S Daniele Prosciutto / by Marco Secchi

In the pre-Roman era, San Daniele del Friuli was an important Celtic settlement, thanks to its special position en route to Northeast Europe. The surrounding area contains the remains of various “castellieri”, the typical Celtic constructions used as watchtowers.

The Celts, a relatively non-migratory people, devoted to agriculture and with minimal warlike tendencies, were the first to use salt to preserve pork, of which they were major consumers. They built the foundations of the extraordinary rural culture which the Romans put to expert use later on.

In the era following that of the Celts, the oldest San Daniele settlement is Roman, from the 1st century AC: a villa positioned right on the summit of the hill.

The Romans were very familiar with ham: evidence of this can be found in the ancient merchants’ road to Rome, the present Via Panisperna, named after “panis” (bread) and “perna” (“perna sicca”: ham), and in a butcher’s memorial stone found in Aquileia (UD), which boasts a Prosciutto di San Daniele complete with trotter.

Fast forwards to the 1920 the first ham factories were established: the domestic cellar was transformed into the centre of a true autonomous production activity. At the end of the 40s, the ham factory had become an industry, and from the 60s its development resulted in some of the production companies contributing to the formation of the national and international prosciutto crudo market.