Italian Salami

Soppressata tradizionale

Italian Salami: How they came to be

The specialty products of Italian charcuterie are numerous and all characterized by unique elements, as well as by common factors such as the quality of raw materials, from “heavy pigs.” Furthermore, the pork’s appropriateness from “heavy pigs” for charcuterie products also depends on the feeding of pigs and pig farms’ structure.

Also, production techniques are key factors within the supply chain of Italian charcuterie products. Last but not least, the excellence of Italian charcuterie products is the series of controls carried out to assure their quality and safety.

Italy has a long history of preserving meats. It also has an innumerable number of salamis; each region has its way of maintaining the pig’s meat. Here you find a list of the most common ones:


Prosciutto Crudo:

Prosciutto Crudo

It is the “Prince” of Italian charcuterie products. It is a matured product made from selected pork legs, coming from pigs with weights ranging from 160 to 180 kg (the so-called “heavy pigs”). It is elongated and pear-shaped; its interior color is more or less rosy, uniform, and edged by a fat layer. The aroma is fragrant; the taste is delicate, faintly salty, tasty, and flavorful. How cured ham came to be the most famous hams are protected by the PDO and PGI designations: Prosciutto di Parma Ham, Prosciutto di San Daniele, Prosciutto di Modena, Prosciutto di Carpegna, Prosciutto Veneto Berico – Euganeo, Prosciutto Toscano, Prosciutto di Norcia, and Jambon de Bosses are all protected Italian salamis designations.


Tuscan Salami

It is a product with very ancient origins that evolved over the centuries into several types that now make up a real family subdivided into regional specialties. Italian salamis differentiate themselves according to meat grinding (whether fine, medium, or coarse). According to the spices and ingredients (garlic, chili pepper, fennel seeds, wine), each type contributes to a definite personality.

In Italian salami, meat, fat, and other possible ingredients are minced together, put into casings, and matured. Then, towards the end of the maturation period, each salami type develops its typical aroma. The shape is generally elongated and varies in size; when sliced, the inside looks red with grains of white/pink fat, the odor is intense and delicious, and the flavor is clearly defined.

Some of the most renowned salamis are the following: salami Milano (wonderful grain), salami Felino (medium-sized grain), Hungarian salami (fine grain and slightly smoked), salami Napoli (fine grain) and Soppressa Veneta (medium-sized grain), and at least five types, namely Brianza, Piacentino, Salame di Varzi, Soppressata di Calabria and Salamini Italiani alla Cacciatora received the PDO Community recognition.


The typical charcuterie product from the Alto Adige region and has been given the IGP Community recognition. In addition, the Alto Adige speck region is protected by a specific Consortium that checks and guarantees its quality by applying the Consortium mark to each piece passing controls.

Speck is made from raw pork legs that are then smoked and matured. One of the secrets in making a good speck is its smoking, an operation that lasts for about ten days using non-resinous types of wood (beech, juniper, and ash).
Speck is long and flat-like in shape; the inside is pink with a tendency towards red and clearly defined fat parts. It has a very distinct spicy and smoky taste. Thus, it is incredibly versatile from a gastronomic point of view.


Bresaola della Valtellina

Bresaola is made from beef leg cuts, dry-cured for about two weeks with salt, pepper, garlic, cinnamon, laurel, and cloves.
This product is a typical one from the Valtellina area, and only the Bresaola produced in the province of Sondrio is entitled to bear the IGP European recognition.
Bresaola has a bright red color; its smell is delicate, and you can perceive slightly spicy aromas; the taste ranges from slightly savory to mild, and the texture is soft and compact.
This charcuterie product is highly nutritional and energetic thanks to the high protein content and the total or almost total absence of fat.



It is considered to be one of the most prestigious charcuterie products of the Italian tradition. It is made from the fresh rear pork legs, defatted and skinned, separating the femur’s muscle mass. The front part of this joint is destined to prepare “Fiocco,” which undergoes a shorter maturation period for culatello.
Both Culatello and Fiocco are specialties coming from Parma, and the Culatello di Zibello has been given the DOC mark. Their nutritional facts are similar to those of defatted cured hams.



