Asparagus & artichokes pasta – Italian Spring is served!

recipe spring asparagus and artichokes

Who said that to conquer a girls’ heart you need flowers?!

You could make a great impression just with an asparagus and artchokes’ bouquet! Ok…add pasta & one sausage (if you are not vegetarian!) for a perfect result 🙂

artichokes and asparagus short pasta recipe

This is a very easy and tasty Spring recipe with two vegetables we simply adore and you can easily find in this period of the year. We choose a very big pasta shape called “ceppi” from Regina dei Sibillini, but you can also use other short shapes of pasta such as penne or mezze maniche.

Ingredients for 4/5 people:

500 gr of short pasta (moccolotti, penne, mezze maniche, fusilli), 4 artichokes, 2 sprigs of asparagus, 1 pork sausage, cloves of garlic, extravirgin olive oil, white wine, salt, 2 slices of lemon, parsley.


Start cleaning artchokes:

artichokes and asparagus pasta recipe

Put the artichokes in a pot with olive oil, garlic and crumbled parsley. Cover everything with white wine and let them cook till the wine is completely consumed.

pasta recipe le marche italy

Usually it takes forty five minutes, but check the artichokes: they should be tender enough. Otherwise add other wine and keep cooking!

While artichokes are cooking, it’s asparagus cleaning turn! Wash them, cut the upper part and, if they are tender enough, take also the first part of the stem making tiny pieces.

asparagus pasta recipe italy

Put asparagus in a nonstick pan with extra virgin olive oil, garlic and a little bit of water. Let them cook for twenty minutes.

Add one smashed sausage and when it is cooked, transfer in the same pan also the artichokes. Put salt as needed and blend everything adding olive oil.

artichokes and asparagus pasta italian recipe le marche

Now that the sauce is done, bung the pasta in boiling salted water. When is ready, drain it and pass it in the pan with the sauce. Melt it for two minutes at low flame for a tastier result!


Now let’s see if this unconventional Spring bouquet brings the expected reaction on your guest!

Buon Appetito! °v°

Under the snow…bread! – Story of a very special kind of pasta

Our elders used to say “Under the snow, bread…under the rain, hunger”.

montefortino pasta regina dei sibillini marche

It is one of my favourite proverbs, of a girl born and raised at 10 minutes from the shore but with mountains in her heart!

Today’s fairy tale (because it is so full of poetry and beauty and love for our homeland that it actually seems a happy ending tale!) starts from this ancient moral. Which is full of truth by the way, as only old stories’ moral could be and it is full of the wisdom of our ancestors, that never left this harsh area on Sibillini’s slopes: the village of Montefortino (Fermo province).

montefortino sibillini monte priora  marche

This harshness and this mountains’ loneliness scared young generations, but those who stayed and kept fighting for the beauty and the autenticity of these places only got back amazing gifts from these stones.

montefortino fermo le marche

That’s the story of Regina dei Sibillini: a pasta manufacturing, who cultivates durum wheat in fields on arduous cliffs, perserved by a  snow-white-icy mantle. The snow that falls between November and March covers the harvest, hydrates it and protects it from freezing (that’s why snow is better than rain!).

montefortino monte priora sibillini

Regina dei Sibillini is the surname locals gave to Priora Mountain, which stands above all Sibillini peaks when you look from Montefortino side. As mountain is the heart and the start of this tasty idea, it’s easily explained why black is the logo’s colour.

For me it is already a luck to wake up everyday with such a view (…and I admit I would just stare the panorama the whole time!). That’s why I completely understand Regina dei Sibillini owners’ choice to stay in this territory and to do something for preserving its rural economy.

