Cured meats are part of Italian culture. Italians call them affettati (cold cuts) and they are purchased in a salumeria, which is an italian delicatessen specializing in cured meats. That said, local large chain supermarkets also have an extraordinary array of cured meat products in comparison to Australia. You will also find them at local street markets made by local farmers.
When I was in Padova in the Veneto region, I found an artisanal delicatessen inside the Palazzo della Ragione. This multi-level building dates back to the 12th century and had a civic function on its upper floor and food vendors on the ground floor.
On either side of this ancient building are piazzas – Piazza delle Erbe (that traditionally sold vegetables) on one side and Piazza Della Frutta (that sold fruit) on the other. The ground floor still has food vendors as well as a number of bars and it is known as Sotto il Salone (under the salon). The piazzas also still serve as fresh produce markets as well as a more general market. I found the incredible Salumeria A. Borsetto on the ground floor of the palazzo (link is in Italian).
The owner, Rino, was literally surrounded by every type of cured meat you can imagine. Prosciutto, salame, culatella, speck, bresaola from a huge variety of animals – beef, pork, lamb, duck, venison – from many parts of Italy. He kindly allowed me to taste a number of products – though clearly due to the number, I couldn’t try many. I was particularly impressed with la carne secca del Friuli (dried beef from the Friuli region in northeast Italy) which he told me is cured with many alpine herbs for 20 days and lightly smoked. It was delicious as was the prosciutto di cervo (venison).
Each of the cured meats has a lovely hand written label. Some even have suggestions on how it should be served. For example (translated into English)
Carne secca del Friuli
(Dried beef from Friuli)
Prized cut of round eye from alpine beef; aged and lightly smoked with precious wood chips. Excellent to eat as a single dish with slivers of smoked ricotta and a dash of good quality oil.
Puro salame bovino (Pure beef salami)
A specialty. Excellent with a dash of olive oil, fresh onion and butter on toasted bread.
Rino was very friendly and more than happy to smile for photos. You can find his fantastic salumeria at the address below.
Salumeria A. Borsetto
Sotto il Salone, 41
And whilst you are in Padova, you might as well take some time to visit this historic university town which is filled with portici (arches). It really is beautiful. Be sure to see La chiesa di Sant’Antonio (St Anthony’s church – he is the patron saint) and vist the Cappella degli Scrovegni, a private chapel with incredibly preserved frescoes.