Prepared using the neck muscles, it follows a production process that is in many ways similar to that of cured hams.
It is typical of the Parma and Piacenza areas, and Coppa Piacentina received the DOC Community recognition. However, other regions in Italy produce it, where they use different processing methods. In addition, it takes various names (Capocollo, which received the DOC mark if made in the Calabria region).
Coppa is cylinder-shaped, pointed at both ends. Its texture is compact but not elastic. Inside, this product is red with white to fat pink veins. It is one of the most nourishing charcuterie products; its smell is mild and characteristic; its taste is delicate and refined with maturation.



It is made from the pork belly; its shape changes according to the type. For example, it is square in flat pancetta with skin on or skinless, classical, or smoked. Instead, rolled Pancetta, Magretta, and Pancetta Coppata (its name derives from moving together Pancetta and Coppa) are all round in shape. Pancetta Piacentina and Pancetta di Calabria received the DOC Community mark.
Its color is rosy white, more reddish in leaner Pancettas. Its smell is delicate and varies depending on the spices used, such as pepper and cloves, whereas Pancettas from central Italy are often flavored with garlic and fennel seeds.

Lardo (lard):

Lard is from pork back, more precisely, from the fatty layer under the skin. Heavy pigs are used to make a high-quality product. These animals must have a strong constitution, well-developed muscles, and a ratio between fatty and lean cuts that are more favorable to the latter.
Several production – preservation and maturation – techniques to make lard, and they vary according to the region. The most famous ones are Lardo di Colonnata IGP and Lard d’Arnad, which have obtained DOC European recognition.
Today it is considered a precious product and is widely used in gastronomy.

Prosciutto cotto (cured ham):

It is from boned pork legs that are salted and then cooked.
The shape of cured ham usually is roundish; the inside is light pink with a thin, fat edge that contributes to its flavor fullness, which is delicate, though typical, like the aroma characterizing it.
This product has relatively recently joined the tradition of Italian charcuterie. It is now one of the favorite products among consumers due to its nutritional characteristics and gastronomic versatility. “Roasted” and “herb” versions are also available.



This product’s typical features are its cylinder shape, appearance, and slice color: a uniform pink (finely minced meat) studded with clear-cut white little cubes (the so-called lardons, prime quality fat). Its smell is unmistakable and slightly spicy; its taste is full and well-balanced thanks to the lardons’ very presence that mitigate the meat flavor.

Italian Mortadella has a centuries-old history, produced using techniques that are unique in the world. As a result, Mortadella Bologna bears the IGP Community mark.


Typically Italian, Zampone mixes lean pork, minced pork skin, and fat with salt and spices, then stuffed into the front pork trotters’ skin.
The market offers both raw and pre-cooked, and sterilized Zampones.

The latter is enormously appreciated because it reduces preparation times. Its consumption is mainly in the winter months, particularly during the Christmas period, but it would deserve more attention from consumers throughout the entire year.

Zampone Modena is a IGP charcuterie product.
Unlike what people may otherwise think, Zampone is a balanced product.



Cotechino, produced with the same mix used for Zampone, is put in a different casing type.

Cotechino is also available for sale in raw and pre-cooked sterilized versions. The consumption of Cotechino usually takes place in the winter months, in particular, during the Christmas period; however, its presence on the table is also extending to other occasions.
Cotechino Modena, just like the Zampone Modena, has been given IGP recognition.

From a nutritional point of view, Cotechino guarantees an adequate supply of noble proteins. Moreover, the composition of the fats it contains is in line with the suggestions of modern dietary sciences.

Wurstel: sells Frankfurter Würstel in the n USA – WordRidden / Jessica Spengler CC BY 2.0

It is a type of salami that arrived in Italy from central Europe but is also very popular and well-liked in Italy. Small in size, generally a “single portion,” is made by putting a mix of selected pork meats into a casing.

The external and internal color usually is pink. In contrast, the producer can personalize the taste of the individual types by adding flavorings, such as red onion, salt, pepper, oregano, and, sometimes, even sugar.
Eaten raw or cooked, it has quickly integrated itself into the modern Italian gastronomic world.


Ciccioli – Mauro Renna CC0

Originally typical of the Emilia Romagna region, they have become famous throughout the Italian peninsula.