Moreover, the fact that my pasta dish could breathe this air and enjoy this landscapes makes me feel more relaxed! (Ehi! It is important that my spaghetti arrive trim on my table! Within the good and the beauty of these mountains!).

montefortino sibillini pasta regina dei sibillini

All kinds of pasta, which are of course respecting classical shapes (simple & tasty & with no frills!), are made according to an handcraft process, drawned in bronze then put to dry at low temperatures.

pasta shapes regina dei sibillini montefortino
If you want to enjoy a plate of traditional pasta with us… make sure you’ll be here for our next recipe! °v°

Misfortunes of a country during Napoleonic age

Thefts, art, miracles, battles… it seems that the Napoleaonic age in this slice of Italy has left quite an interesting legacy, in good and bad ways! From 1796 to 1813, when Tolentino Battle ended French power in Le Marche, Napoleon and his family set their residence in this region bringing French policy: personalities with civil merits or political roles acquired noble entitlements and started build neoclassical villas.

napoleon in macerata and ancona province

Our Napoleonic itinerary starts in Macerata province, at that time known as Musone Department, moving from Tolentino battlefield to the white neoclassical interioris of Villa Valcampana (Treia).

valcampana napoleon villa treia macerata

The same columns are protagonist on the facade of Villa Tuscolano in Appignano.

napoleonic villa le marche appignanno

Its jewel is the “esedra garden” (or “ninfeo”), ruined by now but keeping its poetry untouched.

villa tuscolano appignano le marche italy

You can almost hear guests’ laughs or the phantom of the owner Leopoldo Armaroli who whished to be buried in this peaceful place (even though he couldn’t because of Napoleonic Saint Cloud edict). Other stories and legends sourrounds this bucolic villa.

villa tuscolano appignano macerata

On the coast we find Villa Eugenia, Luigi Bonaparte’s property, while Napoleon  slept in Palazzo Torri (Macerata), famous for his semi cycle overlooking the facade, used as carriages’ depot.

The dark side of the story, behind the construction of these architectural masterpieces, is that, withTolentino Agreement, the French troops started the (usual) Church’s artworks spoliation stealing Black Virgin Mary in Loreto cathedral: the holy statue was returned from Louvre after an agreement with Pope Pio VII.

Even more curious is the story of another religious artwork, given back for superstition: the painting of Virgin Mary “queen of all Saints” you can appreciate on the left side of S. Ciriaco Cathedral (Ancona).

all saint virgin mary san ciriaco ancona

It is known that the painted Virgin has opened her eyes in front of some witnesses and the Bishop himself. Curious Napoleon, before burning it, wanted to see the painting but at the sight of the Virgin he turned pale and ordered to his soldiers to cover it with a drape and return it to the Cathedral with all its gold and jewels.

Aren’t you starving after the long walk?!

That’s why we left at the end of our itinerary Portonovo Napoleonic Fort.

Inside Conero natural park, set on a natural bay surrounded by green woods and crystal clear water, the French Captain decided to build this white fort using stones taken from a nearby Benedictine Monastery to prevent the landing of English fleet ships looking for protection in the bay. What it has to do with food? Nowaday the Napoleonic Fort is a renowned fish restaurant! We don’t know if Napoleon liked eating fish…but with such a view from the embrasure we are sure you will! °v°

museum palazzo bezzi tolentino napoleon

Crescia bread with lard and wild herbs – Le Marche in appetizers


We made a spring wild herbs’ picking up tour with granny Elda, and as we know that a perfect trip always deserves a likewise amazing lunch, we introduce ourselves in pic-nic’s official season preparing this traditional Le Marche appetizer or finger food or salty snack…actually it is so quick and tasty, you can adapt it to a pic nic, an aperitivo or as a starter.

Of course wild herbs are protagonists 🙂

wild herbs crescia from le marche

Ingredients (for 6 people)

For the dough:

1 kg flour, 50 g brewer’s yeast, 2 pinches of salt, 1 glass of olive oil, water as needed for kneading.

For the filling:

Mixed wild herbs (see how to pick them up!) or spinach, 1 pork sausage, chili pepper, cloves of garlic (as much as you like it!), pig lard.


Start cleaning wild herbs: cut the lower part of the trunk (the one usually stick to the ground), discard ruined leaves and wash everything in cold water. Let them dry.

In the meanwhile start preparing the dough: arrange the flour on the wooden table making a mountain shape. Make a hole on the top of your flour-mountain (creating a volcano!). Put in the hole salt and olive oil. Add brewer’s yeast melted in a glass of warm water. Knead all the ingredients adding water as necessary.

crescia recipe flat bread

Wrap up the dough in a rag and let it rest and rise for an hour. Divide it in parts: the size depends on how you want your crescia to be big, but not bigger than a regular pizza. Now spread out each one making a round shape. You can help yourselves using the rolling pin.

crescia recipe le marche

Be careful: crescia dough must stay high! At least higher than a pizza! Because it is more similar to a focaccia bread and it is more traditional. Put the cresce on a griddle and bite them with a fork on  the surface. Turn them frequently. When they turn golden they are ready!

