I am Italian. That means I am very proud of my Italian origins, I love my mum and I would never be able to live without eating Salumi at least 3 times a week. This article will cover the most famous Italian Salumi from every region, giving some history and production information for each, along with pictures. It will hopefully help you understand more about Italy rich Salumi tradition. A special thanks to Anastasia for the watercolors she drew for the article!
Salume (plural: Salumi)
An Italian word to define a meat based food, cooked or raw, cured with salt and other spices.
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Click on a region and get hungry…
Typical of L’Aquila region. There are 2 types: pressed or round. It is produced with lean mix of loin, shoulder, lean leg and capocollo that is then finely ground and stuffed into a natural casing. For the pressed one, back in the days it was pressed between pieces of wood: in fact, wood gives a specific taste to it.
Made in Abruzzo. They’re made from a mixture of pork liver, heart and lungs, to which is added guanciale and pork fat. Garlic, salt and other spices are added to the mix. The mixture is then stuffed into a natural casing. The seasoning consists of 2 phases. Hot, during which the sausage is smoked, and then cold and dry, to make sure no air gets stuck inside. The sausages are then cleaned and put into vases, filled completely with olive oil and pork lard. This last step gives the sausages their traditional flavor. Once seasoned, the sausage can be cut and eaten raw, with bread.
The result is put in a jar. The final consistency is soft and spreadable, idea on toasted bread.
Pezzente means “extremely poor”, and it’s a Salume from the south of Italy, made with poor parts of the pork. Back in the days, it was made by farmers. The less noble parts of the pig are used to make this Pezzente. Throat parts, stomach, residual fats, are all cut and ground. Sweet and chili pepper, fennel, garlic and salt are added.
Made using neck muscles of pork raised in Calabria region. Raw weight must be between 3,5-4,5kg. After the initial de-boning, the piece is salted for 4-8 days. Afterwards, the meat is washed, dried and treated with vinegar. A strong massage happens before the black pepper is applied. Then the meat is stuffed into pig’s abdominal wall, strongly tied and holes are made on the surface. The seasoning takes place in well ventilated rooms for around 15 weeks.
Traditional pancetta from Calabria. Covered with ground spicy pepper.
Prepared with leg and shoulder pork meat. Medium grind, with added fat and natural aromas, including chili pepper. Soppressata means “pressed”, because it requires to be put under pressure once prepared.
Prepared with pork shoulder meat. Spicy. Traditional “U” shape.
A soft spreadable Salami. Very spicy. The name comes from the french “andouille“, that means Sausage. ‘Nduja is not a sausage though, even if it could look like one. It is made of pork meat, fat, and a lot of chili pepper from Calabria. This is also the reason why ‘Nduja is so red. Originally from Spilinga.
Capicollo, literally means “top of the neck” because it is made using the upper part of the pig’s neck. In Campania, the production is spread in the whole region. It is usually seasoned from 2 to 4 months.
Even if called “Salame Napoli” (Naples), it is actually widely produced in the whole region. It was historically considered a precious good. It was originally donated in exchange of expensive services or eaten for important festivities.
From Pietraroja. A Prosciutto dating back centuries. In the archives of the Kingdom of Napoli, the stamps of this small village had a woman holding a Pietraroja Prosciutto on it. The mountain climate and the traditional way of producing it make this Prosciutto unique.
The meat comes from neck muscles of pigs raised in Lombardia or Emilia Romagna regions.
The cut must weight more than 2,5kg. The meat is massaged, squeezed and trimmed. Then the meat is cured and aromatized with:
After one waiting week, Coppa is stuffed into natural casing and tied up. A first drying seasoning lasts 7 days, but the complete seasoning time lasts for 6+ months, at a constant temperature between 10°C and 14°C with controlled humidity.
Originally from Zibello, outside of Parma. The meat comes from the finest part of the pork leg. The cut is cured with salt, garlic and pepper. The seasoning lasts at least 10 months.
Produced in Piacenza region. The meat is cured with salt, pepper, cloves and sugar, and then put in fridges at temperature of 4°C, with controlled humidity of 70-80% for 2 weeks. After this period, the surface is cleaned, and the Pancetta is rolled. After an initial resting time Pancetta is dried for 1 week at 20°C, and then seasoning lasts at least for 2 months.
This Prosciutto has a very long history, dating back to the bronze age. The Romans would also bring large quantities of Prosciutto and preserved meats during their trips.
