Beaches and Pici

Our next stop on this first day in southern Tuscany had to be the seaside which, at a natural beach near Pescia Fiorentina was blissful with wavelets massaging our bodies into utter relaxation. We could not believe that we found a seaside place in Italy which was not overrun by masses of people escaping towards their Ferragosto. Yes, such havens of peace do still exist by the coast.

We returned via Marsilia where we attended a sagra dei Pici, a sort of thick long spaghetti, characteristic of the area of southern Tuscany, Val d’Orcia and Val di Chiana. What’s interesting about Pici is that they are all of different lengths, unlike your standard spaghetti. Pici are made with water, flour and a few eggs. The classic seasoning is with aglione (tomato sauce with a very special type of large garlic with only four segments, grown in the area.) I was a little wary of trying the aglione and instead chose a more standard ragù. However, next time in the area I’ll truly settle for the Pici con aglione.

The sagra was very convivial with a characteristic large and loud gathering of families and friends.

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Our evening concluded with fine theatrical performances by a band of travelling actors who enacted family reminiscences in Manciano’s castle keep in true Shakespeare-wallah style with three generations of the same family. How wonderful that these traditional players, so famously described in ‘Hamlet’, are still active in Italy. The main play had its tragic tales shot through with harrowing war experiences so the players decided to send us home with a little farce or ‘intermedio’ (yet another Italian tradition – for example in opera seria too). Uproaringly hilarious, it concentrated on that Italian obsession with food, or how it should be presented.

We didn’t get home until after 1 am, thoroughly pleased with our first day in the southern Maremma of Tuscany.

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