You can cook them “at-the-moment” or even prepare them before and serve cold.

For the filling, start boiling wild herbs in hot salted water. In the meanwhile, put the garlic’s cloves in a non-stick pan and sautĂŠ them with olive oil. In another pan cook the sausage. It is better if you squashed the sausage with a little bit of water before cooking it. Now dry the boiled herbs, cut them a little bit, put them in the pan with the garlic and “drag” them in the pan with the sausage and chili pepper till they become tasty!

strascinare le marche typical recipe

Now take one crescia and rub the lard on the surface. It will melt a little bit. Now end putting over the herbs with the sausage (“erbe strascinate”). Buon Appetito 🙂

crescia and wild herbs le marche recipe

Let’s explore some more options & have fun creating a Crescia-bar to surprise your guests:

crescia bar le marche

“Sweet Lamb” Easter cake – cooking “Agnelletto” Macerata’s way!

ingredients easter lamb macerata

If you are an animal lover (or just a cake lover!)

If you are looking for a traditional Easter’s dessert (or just for a dessert!)

this “Sweet lamb” cake, known in central Italy as “Agnelletto”, is the perfect end for a spring lunch or the best (and funniest) alternative to lamb meat 🙂 (it’s sweet and it doesn’t hurt anyone!).

filling agnelletto le marche

We checked the recipe in our master-chef-book: Tina’s! You already met her during our Limoncini cooking-session. There are several versions of “sweet lamb”, here we present the one made in a town in Macerata hills, Loro Piceno. Such a tiny village that you can’t keep a secret…that’s the reason why they all cook Agnelletto almost the same way!

The recipe is not difficult, you only need tons (really tons!) of ingredients and a little bit of creativity for making the lamb shape (or you can ask uncle Google and download it! Here’s one.).

le marche agnelletto receipe


For the dough:

400 g flour, 150 g butter, 1 egg, 2 yolks, 150 g sugar

For the filling:

100 g amaretti (or other almond biscuits), 200 g almonds, 2 yolks, 150 g sugar, 100 g candied fruit*, 100 g dark chocolate,  100 g raisins*, 2 cups of coffee, 2/3 little spoons of rhum, 1 lemon peel, vanilla extract, 2/3 little spoons of cinnamon.

*if you do not like them or you can’t find them, you can choose not to put them and add more almonds or chocolate.

For the icing:

2 eggs’ whites, 200 g powdered sugar, a pinch of salt.


We start from the dough: knead flour and warm (not melted) butter, then add the egg, 2 yolks and sugar. Knead till it becomes homogeneous and let it rest while you prepare the filling.

dough traditional agnelletto treia

Take a big bowl and put inside crunched amaretti (or almond biscuits), minced almonds, minced dark chocolate, candied fruit, raisin, sugar, 2 yolks, coffee, 2/3 little spoons of rhum, the vanilla extract, 2/3 little spoons of cinnamon and lemon peel. Mix them all using a fork or by hands.

filling of sweet lamb treia macerata

Now take a piece of wax paper and draw (or trace) the lamb shape with a pencil.

Divide the dough it in two parts, take one and roll it up. It should cover the paper lamb’s shape entirely. Now take your paper lamb’s shape, put it over the kneaded dough, and start tracing the lamb’s border with a knife (BE CAREFUL: this passage is just to impress the lamb shape on the dough, so use the part of the knife that does not cut! Try to make a little scar on the dough).

Now that you have a guide line on the dough you can definitely cut it following the guide (now use the knife’s blade 🙂 ). We used a pizza cutter instead of a knife, so if you find yourself more comfortable with it you can do the same.

lamb shape traditional receip treia

Take the remaining part of the dough and do the same: this time cut the shape at least 3 cm bigger than the border you drawn because we need a bigger shape to close the filling between the 2 lambs’ shapes.

Start spreading the filling on the smaller dough’s shape keeping the filling 1 cm away from the borders. When it’s done, put over it the remaining bigger shape and close the borders by pressing carefully with fingers.

filling the dough le marche food

If at this stage you break the dough shape by accident or because it was too thin (that’s our case 🙂 ) just take a little bit of dough from the leftovers you cutted and stich it carefully on the holes.

