Cato the Censor, Strabo and Polybius repeatedly celebrated pig breeding and farming of our provinces.
They described our dry-cured ham, that was once known as perexsuctum, while celebrating its preservation method and Parma's hills, the place where it was traditionally made.
This is the main reason why all salami factories here have large south-facing windows, so that Prosciutto di Parma DOP is dried by the salty air of the Ligurian Sea and the fresh scented breeze coming from the nearby Apennine woods.
A special festival is held in Langhirano, the seat of the Ham Museum, from late August to mid September, what gives visitors the possibility to taste the most famous cured meat in Emilia, while Felino is the homeland of salami.
Zibello is famous all over Italy for its most prestigious cured meat, that is scented by the moist air of the Po Valley. When we talk about old traditions to describe the art of making Culatello, we don't make a mistake. The reputation that this product has all over the world is quite recent, but the traditional manufacturing and the history of Culatello began many years ago. The Culatello di Zibello DOP is the undisputed protagonist of "November Pork, speriamo che ci sia la nebbia" (November Pork, we hope there will be mist), a famous food festival of the Bassa Parmense that celebrates the most famous staple of the surrounding area. Not to be missed is the second most important local produce, the famous spalla cotta from San Secondo.
Mortadella, that is famous all over the world and was even celebrated by some films and literary works, is the most representative cured meat from Bologna, and these terms are currently regarded to be synonyms in many parts of Italy. According to ancient medieval documents, it was invented by some monks from Bologna, but its origins date back to a previous period: Two Roman tombs, that are currently cherished by Bologna's Archaeological Museum, depict a pig breeder and a pork butcher while using a mortar, the tool that gave mortadella its name. Mortadella di Bologna IGP is celebrated by "Mortadella Please" in Zola Predosa, the national capital of mortadella production.
Cured meats are typically produced in every city of Emilia, but Piacenza boasts three DOP products: Coppa piacentina DOP, Salame piacentino DOP and Pancetta piacentina DOP. These delicious specialities have been produced since the XVIII century, and were especially appreciated by Philip V of Spain and by his wife Elisabetta Farnese. All year round, Piacenza celebrates its ancient pork-related traditions through the organization of funny folk festivals revolving around its three most prestigious products and further exquisite local staples. Every year, the Bassa Piacentina organizes an amazing food event, "Un Po di Gusto".
Modena, one of the Italian capitals of good food, is the homeland of Zampone and Cotechino di Modena IGP, that are traditionally served by local restaurants in winter and on the occasion of the New Year's Eve Dinner. They are some of the most authentic products of the region, and are traditionally accompanied by the famous "mostarda fina from Carpi" and mostarda (fruit pickles) from Mirandola. Mirandola is regarded to be the real homeland of Zampone, that was invented to preserve pork meat when the troops of Pope Giulio II besieged the city in 1511.
The famous Salama da sugo from Ferrara boasts noble origins too: Originally served at the ducal courts, it subsequently became a traditional rural dish and is now prepared on special occasions. Cooking the Salama da sugo is a real ritual: It must be left hanging over the fire for more than six hours. Visitors will have the opportunity to taste it between September and November, when Madonna Boschi di Poggio Renatico arranges the famous Festival of salamina da sugo al cucchiaio.
Of late the trend has been to favour traditional breeds of pig, such as the "Mora romagnola". This black skinned race is fatter and tastier, making it ideal for high quality sausages and salamis.