Spaghetti alla Chitarra all’Amatriciana and My (Not So) Authentic Souvenir from Rome

Pasta alla Chitarra 1Now that’s a mouthful, isn’t it? I was talking about the title but the same applies to the dish. It’s one that I was served in Rome and I couldn’t wait to make it at home — but there was a problem. Although I’ve dressed pasta in this way, I didn’t own a chitarra, (guitar). No, I’ve not taken up an instrument during my time off.

A chitarra is a piece of pasta making equipment that pre-dates the pasta machines common today. Abruzzo claims to be the instrument’s point of origin, believing it was developed there in the early 1800’s. A little larger than a shoe box, this chitarra has a number of strings evenly spaced on either side of a (removable) board. Each of the two sides creates a different pasta. Mine, for example, produces spaghetti and linguine. You place a dough strip on top of the strings and use a rolling-pin to score and form the pasta noodles. If they remain attached, a strum or two on the strings will cause them to fall to the board. Neat, huh? Unless, like me, you don’t own one.

When I went to Italy, I had a couple of things in mind to bring back home, one of which was a chitarra. Although I did see a couple in the first days of my trip, they didn’t make the type of pasta I wanted nor did they seem very durable, particularly considering that my “souvenir” would be stuffed into a suitcase. Remember the American Tourister adverts? These chitarre would never have survived the trip home, even though my bag was, coincidentally, an American Tourister. Unfortunately, I never saw a chitarra again — and it’s not for lack of looking. In fact, my last morning in Rome was spent going to housewares shops looking for the pasta maker. I finally gave up and, being near the Trevi Fountain, tossed in a few coins before treating myself to a peach gelato. Shopping is hard work, no matter the locale.

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4 Coins for the Fountain

Didn’t find a chitarra but the morning wasn’t a complete loss. The Trevi Fountain was fed.

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I probably would have let things end there but, as luck would have it, I was served today’s dish in Rome the night before and couldn’t get it out of my mind. The pasta was fantastic and I wanted a chitarra even more. So, when I returned home from Michigan, I went to my favorite online site for pasta equipment and bought myself a chitarra. Made on this side of the Atlantic, it’s a sturdy piece of equipment and, unlike those abroad, it can be sent back to be restrung when needed — for a price, of course. The chitarra was delivered within days and today’s dish is the result of our first duet. (By the way, if anyone asks, I bought my chitarra at a quaint little shop not far from our flat in Rome. Mum’s the word.)

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Click to enlarge

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Though originating in Amatrice in the 18th century, this sugo is based upon one that pre-dates the arrival of tomatoes from America to the Italian peninsula. (That dish, Spaghetti alla Gricia, is another I enjoyed while in Rome and will be sharing the recipe in the weeks to come.) It wasn’t long before the dish traveled to Rome, where it was quickly adopted and has become one of the Eternal City’s “classic” dishes. Today, Amatriciana is often used to dress bucatini, though not exclusively, as proven by my dinner that night. As you’ll soon see, it is one of the easiest tomato-based pasta sauces to prepare.

Sugo all’Amatriciana, in its purest form, consists of 3 ingredients: guanciale, tomatoes, and Pecorino Romano cheese. Depending upon the amount of fat rendered from the guanciale, a little extra virgin olive oil may be required. Add a little salt and pepper and your sugo is ready to go. As you might imagine, there are variations. The pasta I was served contained a hint of garlic and a little heat from red pepper flakes. Onions were not used and, according to my waiter, they rarely, if ever, are. So there you have it. If you’re using homemade pasta, this dinner can be on the table in well under 30 minutes. In fact, it will take longer for the pasta water to boil than for any other part of the dish to be prepared.

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Pasta alla Chitarra 1

This is what I served

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Spaghetti alla Chitarra all’Amatriciana Recipe

Ingredients

  • spaghetti alla chitarra, not quite fully cooked — bucatini may be substituted
  • 1 to 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 to 4 oz (28 to 112 g) guanciale, cut in lardons — pancetta may be substituted (See Notes)
  • crushed red pepper flakes to taste (optional)
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed (optional)
  • cherry tomatoes, halved – quantity depends upon preference and servings prepared (See Notes)
  • Pecorino Romano cheese
  • salt and pepper

Directions

  1. Cook pasta in a large pot of salted water. (See Notes)
  2. Meanwhile, heat guanciale in a large frying pan over medium heat.
  3. When all the guanciale’s fat is just about rendered, add red pepper flakes and a crushed clove of garlic, if using. Add a little olive oil if the pan is too dry.
  4. When the garlic is golden brown, remove and discard it. By this point, the guanciale should be cooked but not “to a crisp”.
  5. The pasta should be nearing completion. Add the tomatoes to the frying pan. Raise the heat to med-high.
  6. Reserve a cup of the pasta water before draining the pasta.
  7. Add the pasta to the frying pan, stir and cook all the ingredients together until the pasta is cooked al dente. If too dry, add some of the pasta water to compensate.
  8. Turn off the heat, add a handful of grated Pecorino Romano cheese, and mix to combine. Add more pasta water if too dry.
  9. Serve immediately, garnished with more Pecorino Romano cheese and freshly cracked pepper.

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Spaghetti alla Chitarra all'Amatriciana

This is what I was served

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Notes

The most important issue when preparing pasta alla Amatriciana has to do with timing. If using freshly made pasta, as I did, the sugo will need to be almost fully cooked when the pasta is added to the water since the pasta will be ready in 2 to 3 minutes. If using store-bought or dried pasta, follow the package directions and drain the pasta when it is about 2 minutes shy of al dente.

Although guanciale is preferred, not everyone can find this Italian pork product. Pancetta may be substituted, as can non-smoked bacon. As much as I love smoked bacon, its smoky flavor would overpower the rest of this simple dish.