Take one raisin or a chocolate flake to make the lamb’s eye and put everything in the owen at 175° for half an hour (however, check it and take it out from the owen when it gets a golden surface).

Now prepare the icing beating two eggs’ whites with sugar and a pinch of salt.

When the sweet lamb has cooled down, cover it with this white icing and have fun decorating it as you like! Wait till the glassa dries.

PS: if you do not like icing, you can cover the lamb with powdered sugar too.

agnelletto le marche treia

Easter dessert is ready! Yummy! °v°

Getting serious in spontaneous herbs picking! – A picking-tour through Le Marche fields

le marche spring

Seems that finally first bursts of spring are making their way in our Italian middle-earth!

We are winter-addicted but beside snow, it’s a fact that colors and warm breezes always melt the heart! Plus: it’s the perfect season for Picus expeditions! First stop: an outing to Le Marche countryside looking for spontaneous herbs!

grass le marche italian herbs

As grass picking is a serious thing around here, whose secrets and habits has been passed on generations, we called an expert! Meet Elda: 80-something years old & super sprint granny raised up during the Second World War in San Paterniano (Ancona), when grass picking did not mean just fun and health but was sometimes the only remedy against poverty. ”Especially in a country family with 5 daughters” she pointed out.

italian grandma picking herbs

So we have the expert but we actually do not know where to start!

Unless you do not have a favourite secret field, the first step is wandering and wandering looking for an abandoned or uncultivated field, perfect environment for spontaneous grasses’ growth (also because there are no pesticides).

Otherwise, you can take advantage for next year buying some seeds and spreading them in your field or garden….next year you will have an amazing & natural harvest! As this plants are spontaneous you do not even need to cultivate them, just sow the seeds accidentally and leave some of plants flowering, that’s all!

Of course for us the field’s quest is part of the fun! Along with the straw hat 🙂

pick herbs up le marche italy

Consider that not in all fields you can find the same herbs: there are some kinds we did not find in our picking-tour as for example the borage or “Borragine” (but this is just a great excuse for making a second round! 🙂 )

So here is what we had in our baskets at the end of the day and a brief guide on how-to-recognize these wild herbs:

spontaneous herbs le marche italy

Elda also gave us her mother’s favourite recipe with these spontaneous plants…so make sure you’ll be here for our next cooking-post! °v°

St Patrick’s Day in San Germano … drinking beer of course!

There is a festival we really really adore and we would like to borrow from a beautiful green country: Ireland! As it’s almost St Patrick’s Day we are getting ready to celebrate it properly! And “Properly” means of course with a huge tankard of beer 🙂

Our Irish friends are beer masters of long experience (there’s no match!), but we think they will forgive us if along with a Guinness stein this year we drink also an agricultural beer born at the shadow of green Monte Conero (in the end, nobody better than the Irish understand patriotism!).

san germano camerano monte conero

And how could be possibly called a brewery located in the village of San Germano (Camerano, AN) if not SAN GERMANO 18?

beer factory italy camerano

The brewer, started for fun, driven by passion and willing to create an authentic product made with at least 51% ingredients produced by himself: that’s why San Germano 18 is an “agricultural beer” and not a simple artisan one! The plus is that the malt is cultivated here, in a field in front of the brewery, breathing the marine breeze and turning golden under Le Marche sun.

camerano le marche italy

It really is fascinating for beer lovers and even newbies to see the brewery at work: I never realized the job of research and patience there could be behind my beer mug!

In the end what does it take? Grow the malt, toast it, find the right hops to preserve a certain  bitter, crush malt with water to obtain must, filter a first time, boil it, then second filtering to remove impurities, add yeast for the sparkling effect, last filtering to avoid yeast’s leftovers, bottle up,put the stoppers, now wait 2 months to let the beer referment in the bottle…breathe and finally taste it!

brewery agricultural beer camerano italy

Bur here the funniest part (besides drinking!), are the stories each beer has to tell!


