A new culinary experience for us while in the Tuscany region of Italy was “pici” (pronounced pea-chee), a thick, hand-rolled pasta, like a fat spaghetti. It originates in the province of Siena in the Montalcino area, and is also referred to as pinci. The dough is typically made from flour and water only. The addition of egg is optional, being determined by family traditions.
Since we have been back in the States, we watched several online videos on how to make pici. Basically, the dough is rolled out in a thick flat sheet, then cut into strips. In some families, the strip of dough is rolled between one palm and the table, while the other hand is wrapped with the rest of the strip. It can also be formed by rolling the strip between the palms. Either method forms a thick pasta, slightly thinner than a common pencil. Unlike spaghetti or macaroni, this pasta is not uniform in size and has variations of thickness along its length.
Intrigued, we thought about making pici at home, and were thrilled when we came across a “pici roller” (see photo above) at one of the many wine, cheese and pasta shops we visited. However, while in Rome — or Tuscany as the case may be — we found pici on almost every menu in every town, and therefore at least one of the four of us would order the pasta. The introductory experience was our first night at Il Poggio as a “Primi” first course, where Lynn ordered the Pici with Asparagus and Cinta Pork Bacon, and Mike and Russ chose the Pici with Tuscan Ragout. Let’s just say “Love at first bite!”
From that day forward we dined on pici with a variety of sauces in Pittigliano, Radicofani, Montepulciano, Siena and Celle sul Rigo. So if you ever find yourself in the Tuscany region of Italy, make sure to avail yourself of their region’s specialty, pici pasta!