The dish I was served used halved cherry tomatoes. You could easily substitute one or two chopped fresh tomatoes, depending on the portions to be served.

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Bella Firenze

(Click to enlarge any/all photos)

Florence view

The City of Florence, West of the Arno River, as seen from the Piazzale di Michelangelo. On the left is the covered bridge, the Ponte Vecchio; in the center is the tower of the Palazzo Vecchio; further right are 2 domes, the smaller of which is the Basilica di San Lorenzo; and the remaining tower and dome belong to the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore, though known the World-over as Il Duomo.

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My favorite city in the World, Florence was the birthplace and heart of the Italian Renaissance, while the city itself is a masterpiece. The basilicas that dot the landscape were each designed by the finest architects of the time. The art collections of the Uffizi Gallery — once the offices of the Medici family — are among the World’s finest, while the Piazza della Signoria is like no other. Walking its streets, you can feel the history and easily imagine you’re in the 15th century, hurrying to meet friends in front of the Baptistery of St. John. You don’t see Florence, you experience it.

I was the first to arrive at our flat, my friends were in transit from Sicily. This flat, too, had a terrace. To the South, we saw Il Duomo; to the North, San Lorenzo. Our days began and ended on that terrace.

Florence Terrace ViewsThat there are so many large cathedrals in the Florence speaks volumes of its stature in Italy and all of Europe in the 15th and 16th centuries. Each, a thing of beauty in its own right, contains priceless works of art, not to mention the tombs of some very famous people. Above them all sits the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore, Il Duomo. Its external walls are made of 3 kinds of marble, each a different color — red, green, and white — and positioned in patterns composed of vertical and horizontal lines The cathedral’s magnificent dome was designed by famed architect, Brunelleschi. Just beyond its main entrance lies the Baptistery of St. John, the bronze doors of which, “The Gates of Paradise“, were designed by Ghiberti, The Basilica di San Lorenzo, also, features a dome designedPeek-a-Boo Duomo, at night by Brunelleschi though he died before its completion. This cathedral contains the tombs of members of the powerful Medici family. If it’s tombs you like, then you must visit the Basilica di Santa Croce. Within this beautiful cathedral’s walls you’ll find the tombs of Michelangelo, Galileo, and Machiavelli, to name a few. There are, also, funerary monuments for other famous Florentines, like Fermi and Dante.

Too dark for you? Is “high art” more your style? Then head to the Basilica di San Miniato al Monte. Located atop one of the highest points in Florence, it is perhaps the best example of Romanesque architecture in all of Tuscany. While you’re there, be sure to visit the Piazzale di Michelangelo which offers one of the most beautiful views of the city of Florence. (See photos above and below.)

Don’t feel much like climbing a hill? Then stroll over to the Church of San Marco where you’ll find frescoes by the Renaissance artist, Fra Angelico. The Church, though, is only the starter. For the main course, head next door to the monastery, where Fra Angelico, himself a monk, and his students decorated each monk’s cell with a beautiful fresco upon which he could reflect and meditate. It is an incredible collection of early Renaissance works by a true Master. All that’s left, then, is the dessert. For that, head down the street to the Galerie de l’Académie, where you’ll find Michelangelo’s massive statue, “David”. A more satisfying meal cannot be served and there is still so much more of Florence to savor. Get ready for your first taste.

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Since I’ve spent so much time writing about cathedrals, I thought I’d share some photos of the Basilica of Santa Maria Novella, named “Novella”, New, because it was built upon the site of an earlier Church, Santa Maria delle Vigne. Completed in 1470, it is the first of the city’s great cathedrals to be built. In the center of the Cathedral hangs Giotto’s “Crucifix”, while its walls and side chapels, capelle, are decorated with frescoes created by some of the Renaissance’s most gifted artists. The sanctuary behind the awe-inspiring altar is called the Cappella Tornabuoni. The remarkably well-preserved frescoes decorating its walls were created by Ghirlandaio and his assistants, the most famous of which was a young Michelangelo.

(Though all photos are mine — like you couldn’t tell? –Wikipedia supplied some details and historical data.)

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 In and around Florence

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Florence, East of the Arno River

The City of Florence, East of the Arno River, as seen from the Piazzale di Michelangelo. To the left are remnants of the City’s walls with Galileo’s home just beyond the crest. If you look closely, you can see the dome of the Basilica of Santo Spirito, in the distance just to the left of the Arno River, beyond the Ponte Vecchio.

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There’s more Florence yet to come.

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It’s déjà vu all over again …

Salmon with Dill en PapilloteNever mind our cool weather. It’s grilling season and here’s a way to cook fish on your barbecue without fear of the fillets sticking to the grates. Seasoned and enclosed in aluminum foil, you’d be hard-pressed to find an easier way to prepare fish.  Oh! Did I mention how flavorful it is? Well, you can see three recipes for preparing fish in this way just by clicking HERE.

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Coming soon to a monitor near you …

Pistachio Gelato Pistachio Gelato

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169 thoughts on “Spaghetti alla Chitarra all’Amatriciana and My (Not So) Authentic Souvenir from Rome

  1. Ok – now that you have gotten me all hot and bothered remembering . . . I so recall my younger daughter standing at an almighty early hour on her veranda overlooking the Arno: ‘Mommy, are we in fairyland?’ . . . Not in Florence nor later in Venice did we ever have any problems with our kids , , , it was just magic as it is with you now 🙂 !!!! I just lovingly scroll all your photos and cannot wait for the next lot!!!!!!!!!!