What a pre-roman goddess, procuress of freshwater springs, has to do with beer? Nothing if not considering that water is the main ingredient of all beers! “La Giana” is part of the tradition of this area and almost each village has a spring dedicated to her. Camerano is no exception!

agricultural beer camerano san germano


Hoopoe (Upupa) is a beer full of mystic reminders to past centuries: the Druids used to ferment their beverages with honey to see the future (and with that high alcohol strengh they surely succeeded!). The Hoopoe, as the Celts, always wanders into the woods looking for food while the Druids were always seeking natural ingredients for their potions. Hoopoe is also the name of the farm who gives to San Germano 18 the honey for this recipe…so there was no better name for this blonde!

sangermano18 camerano le marche beer


Who’s afraid of bogeyman? Known by Camerano’s kids as Bubò?! In traditional legends it represents darkness and man’s fears…so, there is no better way to dispel them than a mug of beer! Guinness addicted will love this dark stout with strong scents of coffee and liquorice.

Of course this is just a small taste (anyway is still 10 am!)…but you should try all 9 tipes before choosing! And if you want to know more stories we are here to help your curiosity 🙂

sangermano18 tipical italian beer

Round of drinks for all & happy St Patrick’s Day! °v°

The Philippus code – Templar Chronicles in central Italy

ancona le marche art gothic church

What are we gonna do at The Picus Post on a lazy morning?

Easy answer! Catch the camera, a take-away breakfast and start following a trail through past centuries and misterious codes looking for symbols left by a XII century Master, architect from Alchemy school: Philippus.

(Very Indiana Jones style but with less action and no Harrison Ford!)

His work joins two churches, at 20 km of distance from one another, both standing white in the morning sun, showing their pallor to inattentive wanderers. The adventure starts from a walk in front of the church of Santa Maria della Piazza.

ancona santa maria della piazza facade

Ancona’s port is behind the corner and a secondary quite and close road hosts this delicate bonbonniere, born on the site of two previous Paleo-Christian churches. Of the beauty of the original building, remains today only the lower part. Through the white marble walls, divided in three orders of blind arches, a sharp look could distinguishes the emblem of the Medieval corporation of sculptors and gouges affiliated to the Templars,from which Philippus comes from: Enfants du Maitre Jacques.

ancona door santa maria church

He designs the whole facade using misterious low reliefs of war, abundance and fertility: a symbolism ascribable to Tempalrs that testify the will of the order to sign this holy place.

ancona le marche gothic

Misterious meanings get deeper in the gothic Cathedral of S. Leopardo and S. Tecla.

central italy town osimo cathedral templar

We are in Osimo now. The same shimmering white, the same Master who signed his work on an incision inside the crypt where are kept relics of the martyrs of Osimo. The crypt is made with 16 different columns taken from previous catholic and pagan buildings.

crypt gothic osimo italy

Also in the white facade of this church, Philippus left a sort of coded message made of symbols and characters which even nowadays raises unresolved questions.

Templars believed the architect could create “alive buildings” to connect people with God, and this church is actually a summary of Alchemy and Numerology.

It is unique to find on a Church’s front door two long snakes with spiral tales which remember the Uro buro snake, symbol of the access to the infinite.

osimo templar uro buro snake

Singular are also the alchemic figures on the rose window: a sirene and other fantastic animals that hide an incomprehensible message behind their grotesque looks.

art italy town osimo cathedral window

osimo le marche cathedral

Instead the chest of King Salomon holding a vase on the front door’s arch is a clear remind to the Master’s corporation.

italian art osimo le marche

Less obscure meanings have other characters such as S. Peter with keys, the low reliefs showing the Apostles and the Virgin Mary or the Baptist with two prophets.

osimo cathedral low reliefs

So, when distractedly wandering in front of these bright facades be aware of the suspicious looks of these strange figures who are going to keep their Master’s secrets for a long time!

(Now you should clearly hear the Raiders’ March 😉 ) °v°

The fairies path

On one side of mount Vettore there is a distinctive pebbly cross strip known as “the fairies path”.

Illustration from Eiko Ojala, Vertical landscape

A long time ago, the magical Sibilla enchantress was living in hidden caverns on the peaks of Sibillini range. An inaccesible  shelter to humans, surrounded by snow and woods.

She had magical fairies at her service, whose bodies was turned by the enchantres’ jealuosy in half sheeps.

