Discovering one of the products symbol of Made in Italy, the characteristics that make it so unique, and the places where to taste it in the small town where it is produced, San Daniele del Friuli.
The history of the San Daniele ham begins in pre-Roman times, when the power of salt to preserve pork was already known and the particular climatic conditions offered by the Friuli area widely appreciated.
Its popularity grew over the centuries, pushed by a territory that for centuries was favored by the state of “free market”, whose oldest attestation dates back to 1063. In the 18th century, its circulation began also in Europe, thus sanctioning the start of its worldwide success.
In Friuli, a country, albeit cold, happy with beautiful mountains, several rivers and clear fountains, there is a land called Udine, very pleasant and with good air.
Why is it so special? The production cycle, which lasts no less than 13 months, is optimal in the area of San Daniele, a crossroads of cold winds from the Carnic Alps and a warm, brackish breeze from the Adriatic Sea. This is combined with the thermoregulatory function of the Tagliamento river, which flows not far away, one of the last examples in Europe of an alpine river to have preserved natural conditions almost everywhere.
In fact, one of the most ingenious advertisements for this symbolic product of Made in Italy says: “If someone managed to move seas and mountains, a ham like this could be made by anyone”. The ingredients? Just pork legs reared in Italy, sea salt and the microclimate of San Daniele del Friuli.
To protect its quality, the Consorzio del Prosciutto di San Daniele DOP was born in 1961; today it spreads its name and brand throughout the world, also through important events, including the now-famous Aria di Friuli Venezia Giulia which, held every summer in the small town of San Daniele, attracts many visitors with street parties and themed initiatives.
Where to taste it? Ai Bintars, a typical osteria, since 1950 a reference point and the oldest ham eatery in San Daniele. A truly unmissable address that continues its family tradition with the founder’s son, Primo Bortoluzzi, flanked by his wife Giuliana and sons Luca and Matteo.
Or, for an “immersive” experience, La Casa del Prosciutto, created by Alberti, which celebrated its 115th anniversary in 2021 years of history, the only company still located in the historic center of San Daniele. Here, in addition to producing the ham, there is the factory outlet and an osteria characterized by original tasting rooms literally immersed in the shapes hung to mature, where everything is themed, including the wooden trays in the shape of a ham.
If you are looking for a restaurant, you can opt for Osteria al Portonat, one of the most elegant in the country with its sage green director’s chairs and industrial lamps that illuminate the tables.