Bottega del Nobile
Via di Gracciano Nel Corso 95 – Montepulciano
All photos taken by me.