“Struncatura”, illegal Calabrian pasta, now become high cuisine


We are in the plain of Gioia Tauro where the “Struncatura” has risen after being for a long time an illegal recovery pasta.

Calabrian Struncatura arrived in Gioia Tauro in 1919, brought from Atrani, a village on the Amalfi Coast. An inexperienced eye can confuse it with a simple whole wheat pasta, but a Calabrian from the province of Reggio recognizes it at first glance. Dark, porous and rough linguine: this is how the Struncatura (Italianized, “Stroncatura“) presents itself, a symbol of the gastronomic identity of a part of Calabria.

Atrani (Amalfi coast)

The Calabrians are great eaters of pasta, but unlike the “fileja” (a kind of strozzapreti made with flour, water) diffused almost everywhere, the Struncatura is available only in the province of Reggio Calabria and the production area is restricted to such area.

Handmade pasta

Many years ago there was no law governing whole wheat pasta, it had no label and was not legal. It could be sold only smuggled, just under the table to the people known.


The place of Struncatura  is the plain of Gioia Tauro, the second largest plain in the region, enclosed between the Tyrrhenian Sea, Monte Poro and Aspromonte. A fertile agricultural center, rich in citrus groves and ancient olive trees, whose fame unfortunately is also connected to sad episodes of ‘ndragheta and caporalato.

The two main cities, Gioia Tauro and Palmi, compete for the paternity of the Struncatura, but if you want to eat the real one, you have to go to Gioia Tauro.

In Gioia Tauro one hundred years ago the Struncatura was brought to the this city, making it the culinary center of the whole Plain.

Gioia Tauro (Sunset)

Struncatura arrived in Gioia Tauro in 1919, as said above, brought directly from Atrani, a village on the Amalfi Coast. Some merchants  came to Gioia because, at the time, the town was an important merchant artery. Nobody knew Struncatura here, it was a pasta that was made only in Campania, using the various durum wheat semolina that advanced in the sacks of pasta factories.


Today the Struncatura is in great demand, even as an ingredient in starred restaurants, especially in Calabria, but its appeal has not always been recognized. Rather. There was a time when this pasta was synonymous with pet food or poor cooking.

Nowadays, the ingredients are always the same: Italian durum wheat, semolina (from Campania, Puglia, Basilicata and Lazio) and water. Semolina, not flour. It is not the same thing and the flour is not among the components of this pasta.

Durum wheat and Semolina

To make the Struncatura it shall be used, in particular, the parts of the durum wheat that are less sugary and richer in fiber, the bran and the endosperm. This affects the color of the dough, made porous and rough by the slow drying.

In the past, given that this pasta was synonymous with pet food and poor cooking, in order to cover its acidity, it was often seasoned with sardines and anchovies which, with their strong flavor, were intended to suppress its taste without compromise.

Still today, the dough retains cooking in an exceptional manner, and the porosity retains a savory, but not intrusive, seasoning, in which it can be added anchovy and the chili pepper, plus some olives.

Struncatura + anchovy, chili pepper and some olives

Its re-discovery, however, led to an unbridled race to production with unsuccessful attempts to replicate it, which resulted in the frequent opening of pasta factories, not always up to par, not very respectful of the raw material. So it often happens that you come across culinary oxymorons of fresh Struncature or, even, vacuum packed, in front of which the only question you can ask yourself is “why?“.

In these cases the only thing to do is to rely on common sense, which prevents us from calling Struncatura a fresh pasta!

“Mantonico”, the Mediterranean wine of the prophets


If you think to a wine believed to confer divinatory powers to whom drinks it, then this is that white nectar called “Mantonico“, a white wine coming from  a rare native vine of Calabria.

This is another story about Calabria and its cultural and enological richness: let’s discover the Mantonico, the wine of the prophets.


Its origins are still little known, but it is said that this grape also arrived with the landing of the first Greek colonists in the 7th century BC on the shores of Locride, or that has been domesticated earlier in the ancient Enotria.

Alcaeus of Mytilene: “Now we need to drink…or to suffer the pains

In all probability the name derives from the Greek μαντονικος (mantonikos), from μαντις-εος (mantis-eos), which means “fortune-teller“, “prophet“.

If one drinks it in abundance, can fall into that “state of elation” that in the ancient times generated the power of divination: in classical antiquity one realized communication between the human and the supernatural, through a spiritual contact with the divinity.
Ancient grapes have always characterized myths and legends of the wine world.

A golden grape

In Calabria, too, as happens with the Greco di Bianco, around Mantonico fascinating stories revolve that tell the oenological roots of the varied biodiversity of the region. This way, Matonico has become a very important autochthonous grape.

This variety is a “niche” for its rarity, but also an element of culture, which remained in history of southern Italy, as evidenced by the traces left by the Dionysian cults, by the orgiastic rites or by the Roman bacchanals.


For centuries this Calabrese white grape variety has been confused with Trebbiano and above all with Montonico Bianco which in Ampelographic Bulletins of 1875 is referred to as a permanent plantation in the province of Teramo.

Neither it should not be confused with the Montonico Pinto of the Ionian Calabria.

It is known by numerous synonyms, from Uva Regno to Ciapparone and Caprone, some of these similar to those used to define Montonico Bianco. There is also the red berry variety, but it is not very common.

The rare red acinus variety

The Mantonico has its ideal habitat in some areas of southern Calabria: its greatest spread is recorded along the Ionian coast, where it covers a total area of about 45 hectares, distributed mainly in the municipalities of Palizzi, Casignana, Locri (where in dialect it is called Mantonacu viru that is “true Mantonico”, to differentiate it from other similar varieties) and Monasterace, all in the province of Reggio Calabria, but also dates back to the Crotone, in the Valle del Neto and in the Marquisate.

These are hilly areas particularly suited to viticulture, with their calcareous-clayey soils and the Mediterranean climate mitigated by sea breezes.

In the past, sapling cultivation was preferred; today, spurred cordon cultivation was widespread; once the Mantonico was mainly intended for export as a table grape, especially towards Northern Europe.


The bunches are stocky and of medium size, while acinus are medium in size, ellipsoid, regular, with a sweet and acidulous taste at the same time, with a resistant and tannic peel of greenish yellow color, but which arrive at late maturation with a beautiful golden yellow. These characteristics have favored the use of the ancient technique of drying the grapes on racks before proceeding with the vinification, thus obtaining a sweet and concentrated nectar, as happens with the Greco di Bianco.

Thus was born another “meditation wine“, of a golden yellow with amber reflections, with intense notes of flowers, candied fruit (apricot, citrus), honey and dried fruit, delicious on the palate, fresh, savory and velvety.

Excellent at the end of a meal together with aged cheeses or dry pastry desserts, such as mostaccioli.

Vineyard on Ionian Coast

Another Calabrian enological pearl that has recently been revalued and enhanced not only in the passito version but also in the dry version.

If it is dry vinified (which happens in very few wineries), it produces a wine with a pale yellow color, but with fine and elegant floral hints, fruity citrus, peach.