Pasta i pici at restaurant La Solita Zuppa | visit Chiusi Tuscany

Pasta i pici at restaurant La Solita Zuppa | visit Chiusi Tuscany

I pici

Pici pasta are thick homemade spaghetti. In Italy it is a first course. The pasta is also known as Pici Senesi. They are originally from southern Tuscany around Siena. Hence the name Pici Senesi.

In Montalcino they are called “i pinci”. Montalcino is a hill town and comune in the province of Siena.

It is not difficult to make fresh pasta i pici. Still me, as a foreigner in Italy, I am not used working with flour and water. I don’t have the technique of pasta making, unfortunately. I prepare more easy, healthy and quick meals.

The ingredients of the pasta dough for i pici are simple: flour, water and olive oil.

With your hands flat you roll the pasta from the center outwards.

Pici is a fat and rough pasta. There are many varieties to choose among i pici:

Pici all’aglione –tomato and garlic sauce-
Pici ragù –meat sauce-
Pici al ragù d’anatra –duck sauce-

In supermarkets you can buy fresh pici. The pici from the supermarkets are delicious as well. I eat them often with “ai frutti di mare” (fish) or with fresh made Pesto Genovese.

Of course fresh pasta tastes better, but with a little creativity and flexibility you can make the best pasta dishes at home!

Restaurant La Solita Zuppa

The owners of restaurant La Solita Zuppa are Andrea with his wife Lorella Casagni. Andrea is a top chef and sommelier. La Solita Zuppa is a Slow Food restaurant in Chiusi città, the old town.

La Solita Zuppa offers traditional dishes. On the menu you can choose from many pasta dishes with typical and local ingredients.

Every morning they make their own fresh pasta. When I visited La Solita Zuppa Andrea had prepared the pasta dough for me to roll out.

It was a nice thing to do! For a moment I felt like an Italian “mamma” with many pasta making experience.

Having dinner at restaurant La Solita Zuppa is perfect for an evening of typical Tuscan plates. The atmosphere is cosy. The service is friendly and professional.

The dishes they offer are delicious and based on its long history and location. And if you love wine you should check out their wine list. Most of the wines are local and match excellent with the food they serve.

After weeks of lockdown they have opened their restaurant since May 27. It is recommended to make a reservation in advance. La Solita Zuppa is closed on Tuesdays.

Lampredotto

La Solita Zuppa is famous for their Lampredotto sandwich. Lampredotto is a local Tuscan street food specialty. It is the fourth stomach of the cow. Tuscany has a tradition of eating internal organs. They use these organs to create delicious dishes with a strong and spicy flavor.

Personally I don’t like Lampredotto. It has a rich fatty texture.

But the tradition of food is important for the locals. It is a way of life and history. Most of the people in Tuscany love eating Lampredotto.

Chiusi (Siena)

Chiusi is near Montepulciano. In a relaxing countryside sits the ancient city of Chiusi. It is situated on a hill overlooking the Val di Chiana valley and the Umbrian hills.

Chiusi città is the old town and Chiusi Scalò is the modern area.

The story of the Tuscan town Chiusi is closely linked to the Etruscans. In every corner you can breathe in the Etruscan presence and there are many details that refer to king Porsenna.

The burial place of the legendary Etruscan king Porsenna would have been beneath the town of Chiusi. As we know now, the underground routs, the labyrinths, were part of a water supply system dug by the Etruscans.

Chiusi is an appreciated city by visitors. In the ancient town you find a number of historical and archeological sites. One of the most interesting museums to visit is the “National Archeological Museum”: Museo Nazionale Etrusco. The museum reconstructs the history of Chiusi and its territory through numerous finds from the Iron Age to the Lombard age.

It is one of the most important museums in Italy for its knowledge of Etruscan art.

How do I reach Chiusi

There are different ways to get to Chiusi. By car and by train. Chiusi Scalò is an important train station. Operated by Trenitalia, from Rome and Florence are several train services.

It is very easy to find a taxi in Chiusi Scalò. There are also busses that take you from the station to the centre of Chiusi.

Gelateria

One of my favorite gelateria in Chiusi Scalo is Green Bar in Via Cassia Aureli I, 107. This gelateria is at walking distance from the train station.

Lago di Chiusi

Chiusi’s Lake is only 5 minutes drive from the centre of Chiusi città. You can bike and hike in this wonderful nature area. For food lovers I recommend restaurant Pesce d’Orco. They offer traditional fish “pesce di lago brustico” from the Etruscan civilization. Yummy!

Every year in September is a run and walk around the lake: Giro Lago di Chiusi. It is a 18k run. A nice run experience! And if you don’t run you might participate to the organized walk.

Enjoy!

Phase two in Italy and how to move on

Phase two in Italy and how to move on

Lockdown in Italy

Last week I have seen our Prime Minister Conte on TV saying that the measures will be more relaxed from May 4. What changes?

Prime Minister

Sometimes it’s a bit confusing for me to understand well Italy’s new rules. But in general I know what I may do and what is still prohibited.

We will still have difficult months ahead. To protect ourselves we must maintain social distancing, wear masks and gloves in supermarkets and shops.

Here a few new lockdown rules:

  • We may walk, bike or go for a run more than 200 metres from home. Totally my thing!
  • We may travel in our region. In my case: Tuscany.. not too bad.
  • We can visit relatives. Count me out. I have no relatives in Italy.
  • The parks and factories reopen. Ok with me.
  • And there will be take away food.
    Restaurants will offer pizza for take aways only. Yummy, finally a good pizza!

