You all know my obsession with pasta, so after my trip to Tuscany I wanted to make the traditional Tuscan Pici pasta again.Jump to Recipe
The region is full of beauty with rolling hills and picture postcard like views.
The most notable part of the region is the amount of vineyards. It is one of Tuscany’s most important wine regions, and where the famous wine gets its name.
The region of Chianti is broken up in to several different parts, I have visited several before, but this time we visited Castellina in Chianti, where the wine Chianti classical is produced.
We were told how Cosimo de Medici legislated the first official boundaries of the Chianti region.
A few years ago when I visited Tuscany I had no clue who the Medici family were, but thanks to the popular show on Netflix, I arrived this time with a bit more knowledge. Though I imagine it might have been slightly exaggerated.
We spent one afternoon wondering through Castellina in Chianti before heading to Ruffinos Santedame vineyards for a picnic.
If I was to pick one thing to talk about that stands out to me about Tuscany other than the beauty it would be the food, wine and hospitality.
A few photos to show you what i mean when i say how beautiful the Chianti region is.
Regional food and wine
I love Tuscan food because its comforting and honest.
Because of the amount of farming land, the people there had to make do with simple ingredients, and they really found a way to make them shine.
Tuscan bread, which forms the base of many dishes seemed really strange to me at first. This is because it is made with out any salt.
On its own it can seem really bland and nondescript but in a panzanella or bread soup (pappa al pomodoro) it is amazing.
It’s thought that Tuscan bread was made without salt because salt was very expensive.
I’m sure any Tuscan will tell you that there is nothing quite like it, and today even though salt is easier to come by they still make the bread the same way.
Paired with a good olive oil, or served with dinner to wipe up left over sauces it actually works really well.
Another Tuscan bread i really love is schiacciata all’uva, basically it is a sweet flat focaccia type bread topped with grapes. its so delicious.
Another popular Tuscan recipe is Pici pasta, although its a lot less popular today.
Pici is an ancient type pasta, and is one of my favourites because its big and chewy and holds the sauce really well.
It is made by pulling on a piece of dough made of durum wheat flour (usually no egg) until you have a lengthy string.
I love to make it to serve with a slow cooked ragu of Ox cheek braised in Chianti wine.
The dough is easy to make, though maybe a little tiring to roll out by hand, but its always worth the effort.
I have tried it with a number of sauces like pici alle briciole (a bread sauce) cacio e pepe, wild boar ragu, I don’t mind what it is served with.
Traditionally it was made with just flour and water, though nowadayss, oil and eggs and a mix of both semolina and tippo 00 flour are used.
Pici pasta was a staple peasant dish so I wanted to keep things basic with this recipe
I have made it the old fashioned way with a typical semolina dough using 400g fine ground durum wheat semolina flour -160ml water
On a flat dry work surface add the semolina and make a well in the centre and pour in the water, mix with a fork then use your hands and mix it together, then knead for about 5 / 10 minutes until a soft smooth dough is achieved. Like above for the egg pasta. let it rest for 30 minutes and then you can shape it.
There are many different ways to shape it, you can either roll out one large sheet and cut strips and then roll each one out into thin ropes.
Alternatively tear off small balls of dough and using both hands roll out into long thin ropes resembling fat spaghetti.
To cook boil a pan of salted water and boil for 4 to 6 minutes or until it floats.
Florence and Siena
The last night of our trip we visited Florence for the evening and enjoyed the most delicious dinner in a roof top restaurant overlooking the city.
I had rabbit ragu pappardelle with black truffle. It was in a white sauce and was so good. I don’t get to eat rabbit very often to it was really special.
It’s such a beautiful city. Siena, Florence and Lucca are my favourite cities to visit in Tuscany, and they all both really different.
Siena and Lucca are small and full of character, with little alley ways leading to hidden gems.
Florence is large and bustling, but still full of lots of old character. It feels a lot more modern.
There are lots of designer shops, so is a great place to go if you are interested in fashion.
If like me you are interested in food then there is an amazing food market near the square called Mercato Centrale Firenze.
Inside you will find stall after stall of food products like, pasta, dried porcini, flavoured salts and cheese. The are stalls selling wine and local spirits, it was my favourite place to visit in the city and really worth checking out.
Another part of Tuscany i really loved was the city called lucca, it is a short drive from Pisa, The road to get there goes under the mountains.
Its a city, but to me, it feels more like a town. Its small and full of charm.
It is known for the well-preserved Renaissance walls encircling its historic city centre and its cobblestone streets. The are some really great restaurants and gelato places there.
- 400 grams fine ground durum wheat flour
- 160 ml water
- On a flat dry work surface add the semolina and make a well in the centre and pour in the water, mix with a fork then use your hands and mix it together, then knead for about 5 / 10 minutes until a soft smooth dough is achieved. Like above for the egg pasta. let it rest for 30 minutes and then you can shape it.There are many different ways to shape it, you can either roll out one large sheet and cut strips and then roll each one out into thin ropes, or tear off small balls of dough and using both hands roll out into long thin ropes resembling fat spaghetti. To cook boil a pan of salted water and boil for 4 to 6 minutes or until it floats.
If you are a wine lover then you have to stay at Ruffinos relais and experience Chianti and the surrounding area for your self.