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    • Thanks, Eha. I’m so glad you’ve enjoyed this post and that daughter of yours really nailed it. Florence really is such a mystical place that there should be fairies flitting about. Going through my photos, selecting them for these posts, is taking me quite a bit of time. Though the memories are still fresh, the photos add a dimension to them and I find myself stopping to ponder each one. I cannot get back there soon enough! Have a good week, Dear.

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      • Oh dearHeart, daughter-of-mine these days had her very own thoughts but I doubt feeling ‘fairness’ ever changed!! OK – Venice won out with both her ‘important’ relationships! Both just HAD to make it formal there!!! So much for the Florence I love 🙂 !!!!!

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  2. Fabulous post, John. I’ve heard of the chittara but never seen one before. Great piece of kit. I tried to comment on my Reader but received a stern WordPress rejection” That method not allowed” or something to that effect!. I don’t think WordPress is Italian:)

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    • Thanks, Roger. It’s good o see you back here again. Yes the chitarra is a neat piece an, now that I’ve got that the hang of it, a quick way to cut pasta. As a citizen of the Republic of San Marino, I don’t wish to comment upon the nationality of WP — neutral, you know — but I cannot help but wonder if WP ran better when Mussolini was in charge. 😉

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    • Thank you, Darya. It is for me, too. It is what classic Italian cooking is all about. A few fresh ingredients combined to bring out the best in each. Perfection on a plate. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. 🙂

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  3. I have to say, John, that your own handmade pasta and plating/presentation of your Amatriciana looks so much better than the dish you were served in Rome! I’m sure they both tasted great though. Very nice pasta harp btw and smart move to buy it locally so that you can get it restrung if need be. I love the photos of your trip and love it even more that you are recreating dishes that you were served while you were there.

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    • Thanks, Laura, that’s very kind o you to say. I have to admit, though, that I would have bought a chitarra in Italy, if I only could have found one that was for use and not for tourists. I’m just glad I’d seen the one state-side so I knew what to look for before purchasing. As it worked out, I’ve got a very nice, sturdy pasta maker and I’m very pleased. I just can’t wait to bring it to Zia to show her. Either she’ll see it as a nifty improvement or a colossal waste of money. Remember, she’s been cutting pasta by hand. Who needs a new contraption? 🙂

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      • I’m sure she’ll like it if not for it’s true utility than perhaps for it’s potential musical capabilities and well it sure is a talking piece! I was a little embarrassed before to mention that we always cut our pasta by hand when I was a kid (one of these would have definitely come in handy) but if it’s good enough for Zia than it’s definitely good enough for me!

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        • To be honest, Laura, I cut most of my pasta by hand. I love pappardelle and tagliatelle. You just cannot find a machine that will cut pasta that wide. So, now I make about 1.5 pounds of pasta dough and hand-cut 2/3 to make pappardelle or tagliatelle and use the chitarra to make spaghetti with the remaining 1/3. That keeps me well-stocked with pasta. 🙂

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    • You are very welcome! When one has a memory as bad as mine, revisiting the sites of a recent vacation is one way to remember them. See? A method to my madness. 😉

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    • Thanks, Conor. I struggled with my hand cranked machine, too and cut most of my pasta by hand. Now, though I still cut plenty by hand, I make sure to reserve some dough for the chitarra — the best of both worlds. 🙂

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  4. What a wonderful looking meal. Nothing beats a simple meal with fresh ingredients. The memories also add a wonderful element. All those photos have me longing to go back to Italy!

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    • Exactly! This is about as traditional as an Italian dish gets and it’s basically 3 ingredients. My Zia laughs when she watches modern TV chefs prepare an Italian dish using a dozen ingredients. Let the ingredients do the talking.

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  5. Oh. Oh my. Oh.

    E.g. was asking me last night where I’d like to travel to next, and I was saying I’m content to stick close to home now, and explore New England by car, maybe take a bus tour to NYC… that was before seeing this post.

    Of course, we would need to spend a month in Florence…

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  6. That chitarra looks fantastic – it’s so good to see something well made of metal and wood instead of plastic. Similarly the pasta looks delicious and it’s just in time for the amazing English tomatoes that the farmer has at the market here.
    I like the views too – I’m not in the least bit religious, but I always visit old churches to look at the architecture and stained glass 😉

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    • It is a well-made piece, MD, and I agree. No plastics! I, too, head for the churches, especially in Florence. The amount of fine art to be found in them is really astounding. Add to it the tombs and each cathedral’s architecture and each is a museum in itself.

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  7. Oh how lucky you were able to buy your chitarra at a quaint little shop not far from your flat in Rome – wink wink, nudge nudge. 😉
    Beautiful photos John – you will have the memories of your trip fresh in your mind each time you look through your photos.
    Have a wonderful day.
    🙂 Mandy xo

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    • Exactly! This is one way of ensuring that I remember all of the sites, Mandy. (If I had a memory I’d be dangerous!) I only hope I can remember the location of that shop so that I can get back there the next time I’m in Rome (or the webpage of my Italian pasta maker store.)

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  8. Another fabulous post John. What a beautiful Chitarra you managed to acquire… looks like you’ve mastered it already too! I’ve never seen or heard of them before – happy to learn something new.
    My memories of Florence are a little hazy, as we were travelling with our eldest child who had just turned one. It’s a place I’d love to return to, without the distractions of nappy changes, daytime naps (well, perhaps that one could stay…) and early bedtimes! 🙂

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    • Thanks, Margot. A chitarra is really quite easy to use. Once I got the hang of it, the pasta was just flying off the strings. And it’s a great reminder of my last day in Rome, going from housewares shop to shop, looking for one.
      I give you and your DH a whole lotta credit for tackling a European vacation with a one-year-old. Still, if that’s the only way you could see Florence, then grab the stroller and let’s go! 🙂

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      • John, it was one of the best holidays we’ve ever had! We rented an apartment in Venice for a week and a farmhouse in Umbria for a week – absolutely beautiful and the Italian people were so generous and wonderful with our little blonde-haired bambino! Just a shame we didn’t get to spend more time in Florence… though there’s always next time! 🙂

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  9. That’s a pasta dish I can get behind and with a big supply of golden cherry tomatoes I’ll have to give this a whirl. The trip photos are really inspiring.

