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Prosciutto di San Daniele, celebrated and loved worldwide, represents a true Italian culinary delicacy, capable of seducing even the most discerning palates with its unmistakeable, unique taste. But what are the secrets behind this prosciutto? Other than the meticulous care taken when selecting the raw materials and the traditional processing technique handed down over the centuries, a crucial element that contributes to its extraordinary quality is the special microclimate of San Daniele del Friuli.

Imagine a town nestled between the hills of Friuli-Venezia Giulia, where the warm currents of the Adriatic Sea meet the cold currents of the Carnic Alps. And it is precisely there, San Daniele del Friuli, which has become the “Town of Prosciutto”, thanks to its unique environmental conditions which cannot be reproduced elsewhere, and which are confined to this specific geographic setting. The moment you cross San Daniele del Friuli’s threshold, you are enveloped by a light breeze which embraces this charming town. This gentle but constant ventilation plays a crucial role in the ageing process of San Daniele PDO, helping to give it those distinctive aromatic traits that make it so loved.

The meeting of the winds

San Daniele del Friuli guards a precious secret in the heart of its territory: the unique microclimate that makes the creation of Prosciutto di San Daniele possible. This special microclimate is the result of a harmonious intertwining of winds blowing from opposite directions, who’s coming together breathes life into the ideal environmental conditions for maturing this delicious product.

The Carnic Alps, which stand to the north of San Daniele del Friuli, send currents of fresh, invigorating air which mix with the warm air coming from the Adriatic Sea. The Tagliamento river, with its crystal-clear waters which flow nearby the town, work as a natural thermoregulator, further regulating the temperature and helping to maintain a constant air humidity. This unique combination of natural elements creates a perfect equilibrium, ideal for the ageing process.

The Tagliamento river

The Tagliamento, known also as “the king of the Alpine rivers”, not only offers a natural spectacle of extraordinary beauty, but also plays a key role in the production of Prosciutto di San Daniele.

With its source at the Mauria Pass, over 1,000 metres above sea level, the Tagliamento makes a long journey of 178 kilometres through Friulan lands, it wends its way from Carnia until it reaches the village of San Daniele del Friuli before flowing quickly down towards the Adriatic Sea, connecting sea and mountain along its route. The river stands as a valuable and unspoilt ecosystem, the last big, morphologically-intact, Alpine river corridor in Central Europe.

But what is the link between the Tagliamento river and Prosciutto di San Daniele? The river acts as a natural corridor for the path of the winds that meet precisely at San Daniele and create a unique ventilation that cannot be reproduced elsewhere. Furthermore, the Tagliamento acts as a natural thermoregulator, maintaining a constant air humidity and creating the ideal conditions for the correct ageing of the product. It is the blend of the region’s characteristics and the unique microclimate generated by the river which give Prosciutto di San Daniele its distinctive flavour and extraordinary quality.

Pork legs, salt and the microclimate of San Daniele del Friuli: three ingredients for the perfect taste

The microclimate of San Daniele del Friuli is therefore one of the three main ingredients of Prosciutto di San Daniele. Without it, the production process would not be complete, nor would the end result be the same. That is why all the producers of Prosciutto di San Daniele PDO must only be based in San Daniele del Friuli.

The pork legs selected are the first “ingredient” in Prosciutto di San Daniele. The pork legs come from pigs born and raised entirely in Italy, in a geographic area delimited to the ten regions in the Centre North, on certified and regulated farms. The quality of the pork legs is guaranteed by specific provisions in the Product Specification (which stipulates breed, characteristics, and diet), stringent checks and careful selection which ensure the highest quality and traceability. The other ingredient that comes into play is the salt, which is strictly sea salt and is applied dry. Again, this is an Italian raw material, sourced from the Central-Southern area of the Boot. The sea salt helps with its natural preservation, without the addition of additives or chemical substances, and stimulates the process of liquid loss, thus drying out the meat.

Prosciutto di San Daniele is, therefore, the culmination of a perfect balance between tradition, quality and the environment.

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