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Val d’Orcia

by Giulia Scarpaleggia

This is a dish really rooted in my geographical area… or better, to be precise, time-honoured in Siena and in all the south part of the Siena area. I am talking about the beautiful Val d’Orcia and of all the wonderful small medieval villages that have remained unchanged for centuries.

A few years ago I made a Val d’Orcia tour with some friends and we stopped over in Bagno Vignoni for dinner. It is really the most enchanting village I have ever visited. The beautiful medieval square is filled with a huge swimming pool of thermal water. The four of us had pici as our pasta dish at a local restaurant: pici are big, thick, hand-made spaghetti, typical of the country tradition of homemade pasta. They are made just of flour and water. If you want to make fresh pasta, begin with pici, they are extremely easy to make!

In Siena there are two typical sauces for pici (although obviously a few more exist): aglione sauce and bread crumbs roasted in olive oil. In this time of the year, when the garlic is fresh and juicy, I do suggest the aglione sauce… just don’t make it if you have your girlfriend or boyfriend over for dinner!


Recipe: Pici


  • 500 g of plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • 250 ml (1 cup) of warm water


  1. Put the flour on a large wooden working surface, make a well in the centre of the flour and add the salt and a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil. Now add the water little by little, stirring with your hands until a dough is formed. The required quantity of water may be different each time.
  2. Knead the dough until firm and smooth: you’ll need about 10 minutes.
  3. Flatten the dough just like making pizza, brush it with a generous dash of extra virgin olive oil and cover with plastic wrap.
  4. Let stand at room temperature from 2 hours up to a whole night.
  5. Roll out the dough into a thick sheet (at least 5 mm), then use a pici rolling pin or a knife to make deep cuts in it, about 5 mm large. Then, take out one noodle after the other, stretching and rolling them with your hands to make a kind of thick spaghetti.
  6. Place the pici on a sheet tray dusted with flour and set aside to dry. Boil them in steaming salted water for about 10 minutes, then drain them and season as you prefer.

Number of servings (yield): 6

Recipe: Aglione Sauce


  • 5 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 cloves of fresh garlic
  • 1 chili
  • 500 g of tomato pulp
  • Salt


  1. Pour the extra virgin olive oil in a thick bottomed pan and add the garlic cloves, peeled and crushed.
  2. Cook on very low heat for about 5 minutes, letting the garlic infuse, until it gets lightly golden.
  3. Pour in the tomato pulp and stir. Cook on low heat for about 10 minutes.

Cooking time: 10 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 6

Giulia Scarpaleggia has been cooking, eating, and loving life in the Tuscan countryside her entire life. She loves sunsets, crickets and blogging in English. Read more of her recipes at http://en.julskitchen.com.