The Ultimate Guide to Italian Meats

Italy is a haven for food fans. With so many classic dishes that are loved across the globe, in addition to regions producing some of the finest ingredients, we’re sure that a trip to the country will tantalise your taste buds. Recently on the Essential Italy blog, we’ve written a number of posts on what you can expect to get stuck into when visiting. From Italian cheeses to the wine regions that should be on your must-see list, you’ll have a hard time sticking to a diet when faced with the delectable offerings when on holiday.

Italian salami

Aside from parmesan and moscato, Italy is also well known for its cured meats. A stape of many dishes from the country, each has its own set of characteristics and taste-defining features that make it distinguishable from the other. Find out more about the different varieties below!



One of the most popular cured Italian meats is prosciutto. Eaten raw, each slice of prosciutto is cut so thin that it is almost transparent, and is the perfect accompaniment for a variety of different dishes and sharing platters. Prosciutto is frequently found as part of an antipasti board and is enjoyed while paired with other ingredients such as melon and figs.

So, how is prosciutto created? Using meat from the hind of a pig, it is heavily seasoned with a generous serving of salt before being left to cool in a controlled environment. This dry-curing process means that it keeps the sweet flavours while being preserved thanks to the salt that it has been left to cure in.



There are many different ways in which Italian’s create salami, with pork and beef the more traditional choices of meat to use. The sausage, which is formed by combining a mixture of fermented and air-dried meat, is often found as an alternative ingredient in some of Italy’s favourite dishes, such as a replacement for pancetta in a creamy carbonara and is popular due to its long shelf life. In fact, the cured sausage is fit for consumption for up to 40 days after being cut and can be stored at room temperature.

Salami sausages usually are heavily seasoned, a process which takes place during the curing process. A combination of garlic powder, onion powder, pepper and mustard are used most frequently, although you can opt for any flavourings of your choice.



Also known as capicola and capocollo, coppa is created from the meat from the neck or shoulder of a pig. Typically, this is soaked in a brine solution before being cured, allowing the salt to penetrate the meat before adding seasoning. Upon completion of this step, red or white wine, garlic and additional herbs and spices are used to cover the meat, encasing the pork shoulder, before being hung for several months, allowing it to absorb the flavours.

Coppa is typically used as an appetiser, but can be enjoyed in a number of different ways; incorporating it into your breakfast dishes gives you a salty kick, whereas the use of it in your favourite evening meals can provide a herby alternative.



Originating from Bologna, you won’t find this cured meat produced anywhere other than in central and northern Italy. The traditional sausage is created similarly to other cured meats on this list, with seasoning enhancing the pork meat with some mouthwatering flavours. One of the significant differences between mortadella and other cured Italian meats is that it has a smooth texture, with chunks of lard throughout. This is made possible by the method that is used to produce the sausage, which involves hashing and grinding the meat to create a creamy texture, before adding the seasoning and lard.


Are you planning to visit Italy during 2018? If so, we would love to help you arrange your dream holiday. Italy is a fantastic country with a variety of different destinations for you to visit. Whether you’re looking for a sunny seaside retreat or to be charmed by the colourful countryside, there is something for everyone. For more information about how you could spend your summer relaxing poolside in one of our luxury villas in Sicily, Sardinia or any other of the fantastic destinations that we have properties in, get in contact with the team here at Essential Italy today!

Do you have a favourite cured Italian meat? If so, let us know on our social media channels!