Abruzzo is one of the largest producing pasta regions in Italy. Some of the biggest names in Abruzzo’s pasta-making business are located near Chieti. The province of Chieti is where traditional pasta types from Abruzzo have been made for centuries. Chieti is in an advantageous position for pasta making because they could use the streams of water that flow down from the Gran Sasso and the Majella, the two tallest mountains in central Italy.
Abruzzo was historically agro-pastoral in vocation. The types of pasta shapes found in Abruzzo reflect this peasant character of a land. Chitarrine, Sagnette, and Taccozze are the most well known pasta types of Abruzzo, a region that equals the pasta making capabilities of the famous Gragnano in Campania. Back in the day, pasta was made by hand at least once or twice per week. Notions and rituals of pasta preparation were handed down generation to generation. In fact the accessories for making Abruzzo’s pasta types have been part of the local Abruzzese culture for 2500 years. Many pasta shapes have been lost and then found again thanks to storytelling and small local producers that crafted machinery to reproduce these rediscovered pasta types.
As with all pasta (or any good Italian dish for that matter) the most important factor is the quality of the ingredients and their freshness. Thankfully, Abruzzo has no shortage of ancient grains and partaking in this tradition is some thing you can do when you join us on Italy Undiscovered or Italy’s Epicurean Journey and you’re welcomed into the home of an Italian family that has been farming the very same land since 1824!
The low-down on Abruzzo’s Pasta Types:
Pasta alla chitarra
“Maccheroncini alla chitarrina” is by far one of the most famous pasta types in Abruzzo. Although the name means guitar in Italian, the shape of this pasta type and origin has nothing to do with the musical instrument. It is prepared with flour, eggs and water and cut into pieces of dough that are 10 inches wide. They are then pushed onto the tool called “Lu carratur”, the guitar, which separates the dough into pieces that are reminiscent of a thicker and squared off spaghetti. It is eaten on special occasions like a Sunday family lunch, and paired with the ragu abruzzese, then topped off with the famous “ pallottine” (tiny meatballs typical of Teramo, that are all made by hand).
Ready to try your hand at using the “Lu carratur” to make Maccheroncini alla chitarrina pasta on your next trip to Italy?
Also called tacconelle, taccozzedamuline, taccozzelle and many other names. This pasta is prepared with corn flour, wheat flour, water and sometimes leftovers of polenta. The name derives from the dialectical term notch, or patch which originates from the German term for a splinter of wood: “Tak”. This refers to the imprecise shape of this pasta type. Another naming hypothesis says the name originated in Ascoli Piceno (your homebase when you join us on tour in Le Marche) , because the boots used by farmers in the countryside were characterized by large heels, called “tacconi”. If you’re asking what is the right size for a taccone, in the best italian tradition it is very vague. Generally the size of a baby’s hand. Do how do you cook this pasta type? Taccozze has to be cooked together with tomatoes in a large container and is usually seasoned with ricotta.
This pasta type originates from the northernmost province in Abruzzo, called Teramo. Specifically from One of Italy’s Most Beautiful Villages: Civitella del Tronto, which is also home to the largest medieval fortress in Italy which you can visit with a private guide on the 10 day Italy’s Epicurean Journey. Ceppe are similar to short bucatini that are only 3-4 inches in length, but thicker. The name “Ceppa” comes from the fact that the dough (made up of flour, egg, and water) is wrapped up around a small wooden piece called the “ceppa”. Over time this pasta type took on the name of the tool that is used to make it. Today most pasta makers no longer use the wooden version, but instead use a small “ceppa” made of stainless steel that resembles the original wooden one. The perfect way to enjoy this pasta is with with porcini mushrooms or also with a nice ragu.
This Abruzzese pasta type is shared amongst many central regions of Italy such as Umbria, Lazio and Marche. The strips are made of flour eggs and water, and sometimes even spelt is added to the mix to give them a thicker consistency. In the past they were considered a sort of medicine as the spelt flour in very nutritious giving a lot of energy to the lucky eater. The most traditional way to eat this pasta type is with beans, in a souplike dish that can be found in some traditional osterie in Abruzzo.
The Volarelle pasta type comes from the mountains near the capital city of Abruzzo, L’Aquila. They’re served on cold winter days with broth. The dough is cut in large square pieces and lightly fried to become almost like toasted bread. Finally they are placed in the broth sometimes with thistle, a local vegetable that is roasted first and then put in the soup. At Christmas small meatballs can be added to the mix. The unique cooking method of this pasta comes from the Romans, which used to fry a particular kind of dough called “ catillus ornatus”, which was made of lettuce, red wine and spelt flour, all mixed to make something that looked like fritters, one of the ancestors of pasta.
Have you tried any of these pasta types from Abruzzo, Italy? If so let us know your favorite in the comments below!