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  10. Bravo on your purchase and the joy of using it — handmade feeds the belly and the soul like nothing else. Thanks for your tour around Florence, it is a place to pause and soak in rich history and beauty; there is never enough time. We had a private tour while we were there (worth every penny) and we learned so much more than had we simply walked and gawked (that’s our term for it anyway). What a wonderful trip for you, look forward to seeing more of your photos and stories. 🙂

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    • Thank you, Judy. My first 2 trips to Florence, I was armed with great tour books, though I do know some tours offer access to areas otherwise restricted. I have taken tours when in Bangkok and again in Ephesus and you’re right. They were certainly worth the cost. Now, when in Florence or Rome, I head to my favorite places and just “hang out,” with a real sense of gratitude for being there. That’s why I fought the crowds to return and toss coins in the Trevi Fountain. I’ve done it every time I’ve been in Rome and have managed, somehow, to get back there. I hope it works again! 🙂

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  11. I’ve thought about getting a chitarra, but haven’t pulled the trigger yet. I just don’t make that style of pasta that often. And there’s a restaurant that’s a 20 minute walk from my house where I can buy fresh pasta in that shape (and others, if I choose). So I guess my motivation is lacking. 😉 Great dish. I often put onion in my Amatriciana, but then I’m an American. 🙂 I do know it’s not authentic, but it’s good. Love hearing about your travels — thanks.

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    • You remind me of a blogging friend that lives in France. When I share a cheese recipe for making a cheese at home. as much as he might like it, he begs off in favor of the many cheeses that surround him. 🙂
      I bought the chitarra at the same place I buy my ravioli molds. I believe I’ve already gave you the website. If not, here’s the link.

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  12. An excellent investment in your new instrument. How cool that it is made in America? Looks like you put it to immediate good use. Oh, that I lived closer.
    I enjoy seeing your photos and reading about your travels. I’ve been to Italy twice but one trip calls for another. I appreciate your sharing the sights to we can travel with you vicariously.

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    • Thanks, Ruth. Nothing would please me more than to have you over for a pasta dinner. Better still, have yo come over a little early and I’d teach you how to make some for yourself. Copious amounts of wine would be involved, of course. 🙂 You’re so right about Italy. I’ve been there a half-dozen times and each has left me wanting to go back even more. It’s a remarkable place, to be sure.

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  13. I’ve also learned my lesson – now when I travel, if I see something I really want, I buy it the first time I see it. 🙂 But how great it is that you’ve found your Chitarra after all (yes, in a quaint Italian shop…:) ). The dish looks so very tasty. A great demonstration of “less is more”. 🙂

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    • How true, Ronit. Never again will I wait. It did work out for the best, though. The chitarra I bought is much better made than the ones I saw in Bologna and Florence. Even so, I won’t wait next time. Gee, I hope there’s a next time. 🙂

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    • That’s the thing about the traditional Italian dishes, Mary, their beauty lies in their simplicity. You can taste each of the few ingredients used. Wait till I post the recipe for this dish’s predecessor, Pasta all Gricia. It’s even more simple, believe it or not. 🙂

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    • Me, too, Ingrid. Too bad I couldn’t erect a scaffold so that I could get a better perspective on the stained glass and frescoes. That chapel is such a beautiful thing to behold, as are all of Florence’s cathedrals. Such a wonderful city!

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  14. Your pasta looks delicious John and the memories it brings you are an added bonus I am sure. Thank you for sharing some of the photos you took. The inside of the church looks amazing – each part of the church was created by true artists.

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    • Thanks, Collin. Florence’s cathedrals are something to see! The architecture of each reflects the architect’s vision, of course, but also the religious order that was to be in charge of the church once built. The sensibilities of the Dominicans were taken into account in the design of Santa Maria Novella, for example, while the Franciscans were considered when plans were made for Santa Croce.

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  15. I often cook Amatriciana, of course, but I prefer Bucatini instead of Spaghetti alla Chitarra. I do love that little noise everybody makes eating this kind of pasta!
    I like Florence, but it is not my favourite town… have you never seen Venezia?!

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    • Once again, Silva, your words leave me smiling. (The “little noise.”) I, too, made Amatrciana with Bucatini but really enjoyed this dish when it was served to me in Rome. Besides, what better way to christen my chitarra?
      I’ve been fortunate to visit Venice 3 times, Silva, and thoroughly enjoyed my time there. It is such a beautiful city and I can see why you love it so.

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  16. I have to agree with some other readers here that your version of the dish looks better than the Roman one! 🙂 Love the chitarra, what a fun way to make pasta. And how fascinating to learn that the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore exterior walls are made of the three colors of marble…and I see it so clearly in your photo! Firenze is definitely on my bucket list, and I so enjoyed seeing your photos…and look forward to those to come. And, oh yes, the pistachio gelato…mustn’t forget that! Looking forward to that, too. 🙂

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    • Thanks, Betsy. I don’t know if my dish looks better but it does ave one thing it its favor: there’s no 8 hour plane ride involved. 🙂
      I do hope you make it to Florence, Betsy. It is such a beautiful place. It’s a trip you won’t forget and, no matter how long you stay, it won’t be enough. Trust me.
      You’ll like the gelato, too. 🙂

