IN EARLIER CENTURIES
The archaeological activities conducted in the church of San Daniele in Castello revealed that pigs were already being used as food in the proto-historic period between the 11th century and the 8th century B.C. Pig farming practices and the curing of pork developed in the Middle Ages. Pork is more popular than ever among the people of the Friuli region.
The San Daniele market
Much of the success and prosperity of San Daniele is due to the fact that for over seven centuries it was a patriarchal fiefdom. It was the patriarch who granted San Daniele the privilege of holding a market. The oldest evidence of a free market dates back to 1063. This privilege was confirmed by Frederick II in 1232.
Trading with Aquileia and Venice
The entrepreneurial, innovative and creative spirit of the inhabitants of San Daniele is no recent vocation. Indeed, the history of trading has ancient roots in this town. The ham trade with Aquileia and with Venice was particularly significant.
De conservanda sanitate
In his manuscript De Conservanda Sanitate dated 1453 and kept in the Biblioteca Guarneriana library, the physician Geremia Simeoni stated of domestic pigs that, although he deemed meat difficult to digest, “the lean parts preserved in salt can be eaten as hors d’oeuvres”. An old tip for using ham.
Pomponio Amalteo’s lacunaria in Gemona
In 1533 Pomponio Amalteo was commissioned to paint 42 lacunaria featuring prophets, saints and sibyls for the ceiling of the Church of San Giovanni in Brolo in the town of Gemona. One of these showed the important role being played by then by ham, mentioned on a scroll as a diplomatic tool entrusted to an ambassador.
A gift from the Community during the Council of Trent
The chronicles of the Council reported that the prelates who had gathered in Trent ate “thirty pairs of hams” (twelve of which were donated by the Patriarch of Aquileia), carried to Trent on mules from San Daniele, as recorded in a document dated 1 July 1563.
When San Daniele ham took the road to France
The tale is handed down that even the officers of Napoleon’s army who came to Friuli under the command of General Monge were aware that San Daniele ham was a delicacy, so much so that they carried off great quantities of them as plunder, together with other treasures kept in the Biblioteca Guarneriana.
Very important customers: the Courts of Europe
The Via Concordiense made the journey to the Alpine passes of Tarvisio and Monte Croce Carnico shorter. This meant that San Daniele was able to exploit its geographical position for trading purposes and to meet the demand for hams on the part of the Courts of Europe, in particular the Court of Vienna.
The development of production in the late 19th century
After annexation of the area to the Kingdom of Italy in 18966, San Daniele ham began to be shipped throughout the Kingdom and abroad. As a result of the increase in production, in 1887 an organisation called the Macelleria Sociale Cooperativa di San Daniele (San Daniele Butchers’ Social Cooperative) was established. In the book Le condizioni industriali della Provincia di Udine (Industrial conditions in the Province of Udine) published in 1890 it was stated that “The various different firms prepare ham known as San Daniele ham. This product is sold throughout the kingdom and abroad in wooden or tin boxes containing half a kilogram (at 3 liras), three quarters of a kilogram (4.50 liras) or one kilogram (6 liras). The quantity sold outside the province in this way amounts to about 5000 kilograms a year”.
San Daniele ham between the two wars
In the years following World War I, entrepreneurs from San Daniele seeking economic recovery started up new activities that were to bring innovation and industrialisation to the production and sale of their hams. In particular, they up-dated the forms of packaging of ham, thus improving its preservation and making it easier to export.
From 1961 to the present time
1961 Foundation of the Consorzio del prosciutto di San Daniele (San Daniele Ham Consortium)
The Consortium was created in 1961 and its foundation was characterised by the innovative ideas of the small group of promoters who sought to register and publicise the trademark. Even without a specific law, the trademark was a guarantee of the quality of a product for which there was a risk of counterfeiting, in spite of the fact that it was familiar to consumers. Subsequently, Act of Law no. 507 of 4 July 1970 was passed, providing a legislative tool enabling the adoption of measures for protecting the designation “prosciutto di San Daniele”. It was determined that the specific qualification of ham depended on its organoleptic and product-related properties, which were conditioned by the production environment and methods.
The decade started with the first law protecting the designation “Prosciutto di San Daniele”, inextricably linked to the condition that all the stages of processing of the product had to take place within the boundaries of the town of San Daniele del Friuli. In 1976 the town was badly damaged by an earthquake, but soon managed to resume its productive activities.
In 1984 year-round production was authorised
Until 1983 production was limited to the winter period. Then, on 5 January 1984 a law was approved to put an end to this restriction. This was a pivotal moment: the move dealt a heavy blow to counterfeit production and doubled the quantity of San Daniele hams put on the market. It ensured continuous production, thanks to the use of modern air-conditioning systems.
The first “Aria di festa” festival was held in 1985
“Aria di festa”, the now well-known ham festival, was held jointly with the association Prosandaniele, in the wake of the traditional summer festivals. It had a strong focus on communication in terms of ways of using the product and awareness of the local area.
In 1990 branding became compulsory for Designation of Origin status
With the new Act of Law no. 30 of 14 February 1990, application of the seal or of the brand certifying the date on which processing was started was confirmed and it was reiterated that the stages of preparation, salting and maturing had to take place in the area. Improper use of the name “San Daniele” was banned and it was possible to market the hams only after branding.
Registration of DPO status took place in 1996
The Designation of Protected Origin (DPO) “Prosciutto di San Daniele” was registered on 12 June 1996 with Regulation no. 1107/96, in accordance with the new EC legislation. It was included in the first list of PDO products approved in this respect by the European Commission. Exports began to increase and towards the end of 1996 the first shipments to the US were