The pork leg is refrigerated at 0°C, cured, then kept at 2°C for around 8 weeks. The cut is washed, dried and then “Sugnatura” takes place: it is done manually, the lean parts of Prosciutto are covered with a thin layer of “Sugna”, which is a mix of flour, lard, salt and black pepper. This not only protects the Prosciutto from insects, but keeps the meat tender. The seasoning lasts for 1 year.
Prosciutto comes from Latin “Prae exuctus”, that means “dried up”. The findings of new salt mines in the century XIV, allowed Parma farmers to preserve meat in better ways. As time passed, Parma developed more and more a strong meat tradition, and in 1500, the first writings concerning Prosciutto di Parma can be found in a poem by Pomponio Torelli.
Produced since 1680 using the upper neck part of the pork. The piece is salted dry, and put on shelves so that salt penetrates in the meat. The piece is then stuffed into natural casing, and tied up. The piece is dried and seasoned for minimum 60 days, which gives the traditional smell and flavor.
The most traditional new years eve Italian dish. We usually eat this as a tradition with lentils, after midnight.
The typical Bologna documents are from 1661, when a paper was published, setting the production rules and standards. Only the finest pork meat is used for production, ground finely, to which cubes of fat are added. The mix is cooked for several hours, or days for the bigger Mortadella pieces. It’s very common in Italy to refer to this salume simply as Bologna.
Made in Ferrara area using poor cuts of pork meat, including tongue, liver and capocollo, guanciale, pancetta, to which natural aromas are added, and young wine. All the ingredients are mixed together and then stuffed and tied on top. After 1 night of drying, it is seasoned for at least 10-11 months.
Originally made in Felino, this traditional Salame owes its recognizable taste not only to the mature and heavy porks used for production, but also to the climate of the region.
A traditional Prosciutto from San Daniele del Friuli. Made with selected Italian pork legs, properly salted and seasoned. The particular climate on San Daniele is the essential ingredient that gives this Prosciutto its classic taste.
Originally from Sauris, using pork legs from north and center of Italy. The only ingredients used are salt, black pepper, garlic. The important characteristic of this Prosciutto is the slight smokey flavor given by beech wood.
It originated in Prague, over 150 years ago. but it became a traditional Prosciutto Cotto (Cooked Prosciutto) in Trieste area, so much that it has been put in the list of traditional local Salumi. Slightly smoked.
Traditionally from Ariccia, outside Rome. 1 year old pigs are usually used for Porchetta. Once the entire pig is emptied and cleaned, it is filled with the traditional ingredients, salt, black pepper, garlic, sometimes liver or spleen in pieces, rosemary or wild fennel depending on the area where is produced. After this, the pig is put on a stick and is tied tightly. The pig is then cooked in the oven for 2 to 5 hours depending on the size of the pig. While cooking, the fats melt and the final Porchetta is leaner and crispy on the outside…
Enjoyed since the end of the 19th century. The particular refinement techniques used to prepare it make the Prosciutto low on humidity and high on proteins, which is a sign of quality. It has an intense flavor, given by a seasoning of at least 12 months. It comes from Amatrice area, which was hit in 2016 by strong earthquakes. I would still recommend looking into buying this Prosciutto, and support the locals. If you’ll be traveling in the area, go to Amatrice and the surrounding towns. The landscape is stunning. The earthquake sadly disrupted tourism in the area, and the people are doing their best to recover.
Made using the leftovers of other Salami productions. It’s a poor Salame, made of beef and pork meat. In the past, in Liguria, the groom would bring a Mostardella as a present to the bride’s parents. The father would decide whether the man is good for his daughter, if so, the Salame would be cut.
From Valtellina. Beef meat is used to make it. Horse Bresaola also exists. The meat is treated with salt, black pepper and natural herbs. It’s kept for 10-15 days in wooden containers, at 4°C. Then it’s washed, dried, stuffed and seasoned for around 12 weeks
Literally “Hunter’s Salami”, they are seasoned Salami, small sized, easy for hunters to bring in the woods. They were the perfect snack for a hunter, as they’re very tasty and rich in fat and proteins. The size would depend on the duration of the hunting session. Nowadays, they’re a perfect snack, usually eaten with bread. These Hunter’s Salami come from different Italian regions.
Made using all parts of pork, including the finest parts, that would usually be used for coppa or prosciutto.
Produced in the area in the north of Milano. Pork shoulder, pancetta, throat, and other lean parts are used. Mixed with salt, black pepper, garlic, wine. Then stuffed and seasoned. Smaller pieces are ready in 15 days, otherwise a 5-month seasoning is needed.