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  17. Well excellent. If you must have it you must have it even if it is made stateside.. i mean from a little store down the road in rome!! (wink), I am intrigued by this little passive gadget, especially for spaghetti which i find the hardest to make in my own pasta maker.. (lessons are welcome!) .. great recipe and wonderful shots.. have a wonderful evening.. this weather is extraordinary, not so good for the tomatoes though!.. c

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    • My tomatoes are just about a total loss this year. It’s so tragic as to be laughable. Zia and I have talked about how hard it is to make spaghetti with our machines, too. The dough has to be just right or it’s a losing proposition. That’s when I start cutting the pasta by hand. I’ll bring my chitarra when I come for ravioli day. We can make pasta with any leftover dough and, once dry, it will keep for quite some time. 🙂

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  18. John, this is such a nice post. I love your chitarra and almost bought one a couple of years ago. I have always regretted not buying it. I also love the photos from your vacation. One of these years before I pass I will eventually make it to Italy. 🙂

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    • Thanks, Richard. I must admit that I’ve already used the chitarra far more than I thought. With just a little bit of experience, you can really fly and make quite a bit of pasta relatively quickly.
      I sure hope you do make it to Italy, Richard. I, for one, will love reading your posts and the recipes you’ll share that will be inspired by your trip. Yum! 🙂

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  19. I love that thing! It looks like so much fun. You remind me though that I only got to spend two days in Florence and it was way too long ago. It is one place that never fails to impress me. One day i will go back and I hope sooner rather than later. I could have spent two days just staring at David, if the guard hadn’t pushed me along!

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    • Only 2 days? They’d have had to drag me away! I really do love being there, more so with every visit. One of my favorite pastimes now is to find a seat, say in the Uffizi Gallery, and just watch the people as they gaze upon some famous work of art. L’Accademia and “David” is an especially good place to watch people’s expressions.Talk about a Wow Factor! 🙂

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  20. What a joy to obtain what you were looking for. ‘chitarra’. I wonder if the idea of an egg-slicer came from chitarra? 🙂 The amatriciana is very delectable and the tour of Florence brought back 30 year old fond memories. A little trivia… the word tār means ‘string’ in Persian and hence all string instruments ending in ‘tar’. 🙂

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    • 30 years, Fae? You are long overdue to return. I think you’ll find that, except for the crowds, little has changed. 🙂 My first time there was about 25 years ago. How time flies!
      Your comment about the Persian works “târ” reminds me of why I love blogging so. Through it, I learn so many fascinating things above and beyond recipes. How else would I have learned that our name for a stringed instrument has Persian origins? Like I said, fascinating. Thanks for sharing that with me. 🙂

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  21. I love your photos, John. The stained glass is just breathtaking, as is all of Florence, I’m sure. I have never been, and I know I would be in heaven! Your search for a chitarra reaffirms that you are an authentic Italian cook. Not sure about the syntax there. LOL! I already know you’re authentically Italian, but you know my meaning. 🙂 You don’t cut corners on effort when you want to create a delicious meal, and this pasta looks just amazing. I love that it has three ingredients, and what flavorful ingredients they are! Mouth-watering. I’m certain that every time you use your chitarra, even though purchased in the U.S., you’ll be transported to your favorite city!

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    • Debra, you would fall in love with Florence. I promise. There is just so much to see that, no matter how much time you set aside, you won’t see everything. Like most, you’ll find yourself saying things like, “Let’s skip Cathedral X with works by the master Y so that we can go to Cathedral Z and see master A’s works.” Where else in the world is such a statement possible?
      Though I’m not one much for collecting souvenirs, my home is peppered with a few small items, seeing each one reminds me of that place and time. Like you mentioned, using the chitarra is such a great reminder of the wonderful trip I just took. I’m so glad I went ahead and bought one — at that lovely little store not far from the flat. 😉

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  22. Let me echo the compliments on the pics John. One thing I love about Italy, as a enthusiatic ‘snapper,’ is that there’s so much subject matter! Strangely enough I was looking at one of these chitarra pasta cutters the other day, I knew I should have bought it…Great pasta as always John.

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    • Thanks, Phil. I remember going to Italy before the digital age. Every click of the shutter meant a larger bill back home when it came to developing the film. Now, the opposite is true and I’ve got hundreds of pics to wade through, many of which get deleted.
      As it turned out, I’m very glad I bought this chitarra from a place here in the States. It’s a far sturdier piece of equipment than those I had seen while touring. Being a gadget lover, a chitarra is a perfect addition to the mix.

      Like

  23. What a cool tool for making pasta! I’ve never seen one. I’ve been considering buying a pasta machine (thanks to all of your wonderful homemade pasta), but after seeing the chitarra, I think I would prefer it instead. It’s more organic. 🙂 Sounds like you actually did better getting a good one by NOT finding one in Rome. The pasta and the resulting dish are look heavenly and I’m sure taste as good as it looks. Thanks for another great recipe and for sharing your travels to Florence. The pictures are lovely!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, MJ. I agree and I think this chitarra is a better piece than anything I saw. It’s surprisingly fast to use, too. I can really whip out a batch of pasta in no time — and I’m still a novice with it. With or without a chitarra, you should try this pasta dish. Ready if minutes, it is soo easy to prepare and the quanciale adds such a great flavor to the dish. I really like it.

      Like

  24. You’ve outdone yourself my friend – you ‘brought’ us on a delightful trip to Florence, gave us all kinds of fascinating info. about ‘how to make pasta on a guitar’ LOL and, in your spare time, included a delicious recipe. WE LOVE YOU JOHN !!

