Anne's Blog

Near Perugia, Pila’s Picantissimo  Cuisine

Date: July 23, 2017 - categories: , , , , - 1 Comment

Many scholars maintain that the late Etruscan life-sized bronze sculptural masterpiece, “the Orator” (now in the Museo Nazionale Aracaelogico di Firenze) was found near Tuoro on Lake Trasimeno. But you can’t convince anyone in Pila (near Perugia) of that: as you enter the Parco dell’Arringatore (“Park of the Orator”), a sign adjacent to the wrought iron gate affirms that a farmer, Costanzo, unearthed the massive bronze Arringatore when plowing the vineyards of the Mansuetti villa in Pila in 1566. The Etruscan presence in the area is confirmed in the village name, “Pila” from “pilae”, the Latin word for stone mounds, i.e., the shape of Etriuscan burial sites. The Parco is part of the lands and gardens surrounding Villa Umbra built on the ruins of a 14th-c castle and shaded by the towering Mediterranean pines, popularly called “umbrella pines.” What a site for one of Umbria’s most delightful sagras, Picantissima, Festival del Peperoncino.


We were there last year about this time and the sagra highlighted with hot red pepper dishes now livens up quiet Pila. While most of the area sagre feste local Umbrian specialties, Pila’s festival offers Umbrian specialties every night of the ten-day festival – and last year, also dishes from southern Italy regions where peperoncino reigns, each region starring for two nights of the festival. Sicilian spicy dishes lead off for the first two nights, followed by Calabria, then Puglia with Basilicata next and then Campania wrapping up. We caught one of the two Campania nights with Pino opting for a mild dish – the famous campana mozzarella di bufala – while I chose fusilli tricolori di Amalfi all’ortolana con limone e peperoncino, a buonissimo medley of summer vegetables, Amalfi coast lemons and peperoncino made this pasta dish a festival favorite. How to resist those fagioli al peperoncino?  We shared a portion…




At an adjacent table, a more “conservative” (culinarily speaking) Perugia couple opted for a local dish, stinco di maiale con patate (pork shank with roasted potatoes).


Animated groups of families and chatting young couples filled the tables around us and a magician wandered about entertaining open-mouthed children (and their astounded parents).




As at any sagra, ballroom dancing draws diners towards the music of a live band after dinner. At this sagra last year exhibitions from local dance schools preceded the dancing: first belly-dancers and then a hip-hop group. The local dancing teacher closed her students’ performances with a dance pertinent to the Picantissima Festival: she writhed and leaped her way across the dance floor to the music of a pugliese folk dance, la pizzica (“the bite”) – a dance of the group known as “tarantelle” – rooted in the therapeutic rituals for the cure of bites of scorpions or tarantulas.


And speaking of bites: at Pila, savor the bite of peperoncino in countless tasty dishes. Picantissimo! And this year, that bite won’t be lacking: the menu stars dishes with habanero bianco, habanero rosso, moruga  scorpion red ,Buth Jolokia (ghost chili). Dessert? A local cheesecake with chocolate sauce spiced up with habanero rosso. Picantissimo, all the way…

Read here about another favorite sagra
Read about a chili pepper celebration in Rieti (in Latium)<
Read about another sagra near Perugia 
Read about a late-April sagra  near Perugia
Click here to read about a fall sagra near Assisi
Read about another festival where la porchetta is a headliner
Click here to read about a January legume festival
Read about an April wild asparagus sagra
Read about a festival where wines star
Click here to read about a June cheeses festival
Click here to read about a pici pasta sagra
Click here to read about an a local bean sagra in October
Click here for news on an October mushroom sagra
Click here for news on a November hazelnuts sagra
Click here for news on a November honey festival
Click here for news on an October saffron festival
Click here for news on a November chestnuts sagra
Click here for news on a November white truffles festival
Click here for news on a November chestnuts black truffles festival
Click here for the menu
Read about another winner of a sagra near Perugia
Click here to read about another June sagra – but near Assisi
Read about a favorite place to eat snails near Bevagna

1 Comment

  • Ann Krapf says:

    There’s always so much to learn about Italy. Thanks for sharing this tiny town and it’s sagra.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Privacy Policy

Privacy Italian Legislative Decree n° 196/2003 Under Article 13 of the Italian Legislative Decree no. 196/2003, regulations with regard to the Protection of Personal Data, this is an informative report to all interested parties on the modality of the treatment of personal data, arising from interaction with our website
THE PRINCIPAL FOR DATA TREATMENT During site consultation, personal data referring to identified or identifiable persons can be processed. The principal for data treatment is Anne Robichaud Pian della Pieve Assisi 06081 (PG) Italy. The data will be mainly processed at the mentioned head office by the people responsible for the website or by other people appointed for occasional maintenance operations, provided that their actions conform to of the guarantees enshrined in the Legislative Decree 196/2003.
Web navigation The information systems and software procedures required for the functioning of this website, acquire some personal data during their normal service, the transmission of which is implicit in the use of web communication protocols. This information is not collected with the purpose of identifying interested parties, but due to its very nature, the information could lead to user identification through processes and relations with data held by third parties. In this data category there are IP addresses or domain names belonging to computers used by users who connect to the site, addresses with URI (Uniform Resource Identifier) notification of the requested resources, time of the request, used method in submitting the request to the server, dimension of the file obtained in replying, the numeric code mentioning the reply status given by the server (successful reply, error, etc?) and other parameters referred to the operation system and to the user’s information environment. This data is used with the sole purpose of obtaining anonymous statistical information on the use of the site and to check the correct functioning; immediately after processing, the data is erased.
Data voluntarily supplied by the user The voluntary optional and explicit e-mail transmission to the addresses mentioned in this site implies the subsequent acquisition of the sender’s address, necessary to reply to the queries, as well as the other eventual personal data registered in the message.
OPTIONAL PERSONAL DATA SUPPLY Except for the above mentioned navigation data, the user may be asked to supply his own personal data through queries or messages to the email addresses shown in the contact pages. Failure to provide such data may be the cause of the inability to obtain the requested information from the company.
TREATMENT MODALITY The personal data is treated in compliance with the Legislative Decree no. 196/2003 and held only for the time necessary to achieve the aim for which it has been collected. Specific safety measures are taken to prevent any data loss, illicit or incorrect use and unauthorized access.
RIGHTS OF THIRD PARTIES The data subjects are at any time entitled to obtain confirmation as to whether or not data relating to him are held, to know the contents and the origin, to check the correctness, to ask for integration, updating or change (art. 7 Decree Law 196:June 2003). In accordance with the same article, they are entitled to obtain the erasure, conversion into anonymous form or freezing of all data used in breach of the law, to object, on legitimate grounds, to the processing of data relating to him. All requests have to be transmitted to the e-mail address

Agenzia Viaggi Stoppini in Assisi handles all technical support for my guided visits (bus transportation, organization of meals, etc)