Typical Salame from Cremona, made of pork meat. Produced since 1200 in monasteries, it was distributed to the people during the festivities.
From Mortara. A cooked Salame made of goose (Oca) and pork meat. Mortara has a very strong goose tradition.
From Carpegna, where a mix of mountain and sea climate gives this Prosciutto its unique taste. it has a characteristic pink color.
Soft and spreadable, the name comes from latin, and it means “small food”. It used to be eaten in small quantities by farmers, on bread.
Produced in Molise since 1816, it’s a pork Salume produced using capocollo and loin, with added salt, lard, and black pepper. Mixed then stuffed into natural casing, it is placed under pressure for a few days. “Soppressata” mean, in fact, “pressed“. It is also dried using fire, so to smoke it a little. The seasoning then lasts for around 5 months.
Originally from Conca Casale, a little village with about 200 people. The traditional preparation is known by a group of old ladies (“signora” means lady). It’s a rich Salume: It was rarely consumed by the producers, it was instead given to more important people in exchange of services. It is made using loin, shoulder, for the lean part, and Pancetta lard, for the fat part. They could make only one Signora for every pork, so it was considered a valuable Salume.
Produced in Cuneo area. Made using legs of porks that reached at least 150kg. Treated with sea salt for 2 weeks, then the pork leg is put to dry for 50 days. The seasoning lasts for 10 months in total, with warmer temperatures as the Prosciutto seasons.
In 1854 the chef Giovanni Vialardi, from Savoia royal family, describes in a document the recipe to make this Salame. The recipe is very similar to the one used today, and also included the addition of “a glass of good Barbera wine“. Pork meat is used, the lean part from leg, shoulder and pancetta. The fat part from pancetta, throat fat, and lard.
Known and appreciated since 1700 in the Kingdom of Naples, it is originally produced in Martina Franca. Meat from the upper part of the pork neck is used (capocollo). The productions consists of 4 steps:
Sheep Prosciutto, made in Sardegna using sheep legs.
Originally from Sant’Angelo di Brolo, it’s made using the finest parts of the pork, hand cut with a knife.
Pancetta with a delicate flavor, well balanced and spiced. Meat comes from Black Nebrodi pigs.
Capocollo made from Black Nebrodi pigs.
Pork leg, season for a month with salt, black pepper, laurel, rosemary, juniper berries, garlic and other natural aromas. In the next phase, prosciutto is covered with “sugna” a mix of pork fat with rice flour, salt, and black pepper. This is done to protect and keep the prosciutto tender. The last step is the seasoning, followed by quality tests and eventually black pepper is applied on the surface (“pepatura”).
Ground pork meat, aromatized with fennel seeds and red wine.
From Colonnata. Pork lard is aromatized and seasoned in marble tubs for 6-10 months.
Originally a very poor Salume, made using the pork leftovers of other productions otherwise wasted. Nowadays, there is no need to use leftovers, so pork meat from shoulder, leg, lard, capocollo, guanciale, and pancetta is used. The mix is boiled or steamed with natural aromas. The most interesting ingredient Alchermes liquor, that makes the taste of this Salume very unique.
A unique Salume. Trentino is an Italian region located in the very north of Italy, a sort of link between Italy and northern Europe. Speck perfectly represents this. In fact, it blends in the mediterranean seasoning, and the typical northern European smoking. The production follows the traditional rule “little salt, little smoke and lots of fresh air”. Its unique smell and strong taste make it one of the most recognizable Italian Salumi.
From Norcia. Produced using pork legs, sea salt and little spices. The altitude and climate play an important role in the production of this popular Prosciutto.
Norcia is an area recently hit by earthquakes, and trying to recover. Many local Salumi producers have sadly seen their life works destroyed in front of their eyes.
From Arnad. A tasty lard, spiced with rosemary, laurel, sage, cloves, cinnamon, juniper, nutmeg, yarrow.
From Saint-Rhémy-en-Bosses. Made using legs of porks weighting 160kg or more and seasoned with local herbs and spices.
Traditional prosciutto from Veneto.
Originally from Vicenza area. Production consists of 7 steps:
I hope you enjoyed the list, and hopefully it made you want to come to Italy, rent a car and go on mission from north to south, eating the tastiest Salumi! I am also working on similar articles about Italian olive oil, cheeses, and Panini… so stay tuned, and thanks for reading. Grazie!