    Liked by 1 person

    • You are far too kind, Cecile. Thank you so much. I’m glad you enjoyed the post. Actually, it was just another excuse for me to look at my photos again and reminisce. 🙂

      Like

  25. Ah yes that quaint little shop in the Roman side street – we all go there to buy our chitarras! Do hope you threw your coin in backwards over your shoulder – and did you dance in the fountain like Anita Ekberg or put you hand in the lion’s mouth like Audrey Hepburn?! Love, love, love Rome but it’s been waaaaay too many years. However, as I always throw a coin in the fountain I know I’ll be back one day. My brother proposed to his wife on the Spanish Steps – how romantic! Ok, onto the amazing food – yours looks (dare I say it) even more appetising than the one you were served…and that looked “magnifico”! I want a chitarra now too so will have to go and track down your shop 😉
    The photos of Florence bought back so many memories of a couple of days I spent there about 30 (gulp!) years ago with my parents and brother when I was studying history of art. Poor things, I dragged them into so many churches and galleries, my brother ate so many ice creams he threw up on the Ponte Vecchio (how embarassing 😦 ) and then our car got towed away a few hours before we had to drive to Milano to catch the night train to France. We were rescued by a Mafioso (really…dark glasses, coat over the shoulders, bodygaurds and a big limo) whose henchmen drove us to the city pound, got it opened up and the fine was waived because we were fellow countrymen visiting the homeland! It’s become a family legend 🙂 Thanks for the great recipe and the wonderful memories John x

    Liked by 1 person

    • Grazie, Tanya. You wold not have believed how crowded the Treve Fountain area was. We were there on Thursday and it was bad. I fought my way to the top of the steps, took a pic, and we left. I returned by myself on Friday to toss the coins and it was worse. I couldn’t even get to the steps. I tossed the coins over everyone’s heads and headed for gelato. I wasn’t even in front of the fountain 5 minutes. I’ve been there several times and this was by far the worse. I didn’t see anyone else toss any coins, though, so I’m sure it won’t be so crowded when I go back. Amateurs!
      Great story of your Florentine holiday! Yes, you may have dragged them around but they saw things that they’ll never forget. And you did meet some … um … interesting people — well, one at least. I bet it was a bit unsettling, at first. I wouldn’t have known what to think. You know. He could still appear at your door, asking for a favor that you cannot refuse. 😀
      I’m glad you enjoyed the post, Tanya. Have a great weekend.

      Like

    • Oh, Caroline. I cannot state strongly enough that you should get over there. You will be amazed. It is one of the few places on earth that not only lives up to the hype but far surpasses it. Incredible!

      Like

  26. You’ll be back in Rome after you donation to the Trevi Fountain, I’m sure. Your Spaghetti alla Chitarra all’Amatriciana looks authentic to me, and delicious. It’s a funny thing about holiday souvenirs – when in Broome I bought what I refer to as my Broome pearl earrings, but the devil is in the detail… the earrings were designed and crafted in Broome from South Sea Pearls; Broome pearls being WAY out of my price range 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, EllaDee. I’m certain I’ll be back in Rome. Maybe I’ll see you there. 🙂
      I purchase souvenirs to remind me of where I’ve been. My chitarra will remind me of Rome, that dinner and my going shopping at housewares shops, just as your earrings will remind you of Broome. It’s not necessary to remember all of the details. 😉

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  27. Thanks for the lesson on Chitarra, learnt something new today.
    Thanks also for taking me along on your tour, those stainglasses are magnificent. If only I could spend a year in Italy to learn about the culture, history and the food. Especially the food, I would probably return to the USA looking like the Good Year blimp.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Norma. That’s the dream. To spend a year in Italy. How I would love to do that! Instead, I’ll go for a couple weeks whenever I can.I hope you one day manage to get there for a holiday. You’ll have a wonderful, to be sure. 🙂

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  28. Hello John! Since you seem to be a huge … amatriciana fan 🙂 , let me pass you on a little piece of information that maybe you don’t know. One of the key ingredients is a grated pecorino cheese from Amatrice itself, which must not be confused with Roman pecorino cheese as the flavor of the former is much more delicate than the latter’s. That’s why some experts say that the suggested substitute is Parmigiano cheese because the strong flavor of Roman Pecorino would alter the taste of the sauce … although I know as a fact that a lot of Romans (including my friends and my mother) use the Roman Pecorino.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello, Francesca. Thanks for the information. I had heard of that cheese but cannot remember where. Perhaps one of the Italian chefs I watch on TV? My family rarely used Parmigiano in their cooking. It was always Pecorino Romano. I’ve done the same, trying to keep the cooking tradition alive. My Zia in San Marino, though, used Parmigiano. In fact, one supper she brought to the table a very large section of a Parmigiano wheel on a large cutting board. My cousin’s husband served each of us a piece of it after dinner. I felt as if I’d gotten a glimpse of heaven. 🙂

      Like

  29. What a lovely post, John. Just as I have made you want to pack up and go to New York, you have made me want to head straight to the airport for a flight to Florence. I would love visiting all those stunning cathedrals. I just can’t imagine how they were built without today’s technology (and we think we’re so clever!) I would love to visit the tomb of Michelangelo – I studied his art for quite a few years at school, as I did a lot of other Italian masters. Your pasta dish is one of my favourites – I often make it but not with your authenticity – I must work on being more of an Italian-mama! xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Charlie. Those cathedrals are so impressive and to see so many in one city is truly remarkable. But you cannot forget the museums. That little city has such a wealth of art. It is easy to see how first time visitors can run themselves ragged trying to see everything. The truth is, they can’t, not if they want to truly appreciate what they’re seeing. I’m sure that you make a great dish of Amatriciana, as well as many other Italian dishes. Authenticity isn’t nearly as important as taste. Judging by you the recipes you’ve posted, I don’t think you’ve anything to worry about. 🙂

      Like

    • They say the secret to happiness in life is to find one’s passion. Mine just so happens to be pasta, both making and eating it. 🙂
      Thanks and I’m glad you enjoyed the post.

