Pici or Stringozzi?

July 23, 2012 / Food & Wine

You will quickly learn when you visit Umbria or Tuscany, that pici are a hot topic! In Tuscany around Siena, Tuscans insist it is THEIR local pasta. In Umbria around Lago Trasimeno, Umbrians insist it is THEIR local pasta. In Umbria the thick long strands of this pasta are also on menus as stringozzi. My adopted Italian sister, Lea, insists it is pici and teaches visitors to make it by hand.

Pici are thicker and coarser than spaghetti and are best fatti a mano (made by hand). The crenellated surface captures any sauce efficiently and makes for truly divine pici con i porcini or pici al tartufo nero (black truffles).

It is easy to learn to make pici alla chitarra (guitar pici) on the traditional wooden box strung with wires.

Kids love to make them by creating a volcano in a mound of flour, dumping in two eggs, some salt, a dash of sunflower oil and just enough water to make dough. Knead until smooth, roll out in small rectangles and put it through the chitarra!

Colleen Simpson

by Colleen Simpson

Colleen followed a long-held dream and made a home in Piegaro, which is a pristine medieval glass-making village south of Lago Trasimeno in Umbria. She is the innkeeper at www.anticavetreria.net.

12 Responses to “Pici or Stringozzi?”

  1. Iris Mathewson

    I’ve been there with Colleen to make pici and it’s a great and fun time for everyone! Try it or better yet, go visit her and the beautiful Antica Vetreria!

  2. Anne Robichaud

    Yes, also called “strangozzi” here in Umbria..or even “strozzapreti” (“priest-chokers”………!)

    Thanks, Colleen!

  3. Colleen Simpson

    Anne: Isn’t it interesting how each community has a different name for the same pasta! And a big argument about whether to include eggs or not.

  4. Hello from the other side of the border (in Tuscany) where we think pici was born. No argument here, it is made only with flour and water, and only hand-rolled, each strand! Have never seen the chitarra used outside of Abruzzo, so that’s quite interesting to see it used this way in this part of the world.

  5. Joseph

    Hmmm, I guess I should try my hand at this pasta. La chitarra has been wrapped in a sack in my closet for years since my grandmother passed.

  6. Carolyn McConnell

    Nice article. Love it. I live near Piegaro in Paciano. These are our pici!

  7. Which ever you call them, I would love to come learn how to make them!

  8. Colleen Simpson

    In Piegaro we use the Chitarra and you can see the huge that the women use, three abreast for our Sagra della Castagna in October, to make Pici. Definitely a Piegaro tradition. I do not even want to go in the direction of Umbricelli, the pasta that is on the menu of two restaurants in Piegaro. Looks just like Pici. There are even two Umbricelli Sagras, one in Capanne and one in Poggio Aquilone, and the Umbricelli looks like Pici. It is described as “Spaghettoni irregolari equale de Strangozzi, Strozzapreti, Ciriole, ecc” Therein lies the rub, the ecc! But when you go to purchase Umbricelli in the store it is a very small pasta rolled in two directions, twined. Ah well! Just go with the flow and enjoy the pasta, no matter what it is called!

  9. Anne Robichaud

    And although “strangozzi ” is the term preferred in the Folignate-Spoletino area, the word derives from “stringa”,ie, leather shoelaces used over a hundred years ago. Also called “strozzapreti o strangolapreti”, since those rebelling to Papal authority here in the Papal States (Umbria included), could strangle a cleric now and then using le stringhe delle scarpe, ie, shoelaces.

  10. Colleen Simpson

    I have always been fascinated by the stories of “strangozzi” and “strozzapreti o strangolapreti” and wrote a much longer story included in a chapter of a book I am writing that was way too long for a “Note”. Looks like this could be a hot topic for you or me to write another “Note” Anne!!!! I have to get over your way very soon…just been so busy with guests this summer. Loving the tiny bit of rain today :-)

  11. Amy Wolf

    I don’t care what you call it, I love it. Learned to make it at cooking school in Tuscany. Wish they sold it here.


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