This dish was once reputed to be poor because horse meat was widely available in Piacenza. The geographical location of the city, actually, made it a stopover and temporary residence for many armies. Equines, once their military careers were over, often became cheap food.
The term “picùla” could, according to versions translate into Italian as “ration” or reflect the small ration the poor man could eat.
Fun fact: The horsemeat slaughterhouse in Piacenza opened in 1873, but it was already customary to consume horsemeat. A large amount of meat became available after the clash in Piacenza between the Austro-Russian and French armies in 1799.