Guided tours of San Daniele ham – A marvel of Udine gastronomic tradition

Discover the uniqueness of San Daniele Ham and explore Friuli Venezia Giulia, The best of Italy’s North-East.

San Daniele is a medieval town located in the morainic hills of Friuli, northern-east of Italy. This place in the province of Udine is famous worldwide for its tasty ham called Prosciutto di San Daniele. So, what is so unique of this ham? How is it made and how different it is from the other famous Parma ham made in Emilia Romagna Region?

The process of preparation of prosciutto is quite common: the hind leg is used and to make San Daniele is custom to leave the pig trotter on. The piece of meat is only slightly salted for a certain period of time.  The amount of time that the leg should be kept under salt is determined by the weight of the meat. A piece weighing 13 Kg should be kept in a bed of salt for 13 days. One day for each kilo of weight. The ham should also have its triangular characteristic shape. Following the drying and seasoning steps for at least 10 months and allowing up to two years of ageing the hams are ready for the consortium inspection.

The first feature of the San Daniele ham is that the pigs are bred and reared exclusively from ten regions of central-northern Italy (Friuli Venezia Giulia, Veneto, Emilia Romagna, Lombrady, Piedmont, Tuscany, Marche, Umbria, Abruzzo, Latium.) and fed with high quality fodder and a strict diet. The meat comes from authorized butchers only.

But the real trick is the geographical location of San Daniele and its micro-climate; since centuries, people have realised that this location makes the ham have a unique taste which is beyond the simple drying and preservation process. This is possible thanks to the position of this town, located between the fresh air currents from the Alps and the humid currents from the Adriatic Sea. In addition the town is located on a foothill and its excellent ventilation coupled with the low humidity of the place makes an ideal location for the seasoning of the ham. These characteristics contribute to the transformation of a simple piece of dry meat into a miracle, a mix of flavours so tasty and unique in its own. And all this by using just natural ingredients.

Thanks to this unique features in fact, the “Prosciutto di San Daniele” has been recognized as a P.D.O. product (Protected Designation of Origin) by the European Union regulation, which is in fact a label for the highest quality in terms of food.

The town of San Daniele also celebrates every year, towards the end of summer, the prosciutto festival called “Aria di Festa”, an international events that attracts thousands of tourists from the neighbouring Austria, Germany and from all over the world. A tasty and enjoyable experience which is worthwhile once in a lifetime to do also considering the beauty of this medieval town.

To reach San Daniele from Venice is quite easy. Starting from Venice go to Mestre and there take the highway up to Portogruaro. Then turn left and take the A28 and in proximity to Azzano Decimo keep left and proceed to Spilimbergo and then San Daniele. The options you have once arrived in San Daniele are plenty. You can visit the nearby medieval town like Venzone, Gemona, Spilimbergo. Or proceed to the seaside in Lignano or Grado going southwards or in Croatia if you proceed eastwards. Or alternatively proceeding northwards it will be possible to enjoy the quietness and fresh air of the Dolomites Alps, for a quite rest and a nice walking.

San Daniele ham, compared to Parma ham, is darker in colour and has a sweeter taste. For this reason Prosciutto di San Daniele is best served in thin slices together with grissini (bread sticks). Highly recommended the accomplishment with yellow-fleshed melon or with figs. Both San Daniele and Parma ham are cured only with high grade sea salt, and not not contain any sort of preservatives, on the ingredient labels we should only read: pork meat and sea salt, nothing else.

Emilia Delizia is able to organise San Daniele ham tours for interested parties. The tour include a detailed visit of one ham producer followed by a gourmet lunch with generous tasting of the local ham paired with wine. Visiting the producers requires advance bookings  and the tour can be organised according to your requirements. We can  transform your holiday in a memorable time.