In this tale “in installments”dedicated to the history of Prosciutto di San Daniele, started from afar at the time of Celts and Romans, we can’t talk about its origins without retracing the events of its hometown, San Daniele del Friuli.
The birth of San Daniele del Friuli
The origins of San Daniele del Friuli aren’t very clear. The archeological discoveries prove the presence of Roman settlements in the area but don’t determine exactly the period.
During the Longobard domination San Daniele del Friuli was a land of conflict between Longobards and Bavarians. It was later annexed to the Parliament of Udine by the Patriarch Popone (1036).
From the very beginning it was known for being strongly comercially oriented: San Daniele del Friuli became a public market in 1139 and even became the most important one of Friuli-Venezia Giulia after Aquileia and Cividale.
Between the 14th and the 15th centuries the city experienced occupations and conquests, it was disputed between the people of Udine and Gorizia, without ever achieving peace, because of its position along the route of the Venetian troops.
During the 15th century the territory of San Daniele del Friuli found itself in a delicate position: it was the battleground of the war between Venice and the Patriarchy of Aquileia. The community of the Friulian village sided officially with Aquileia and provided it with resources and men, but, as it also had important business interests connected to Venice, it tried with its hospitality and products to curry favour with both sides.
1400, prosciutto as a gift
In 1420 San Daniele del Friuli was annexed to the Republic of Venice, later becoming, together with Aquileia and San Vito, patriarchal fief: an event that led to the growth and development of the local community.
During that period in Friuli it was customary for the representatives of the Republic of Venice to visit officially the communities, which offered gifts as a sign of obedience and respect. Among these was also the population of San Daniele del Friuli, which, since that time, began giving notable guests some legs of prosciutto, which was already back then a a valuable and delicious food.
So, even though for most the Middle Ages were a “dark” period, the same cannot be said for San Daniele del Friuli, which had during those years a remarkable artistic and literary development. In this period the church of Sant’Antonio Abate was actually built, more specifically in 1441, and it is currently one of the must-see monuments when visiting the Friulian town. Inside this church you can admire Pellegrino da San Daniele’s precious frescoes, painted between 1498 and 1522.
An “unconquerable” commercially-oriented town
Between1470 and 1480 San Daniele del Friuli faced alone the Ottoman threat. The community of San Daniele had to fight the Turkish invader and on the other hand had to cope with the pressures of Venice which would have liked to turn it into a military fortress.
But San Daniele del Friuli had become an important and thriving business center and, to protect its position as a free market, decided to have a neutral and diplomatic policy. It settled once more on its “weapon of persuasion” of excellence , the ‘persutto’, that was offered to all the politics and military who, given the strategic geographical location, happened to pass by the Friulian town.
But the history of San Daniele del Friuli and of its outstanding prosciutto is full of other exciting events, all of which to be revealed. What happens next? We are going to tell you in the next article!