Nobody knows of their existance, and they were keeping the secret, scared that humans could come and steal their magic. One dark night, with no moon and not even a little star in the sky, intrigued from a joyful music coming from Pretare village, they decided to climb down the mountain, protected by the darkness. As shadows they enter the tiny alleys, following music and laughs, curious to see the people living at the slopes of the mountain.

The village was celebrating the end of winter and everywhere people were dancing around the bonfire. Amused by the cheerful rithm, mixing up with the crowd, the fairies start to dance too till dawn comes.

When the first ray of sunlight arises from the peaks, for the little fairies  it was already too late to escape without been noticed! Trying not to be surprised by the people, they run up the mountain so fast that left their footsteps behind creating a path till their shelter.

Nobody has never seen a fairy in Pretare from that night, except, in some dark nights, when the village is celebrating around the bonfire, someone swear you could see some shadows in obscure corners.

Even today hiking through the pebbly cross strip, if you are lucky, maybe you can find the misterious fairies’ shelter!


COOKING grand-MAMA Limoncini

limoncini ingredients le marche

Yes, maybe this Le Marche recipe about traditional Carnival pastries called “Limoncini” could be a challenge level for cooking beginners … but we are talking about my favourite Carnival cakes, so they deserve at least a try 🙂

Yes, I also admit that most part of these pretty Limoncini did not survive the afternoon…(malefic laugh!)

And yes, cooking with a perfectionist-burners-queen as my grandmother, Tina (whose hands you see in photos)  make me earn a 1000 points’ bonus … that I lost when I almost forgot to add  butter! No panic: I discovered you can successfully incorporare it with a little hint of flour also at the end of the dough.

But, you know what? I completed the level and the result was fantastic 🙂

This oranges and lemons pastries (“Limoncini” comes from “lemon”) are fried in the traditional recipe, but I prefer them baked. The recipe and process stay the same so…try both ways and choose your favourite cooking!

limonciniIngredients: 2 eggs, approximately 600 gr flour (the precise quantity depends on dough’s consistance, it must stay soft), 50 gr brewer’s yeast, 50 gr butter, 1 glass of milk, 1 spoon of sugar.

for the filling: approximately 150 gr sugar (as much as you like the pastries to be sweet, but enough to cover the rolled dough), 2 oranges, 1 lemon (if you prefer lemons you can use 2 lemons and 1 orange, or no lemon at all…it’s up to you!)



Start melting butter for a few minutes at low flame. In the meanwhile, warm up the milk (it has to be lukewarm not too hot) and then add the yeast in order to melt it.

flour limoncini

In a bowl beat the eggs with a fork, and then add sugar, the glass with milk and yeast, and the melted butter too.

Keep beating and then start adding flour a bit at a time.

As you keep putting flour, the dough becomes more dense and when it’s solid enough, you can start knead it on a wooden board.

grandma works

From now on, be careful when adding flour, because the dough should remain as soft as possible to have fluffy limoncini 🙂 especially if you decide to bake them.

grandma tips recipe

When you (finally!) have a soft and uniform dough, leave it on the board for 10 minutes: it needs to rest and rise! Shhhhh!

limoncini le marche

limoncini traditional cake

In the meanwhile you can start preparing the filling by mixing  with a fork sugar, grated orange and lemon peel.

Cover with paper two baking trays and start the oven at approximately 170°.

Now you are ready to knead the dough! Put a hint of flour on the board, take your rolling pin and divide the mass in 2 parts.

tina making macerata limoncini

limoncini from le marche

Knead 2 rectangular shapes, then start spread the filling homogeneously but leaving 1 cm from external borders.

Now it’s time to roll them up starting from the longer side (at this stage if you haven’t put flour before kneading, it could be all sticked on the board!).

Remember to press the roll a little bit and close carefully the final part by sticking the dough or the tiny rolls may open while cooking!

tina and limoncini macerata

Now you just need to cut the tiny rolls: if the dough is soft, every 2 or 3 cuts immerse the knife into the flour so it will not stick on the dough. Put them on the baking tray and then straight into the oven for 15 minutes till they become golden (not too much otherwise they will be hard after cooling down).

limoncini from macerata

Happy Carnival from Le Marche by grandma Tina & thepicuspost °v°

limoncini le marche receipe