The town of Venticano in the Province of Avellino is the home of Vittorio Ciarcia, which since 1930 has created a wide variety of cured meats “Irpinia Style,” including prosciutto and culatello, among others.
According to their website, Vittorio’s great-grandfather, Nicola, who lived around the end of the nineteenth century, used to visit marketplaces throughout Irpinia and purchase pork that was raised by local farmers. Nicola would then salt and cure the pork he bought to produce prosciutto and other cured meats typical of the area.
Ciarcia now produces these typical regional meats for its customers, still using the same methods created by Nicola more than 100 years ago.
One of Ciarcia’s offerings includes “Culatello irpino.” Culatello is actually a specialty of the city of Zibello, located in the Province of Parma in the Emilia-Romagna Region, and it is made with the muscular part of the hind leg of pigs that were born, raised and slaughtered exclusively in Emilia-Romagna and Lombardia. Ciarcia takes this tradition and puts its own Irpinian spin on it.
Praised by food critics, the “Goccia Irpina” comes from pigs raised traditionally in Irpinia. Produced in limited quantity, Goccia Irpina only uses Italian sea salt to cure it and the curing process takes 14 months. This melt-in-your-mouth meat is of a bright red color with streaks of white fat and the taste lingers on the palate.
While food from Northern and Central Italy often gets the most notice, perhaps it is time to try something different. While Ciarcia’s offerings may be difficult to find in the United States outside of Italian specialty stores, they are certainly worth a taste and deserving of their place among Italy’s finest foods.