Pizza at Rosso Vivo

It is a small return to normalcy. But all with social distancing, masks and subject to local and regional rules.

On May 18 team sports can train again, museums, libraries and retail stores will reopen. Dining in restaurants from June 1 and reopening of bars, hairdressers and beauty centers.

My life in Montepulciano

The battery of my car is low. Today I have tried to start my car. It wasn’t easy as it sounds. Fortunately my neighbor and the *ACI were willing to help me to get this problem solved.

To give the battery a good charge they advised me to drive for at least 30 minutes. So I drove to Pienza and back to Montepulciano. It seemed everything normal, but it wasn’t. I was more than happy!

Road to Montepulciano

Luckily we have good weather in Tuscany. I am working on new wine projects -to be continued- and I do a lot of workouts at home. I didn’t stop tasting wines as well. I love my daily appetizer. I love wine.

As we are allowed now I went this afternoon for a short bike ride today: Montepulciano – Acquaviva – Montepulciano. This is my cycling route nearby my apartment. It’s about 20 km total downhill and uphill. A wonderful bike experience that I will repeat soon.

Cycling route

Visit Holland

In this period I should have been in Rotterdam for family matters, but my Transavia flight from Perugia to Rotterdam has been cancelled. My travel ticket is refunded.

May 4 is “Remembrance Day” in Holland. It’s a day when the Dutch can remember and commemorate the soldiers and civilians who died in WWII and other conflicts.

Tonight I saw one of my best friends in Rotterdam “Paul van de Laar” on the Dutch television (NOS website) about 75 years of liberation. He is director of Museum Rotterdam.

May 5 is liberation day. Another good friend of mine in Amsterdam has made an amazing website with images from Haarlem then (WWII) and Haarlem now. Take a look at this website.

I would like to go to Holland soon. Maybe when the phase three begins we can travel? I hope we can keep the virus down. Because if the curve sill start to increase again it will take much more longer before flights restart again… please no!

*ACI is the roadside assistance in Italy

WSET

WSET

The Wine & Spirit Education Trust, WSET, provides education and qualifications in wines for professionals and enthusiasts. Level 2 Award in Wines is an intermediate level qualification.

During the course we studied about wines, grape varieties of the world, the regions in which they are grown and the styles of wine they produce.

Through a combination of (a lot) wine tasting and theory we explored the quality, the style and how to describe the wines.

Emily O’ Hare

Our teacher for WSET level 2 is Emily O’Hare. Emily is wine writer, sommelier and she teaches WSET courses in Tuscany. Originally she’s from London but is now based in Siena.

Review

I personally enjoyed the wine study and the courses with Emily. We had a lovely group. Some participants were from my FISAR Sommelier course and some people were new. It was a nice experience and definitely a do thing. I look forward to start soon with WSET level 3.

Diploma

I got my classification! I passed my exam. Result 94% and Grade Pass with distinction. Now I have two wonderful certificates, FISAR Sommelier and WSET level 2 Award in Wines.

I still need to learn a lot more about wines. But I have a lot of interest and I am passionate about wine. I live in a wine growing area and I work in the tourism and wine business.

The best is yet to come!

Hand picking the grapes

Hand picking the grapes

Grape harvest

Hand picking the grapes means that pickers go through the vineyard and pick the grapes bunch by bunch. They can choose the ripe grapes, or rather, they can avoid picking rotten or bad grapes.

Hand picking of the grapes

The grape harvest in Tuscany usually occurs between September and October. The right period for harvesting is determined by the ripeness of the grape as measured by sugar, acid and tannin levels. Also the weather is important by planning the time of the harvest.

Some winemakers determine whether to use hand-picker workers or mechanical harvest machinery. Some benefits of hand picking the grapes are:

  • Grapes are handled gently
  • The hand picked grapes are carefully laid out so that they arrive at the press intact
  • Hand picking means you care and care is what matters…
Sangiovese grapes

Winemaking process red wine

Wine making is a natural process that requires human intervention, but each winery guides the process though different techniques. In basic, there are five components of the wine making process:

Harvesting, Crushing and Pressing, Fermentation, Clarification, Aging and Bottling

After the grapes are sorted they are ready to be de-stemmed and crushed. Mechanical presses the grapes into must. Must is a freshly juice that contains the skins, seeds and solids.

Crushing the grapes

After crushing and pressing the fermentation begins. The fermentation continues until the sugar is converted into alcohol and carbon dioxide CO2.

The crusher – destemmer

Grape skins and solids float to the top and need to be pushed back. The red wine juice is pomped from the bottom and splashed over the top of the grape cap.

When the fermentation has finished it is the time to clarify the wine. Filtration occurs by a filter. The clarified wine is ready for further aging in stainless steel, oak barrels or in bottels.

Poggio alla Sala

A group of workers at the vineyards of Poggio alla Sala picked the grapes with secateurs and put them in a basket. Then the grapes are put in a container and finally transported to the winery to be processed.

Hand picking
Hand pickers
Grape harvest Poggio alla Sala

The most planted grape at Poggio alla Sala is the Sangiovese grape. Poggio alla Sala is exposured in the southern part of Montepulciano. Some Etruscan objects are found here.

Sangiovese grapes

If you want gorgeous views as well as a good glass of wine than head to Poggio alla Sala. From here you see the Monte Amiata which influences the local climate of the lands and the vineyards.

Monte Amiata