Abruzzese Macaroni

Maccheroni alla Chitarra

The chitarra (‘guitar’) used to make this kind of pasta is unique to the Abruzzi. It is actually a rectangular frame with metal strings stretched across the hollow of the box, just like a musical instrument. The pasta is laid on top of the strings and a rolling pin is rolled on top of the pasta, pushing it through the gaps between the strings to fall underneath. You end up with square-sided spaghetti which are known locally as maccheroni alla chitarra. You can buy a chitarra in any of the local shops of the Abruzzi.

Marisa Lazzarro made this delicious dish for us in her lovely kitchen in L’Aquila. You could use the sauce with any type of pasta.


For the maccheroni

  • lb (500 g) plain white flour
  • 3 eggs and 1 egg yolk, mixed together
  • or 14 oz (400 g) readymade maccheroni

For the sauce

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • oz (120 g) guanciale or pancetta or bacon, cubed
  • 1 dried red chilli pepper, chopped, or to taste
  • lb (500 g) canned tomatoes, de-seeded and coarsely chopped
  • salt


Make a pasta dough with the flour and eggs and roll it out into sheets about 6 inches (15 cm) wide. If you have a chitarra, cut these sheets into maccheroni. Alternatively cut the dough into any shape you like.

Heat the oil and fry the onion with the guanciale or pancetta or bacon until the onion is soft and the fat is running. Add the chilli and fry for a further 5–10 minutes. Add the canned tomatoes and their juice and a little salt and cover. Simmer for about 30–40 minutes.

Toss the pasta into boiling salted water and cook until just tender. Drain carefully, transfer to a warm bowl and toss thoroughly with the sauce before serving.