My atelier

Travel information

Local food specialities

The Pici represent an authentic traditional dish of the rural culture of the Val d’Orcia and the southern part of the Siena province. Was born like a poor dish of the peasant family made of flour, salt and water. Now a days is become a typical pasta served also and especially in natty restaurant. It is a kind of tasty thick pasta that is usually served with ragu' sauce that remain sticked to the pici. The best pici I've ever eat are those that my mum still home-makes for the tradicional celebrations. If you want to cook some pici at home, usually you can find very good ones at the Conad Supermarket although they are made with a pasta-maker.

Chianina Beef
The Chianina (pronounced kee-a-nee-na) may well be one of the oldest breeds of cattle in existence. They were praised by the Georgic poets, Columella and Vergil, and were the models for Roman sculptures. The name comes from the Val di Chiana where the Chianina has been bred for more than 22 centuries. The Chianina is the world biggest bovine, known for its juicy meat, rich in protein and low in fat and cholesterol. For centuries the famous "bistecca alla fiorentina", a Chianina t-bone steak cooked over the coals, has delighted the table of the gourmets.

Cinta Senese pig
The Cinta is a medium size black skin pig with a characteristic pink and white belt (cinta means belt) and a long and narrow snout. The Cinta senese is one of the most requested porcine races in the world representing the authentic “made in Tuscany”. This race has very antique origins as you can see in very old paintings like the fresco “Good Government” by Ambrogio Lorenzetti at the Palazzo Pubblico in Siena. The Cinta Senese is the forefather of all the Tuscan pigs. It is almost savage and very resistant to bad weather, for these reasons it represented a secure food reserve for the farmers and their families. This type of swine grows very slowly (the slaughtering age is never less than 12 months), this is one of the reasons why farmers, in the past, abandoned this race in favour of races which grow much faster. The pigs are raised half wild feeding in the forests where they eat grass, tubers, roots and acorns. The Cinta hams, salamis or lards are therefore very tasty and extremely appreciated.

Pecorino cheese
One of the best chees-factory in Montepulciano area is the Cugusi one. They started the Pecorino production in 1962 when, the parents of the actual nine owners of the Factory, came from Sardinia. The Pecorino origins, in fact, form a kind of sheep (Sardinian sheep) who are bred in almost wild herd with particular type of pasture (made of grass rich of aromatic herbs) that give the unmistakable and characteristic delicate taste. They still use the antique techniques to produce the several types of pecorino that they bring into the market.The farmhouse is located on the statal street SS146 to go to Pienza (Via della Boccia 8, Montepulciano), just out of Montepulciano; otherwise you can also find their products in the store that they have in Montepulciano (Via di Gracciano nel Corso).

Extra-virgin olive oil
The olive oil is a fundamental ingredient of the Mediterranean diet and a very traditional high quality product of the Sienese hills. Here, the olive trees grow between 300 and 600 metres of altitude, where the environmental pollution is so limited to make the anti-parasite treatments unnecessary. As a consequence, the local olive oil does not contain toxic residues. One of the best oil-mill in the Montepulciano area is the Frantoio di Montepulciano, a farmers cooperative that put together hundreds of small farmers who are respecting all the traditional techniques like extract the oil from the olives only by mechanical pressure and at cold temperature. That, permit to preserve the natural characteristics of the product and keep its acidity at the lowest level. The extra-virgin olive oil should be consumed raw, for example in pinzimonio, as a dressing for salads or vegetables, in the traditional Tuscan soups or, of course, on the classic bruschetta.

"Coscia di monaca" plum
This is an indigenous wild plum variety called "mascina" o "coscia di monaca" (“nun’s thighs”) for its unmistakable elongated shape and a very pronounced and sweet taste. This yummy fruit is producted especially in the Montepulciano area and a single susino tree produces a considerable quantity of fruits in the hottest period of the year (August). The best way to conserve it is making a jam. Usually the local plum jam is very good and very helthy because it's made only with plum and eventually a little bit of sugar. My mum is use to make a very good plum jam... ask her to prove it!

Cantuccini: They are typical Tuscan biscuits with almonds, ideal to accompany the Vinsanto.
Panforte: Its origins go back to the honeyed breads that were prepared in the Medieval period. It is a sweet spiced bread with a flour base, almonds, dry fruits, candied fruit and spices. White or with chocolate, it is one of the gastronomic symbols of Siena and a typical Christmas sweet, even if it is possible to find it all the year round.
Cavallucci: Typical biscuit of the local tradicion, is characterized by the mixture of spices and walnut taste enriched by high quality ingredients like orange peel and candied cedar. The singularity of this biscuit is to be spicy, due to the addition of black pepper, anise, walnut and ginger. It should be consumed with a glass of a good red wine, typical on Christmas time.
Ricciarelli: Lozenge-shaped almond biscuits made by mixing almond paste, honey and vanilla. Very difficult to make at home, they exist white (covered by icing sugar) and black (covered by chocolate). If they are fresh, they are soft and smooth. Always in winter time and especially in Chritmas time.

Pici al ragu'
Chianina Beef
Cinta Senese pig
Pecorino cheese
Extra-virgin olive oil
"Coscia di monaca" plum