      Like

  30. What a neat-o pasta-making machine. It’s quite fascinating, really… I think I need one, too.

    As for the pasta, it’s 6:04 am where I am and I am CRAVING this dish! Yes, for breakfast!

    I love the photo of the horse-drawn carriage. Those horses are so beautiful!

    Like

    • I think I may have started a run on chitarra machines here in the States. Buy ’em now before the price goes up! It does make a great pasta, though, and quite easily, too. I’m kinda obsessed with it and have been making a lot of pasta lately. There were many horse drawn carriages working the tourists in Florence but this was the first team that I saw. Come to think of it, that was the only team I saw and only on that day. Wonder if they had something special to do or someone special to carry. Hmmm… I’ll have to go back and ask around. 🙂

      Like

  31. What a fabulous time you had! I’m so happy for you! And you made me laugh out loud at your Amatriciana recipe – I don’t know if you remember the post I wrote about Italian nonnas a few years back, but I sat in the cheese shop and listened to them arguing about exactly the same thing – whether the dish had onions in it or not. 🙂 I made it with onions, but now I’m going to try your way without them! And darn it, now I want a chitarra too! 🙂

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    • Oh, Celia. We did have a fabulous time! I do remember the nonnas arguing but I didn’t remember that it was about onions in the Amartriciana. Well, our waiter was definitely on the side of no onions. Still, I’ve made it with onions before and the Pasta Police have yet to show up at my door. 🙂
      Too bad the postage would make this an impossibility because you sure would love having one. It’s actually fun to use and far quicker than one might think. And the bottom line is that it makes a good dish of pasta. Best if all, it may not have come from Rome but I sure will think of the Eternal City whenever I use it. 🙂

      Like

  32. I’m so impressed John! Not only are you a master at pasta but you even know how to play the Chitarra! Why the next time someone pulls out and accordion you can do a duet. Those are wonderful photos of Florence and the expertise of the photographers can never do that city justice. When my daughter studied in Florence, her apartment was at the end of the Pontes Vecchio across from the Medici Palace. The gardens and view were magnificent.
    I think I like the looks your spaghetti better than what you had at the restaurant. Beautiful looking dish and so simple.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, Diane. Look for me and my chitarra on YouTube.
      How I envy your daughter! While in Florence, the 3 of us imagined how wonderful it would be to live there and see the sites on our way to-and-from work or class. Now that would be a most fantastic commute. Your daughter lived the dream. Good for her. I hope you had the chance to visit her – a few times. 🙂

      Like

  33. very nice! And I’ll be waiting on that gelato 🙂 Thanks for sharing your experiences and photos. With young kids at home, I only travel though blogs 😉

    Like

    • Thank you so much, Liz. Don’t worry. The gelato will be here before you know it and Florence isn’t going anywhere. In fact, everything will be even older when you see it. 🙂

      Like

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  35. Three times lucky? Yes, I’m having a dreadful time commenting on my iPhone on the crappy 3G network at the cottage. My first two attempts disappeared into the universe, never to be seen again! Hopefully John from another dimension is enjoying them!
    Your souvenir is much like my souvenirs; twice I dragged cast iron home, once from Paris, a crêpe pan, and another from Illinois, a pizza pan!
    Your pics of Florence bring back fond memories; we were there in 91. We drove from Zurich (we were staying with friends) and after an hour of trying to get to our hotel (one-way streets, the wrong way), we had to hire a cab and follow him. He drove down one way streets the wrong way to get there! That was our mistake!
    Our hotel was in the square of Santa Maria Novella, our room faced the square. We were perplexed because our enormous windows had ‘garage door’ shutters. Metal doors that were lowered by a motor. At 3am, the revellers emerged and we were no longer perplexed. Down came the doors and we were transported to the ‘cone of silence’. That $300 a night room (JTs company paid) gave me lice bites on my arms and legs!
    It was in Florence that I realized my four years of studying art history at university; there is nothing like the real thing! We waited an hour in queue to see David. It was also the first time we used a bank machine abroad and got local currency!
    It was also that trip that introduced us to balsamic vinegar! JTs company bought equipment in Modena that we inspected. The family that made the machine took us to a local restaurant where we ate, quite possibly, the best steak ever! Marinated in 100 year old balsamic! The English speaking sales rep then took it upon himself to drive an hour out of his way to buy me my first bottle of 45 year old balsamic!
    Thank you again dear friend, for bringing back such fond memories.
    Your new pasta maker has already become such a useful instrument in your kitchen, it really makes beautiful pasta. And I too agree that your version is lovelier than the one from Rome.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re such a good friend, Eva, to continue to try to post after the universe ate your first 2 attempts.
      It sounds like your trip to Florence was indeed wonderful. You left with some wonderful memories and a fantastic bottle of Balsamic. I’ve been there 6 times now and each time I’m more impressed than previously. I can see how it could be overwhelming for someone with your art history education. I often wonder what it would be like to live in Florence, to walk those streets as my commute to work. Talk about living the dream!
      We didn’t see David this trip. The lines were far, far longer than we’ve ever seen and none of us felt like waiting. That’s the nice part of returning to Florence. There’s no pressure to see things that you’ve already had the pleasure of viewing.
      I really do love that chitarra. I use it more than I care to admit and cannot wait to bring it To Zia next week. She’ll get a kick out of it — and silently consider it a waste of money. 🙂
      I’m glad you were persistent, Eva, Yours was a lovely comment. Thank you.

