Posted by: debrakolkka | July 2, 2010

Lardo di Colonnata

In delis all over Italy you will find white slabs of something lined up beside the salami and prosciutto.  These slabs are pig fat – lardo di Colonnata.  Don’t be afraid to try it.  Thinly sliced on toasted bread it is delicious.

Lardo di Colonnata is produced – and  don’t think you will be surprised here – in Colonnata, a tiny village  high in the marble filled mountains behind Cararra.

Centuries ago the residents of Colonnata kept pigs.  To preserve the fat, over the winter months it was salted and left in cool crevices in the marble.  This was a poor area and the lardo supplemented the diet of chestnut flour pasta and fruit and vegetables.  The process was refined over centuries and the fat was stripped of the rind, cut into rectangular slices and layered with sea salt, pepper, rosemary, garlic and other locally grown herbs.  The seasoned fat was stored in marble urns, where it was left for 6 – 10 months to cure.   These days the pigs are reared somewhere else but the making of lardo remains the same.

The village of Colonnata is worth a visit. It is 550 metres above sea level in the foothills of the Apuane Alps, not far from Cararra.  On the way it is possible to visit the cave from where Michelangelo took the marble to create his David.  There is an excellent museum outside the cave where you can see how the marble was dragged from these mountains, and how the people who did the work lived.  It must have been a tough, dangerous life for these hardy people.  It will make you appreciate even more the beautiful sculptures and marble floors you will see on your Italian travels.

the marble filled mountains around Colonnata

marble statue in the village of Colonnata


  1. Italian are amazing they have art and sculpture even in their most remote villages!
    I had no idea that Michael Angelo went so far to find the marble stones to make David.
    Carrying the stones must have been hard, it reminded me of the Pyramids…and how hard people worked for art and to create exceptional things.
    I have to visit Colonnata if I go back to Italy again!

    Thanks Debra.

  2. What a tease you are about the lardo, Debra! I remember Paolo laughing at me when I showed him what I bought in a deli in Lucca. I thought it looked like something like a shiny piece of chicken that I needed to cook; but couldn’t understand the nice young Italian man at the deli trying to explain to me what to do with it. Bought it anyway to show it to Paolo, to find out how I could cook it. So, was horrified when he explained it was just pig fat! Tried it out and, yes, it has a wonderful taste when spread thinly on toast, quite different to anything I’ve tried. It’s an acquired taste, I think. Now that you’ve explained about the rosemary, garlic and herbs, I realise why it has such an unusual flavour. That’s one of the interesting things about travel, one tries something new, like lardo!
    smiles, Sandra.

  3. I have eaten this lardo and it is delicious and that comes from someone who normally slices the fat off bacon. At the Slow Food Salone in Torino the producers lugged their large heavy slabs of stone preserving containers to display how it is kept. I wish I had taken some photos of them. On the tour I took through Piemonte we had a special tasting of lardo, more than one type! Also the famous butcher of Panzano gave me some whipped lardo on saltless tuscan bread, elevates the concept of grandmothers spreading dripping on toast…

    • It took me a while to try lardo, but it is delicious, provided it is very thinly sliced. I wish I had taken photos of the museum, it was wonderful. I will have to go back.

  4. […] can see how the marble workers lived and worked. Then head up to Colonnata for some lardo. Click here for more on this […]

  5. You continue to fascinate and inform. How wonderful to share about the marble deposits (holy cow) and lardo. I may not always comment on your daily treasures but be assured they are most appreciated and delicious!! Great photos ….. as usual. Thank you for giving us all these ‘gems’.

    • Thanks! There is so much to see and do in our area I will never run out of things to talk about.

  6. It is amazing and unique thing to see. Marble on mountains!!!!! Wowwwww!!

    • It is amazing that the mountains can gradually disappear over the years.

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