Cicciolis are produced by using the scraps of lean or fatty pork parts roasted and then melted to obtain rendered fat.

Italian salami varieties:

Bale d’Aso
Biroldoor Buristo o rSanguinaccio
Bocconcini di Daino
Bondiola Affumicata
Bondiola d’Adria
Bondiola di Treviso
Bresaola della Valtellina
Bresaola dell’Ossola
Bresaoladi Cervo
Budellaccio di Norcia
Cacciatorior Bastardelli
Capocollo Basilicata
Capocollo Puglia
Capocollo Calabria
Capocollo Umbria
Cappello da Prete
Carne di Melezet
Carne Salada
Cervellata Calabrese
Cervellata Pugliese
Ciauscoloor Ciavuscolo
Coppadi Ascoli Piceno
Coppa Umbra
Coppiette Ciociare
Corallina di Norcia
Cotechino Lombardo
Cotechino di Modena
Cotechino di San Leo
Culatello di Zibello
Fegato Dolce
Fegato Pazzo
Fiaschetta Aquilana
Filetto Baciato
Fiocco di Daino
Lardo di Cavour
Lardo di Colonnata
Lardo di Saint Arnad
Luganega Veneta
Luganiga Lombarda
Mazzafegato umbro
Mazzafegato delle Marche
Mocettaor Motzetta
Mortadella di Bologna
Mortadella di Campotosto
Mortadella di Fegato
Mortadella di Fegato or Mortadella d’Orta or Fidighin
Mortadella Nostrale
Mortadella Umbra
Mortadellina Amatriciana
Mortandela del Trentino
Mostardella Ligure
Pampanella di San Martino
Porchetta di Ariccia
Prosciutto Affumicato
Prosciutto Berico-Euganeo
Prosciutto Cotto
Prosciutto Cottonel Pane
Prosciutto di Bardotto
Prosciutto di Basciano
Prosciutto di Bassiano
Prosciutto di Bosses
Prosciutto di Carpegna
Prosciutto di Cinghiale Latium
Prosciutto di Cinghiale Tuscany
Prosciutto di Daino
Prosciutto di Guarcino
Prosciutto di Modena
Prosciutto di Montefalcone
Prosciutto di Norcia
Prosciutto diOssola
Prosciutto di Parma
Prosciutto di San Daniele
Prosciutto di Sauris
Prosciutto di ValVigezzo
Prosciutto Lucano
Prosciutto Romano
Prosciutto Toscano
Salama da Sugo
Salame Brianzolo
Salame d’Asino
Salame del Montefeltro
Salame della Duja
Salame di Cinghiale
Salame di Cremona
Salame di Daino
Salame di Fabriano
Salame di Felino
Salame di Mantova
Salame di Pecora
Salame di Rape
Salame di Sant’Olcese
Salame di Varzi
Salame d’Oca
Salame Genovese
Salame Milano
Salame Napoli
Salame Sant’Angelo
Salame Toscano
Salsiccia Calabrese
Salsiccia Cruda di Bra
Salsiccia di Castrato
Salsiccia di Lecce
Salsiccia di Monte San Biagio
Salsiccia di Polmone
Salsiccia di Rionero
Salsiccia Pezzente
Salsiccia Sarda
Salsiccia Stufata
Sanguinacci sardi
Sanguinaccio di Lecce
Sanguinati molisani
Soppressa del Pasubio
Soppressata Molisana
Soppressata Campana
Soppressata Basilicata
Soppressata Calabrese
Soppressata di Fabriano
Soppressata or Testa in Cassetta or Mallegato
Spalla Cotta di San Secondo
Speck Quadratoor Peze Enfumegade
Su Zurette
Testain Cassetta
Teutenneor Tetetteor Tetin
Tzemesadaor Mesada
Ventricina Abruzzese
Ventricina Molisana
Ventricina Vastese

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Enrico Massetti was born in Milan, Italy.
Now he lives in Washington, DC, USA.
Still, he regularly visits his hometown
and enjoys going around all the places in his home country
especially those he can reach by public transportation.

Enrico loves writing guide books on travel in Italy
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