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  36. Did you bring extra chitarras with you? Sounds like something I would like to learn how to use. After all the excitement of owning a chitarra has died down, I probably would stash it away in a corner and forget about it. Next time you’re in Rome, buy the first few pieces you see. No need saying you’ll go back then time runs out and you come back empty handed. Good to know it’s available online and you finally got one. The Spaghetti alla Chitarra all’Amatriciana looks good (I can’t pronounce it). I’m glad it has only three ingredients. Thanks for sharing!

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    • Liz, you would easily learn how to use a chitarra. It’s a breeze and the pasta is perfectly formed. You’re right, too, about shopping on holiday. Although I was very lucky the way things turned out, that’s not the case most times and I’d be without a chitarra. Better to buy it when first seen. You can, also,easily make this dish. It’s an old recipe and you can tell because it has so few ingredients. It sure is tasty, though. You’ll see. 🙂

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  37. Bonjourno John! I don’t know if I like the recipe or the trip back to your homeland better. I know that your trip back home has really inspired you with some new and traditional dishes and that is a very good thing. Your chitarra is quite the instrument and pasta maker. I love the passion you feel when you make your own from scratch. Thank you for taking me back to Florence with your beautiful photos. I was there a couple of years ago and it made me feel like it was just yesterday. Just the museums alone can be just overwhelming the amount of culture in a one mile radius. You know the one thing that my husband and I found amazing is the stationary stores with the old fashion wax and stamps. Of course we brought these little items home as a souvenir along with about 5 extra kg’s from all the eating we enjoyed. Take care, BAM

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    • Buongiorno, BAM! Yes, that trip was inspiring, on so many levels. Having been there so recently, you know how wonderful that city really is.
      I ate pasta of every type and description. Never turned down a gelato. Snacked on cheese every afternoon with a glass of wine. Yet, incredibly, I actually lost a few pounds!!! One of my friends did, too, and neither of us can figure out how that could possibly have happened. If we weren’t in a church or museum, we were eating and that’s no exaggeration. I think it has to do with Florentine water. I just may have to go back to test my theory. 🙂
      You went to stationary shops, I toured the markets looking at pasta. It never ceases to amaze me the many types of pasta and filling for ravioli that are available. I wish I could bring them back with me but, then again, they’d all look like orzo by the time the baggage handlers had their way with my luggage. 🙂

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      • I think it must be all the walking that kept you slim. Think about it you walked everywhere. In Chicago, maybe you walk to the city transport but not as much as in Italy. Or it could be all of those limencellos that are slimming… LOL I brought my allotment of porcino mushrooms, pasta, olive oil, balsamic vinegar and anything else I could smuggle back into Hong Kong. I think the customs officers just said to themselves, oh my goodness.. I am just tickled pink that you were able to go home for a visit. I am grinning ear to ear.. Missed you.

        Liked by 1 person

        • The funny thing, though, BAM, is that before the trip, I bought a couple pairs of pants and shorts. This time, for the first time in my life, I actually bought them a bit large and didn’t delude myself into believing I’d be losing weight before the trip. In fact, I knew I’d gain weight and I wasn’t about to buy pants that wouldn’t fit me. The result: I’ve now got pants and shorts that are too big for me to wear. I know it’s a good thing but still …
          🙂

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  38. John, I am not getting notifications of new posts from you, and that made me super unhappy…. Anyway, I downloaded a rss reader to my Mac, and subscribed using it. Let’s see if now it works

    loved this post, I’ve seen chitarras for sale in Italy when I visited years ago, but resisted the urge to stick one in my luggage…. a cool gadget, though, and it does make a pasta with more bite and perfect texture

    great to read about your adventures, as usual!

    Like

    • So sorry, Sally, that you’re still having problems. I’m still not getting a few, too. I’ve joined Bloglovin and try to keep track of them that way. If and when WP gets its act together, I’ll drop Bloglovin but, for now, it’s more reliable.
      Thanks for the kind words. I’m loving this chitarra more every time I use it — which is so often as to border on embarrassing. 🙂 If you’re still interested in a chitarra, Sally, I can send you the name of the company that sold me mine. I’ve bought quite a few pieces of pasta making equipment from them. Never had a problem.

      Like

  39. That’s a beautiful and an informative post John. The world has so many hidden gems. Never heard of chittara before, but makes so much sense for something like that to exist. Amazing!

    I am in love with the pictures. You have made them come alive by your descriptions. Thoroughly enjoyed reading all of it 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Minnie. I’m so glad you enjoyed the post and my little tour. Florence is one spot where there are photos to be taken no matter which way you turn. I’m still sorting through them all. There are worse ways to spend time. 🙂

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  40. I’m not sure which pictures have me longing more – the spaghetti or the scenery. Equally wonderful I should think. You have inspired me to get my pasta maker out again. It’s been far too long!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Kristy. I’m sure you all will be in Florence before you know it but that may take some time. Getting out the pasta machine, however, is a far easier goal to achieve. 🙂

      Like

  41. I can’t even tell you how much this post makes me long for Italy. This dish in all it’s simplicity would highlight the freshest of pasta and tomatoes. I love your newest “musical” instrument, as I think the strings would make any heart sing upon hearing them strummed while making pasta:D

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  42. I’m with Barbara, above–you’ve evoked a longing to be back that is nigh unbearable. Great descriptions, photos and accounts of things to eat. Last week’s salvia fritti and this week’s spaghetti alla chitarra were just great. Both are on my list. Congratulations on your chitarra–it’s the most magnificent one I’ve ever seen. I know several chefs who own chitarras, but theirs are smaller, all-wooden affairs that appear considerably less sturdy than yours–although I have tasted some good pasta from them. When I first saw the picture of yours I thought I was looking at a zither! Anyway, excellent post. I’m glad you’re having such a wonderful time. Ken

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  43. Pingback: Two Dishes Cooked alla Gricia | from the Bartolini kitchens

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