Perched high above Carrara, amongst the marble quarries of the Alpe Apuane, lies the tiny village of Colonnata, known these days for production of Lardo di Colonnata, slabs of cured, spiced pig fat.
Thirty years ago there wasn’t a road to Colonnata. Nowdays you can reach the village easily, and on Sundays the little parking lot is full of tourists seeking out the ancient Lardo at its base of production. On your way back to Carrara you can pass through a one way, dead straight tunnel through the mountain with marble trucks on your tail, a thrill for all involved, I imagine.
In any case, the very idea of eating raw pig fat may very well scare you off. But you won’t find stacks of dead bodies on the road, I swear. So, if you’re anywhere in the Lunigiana, I implore you carnivores to at least try some. The best of it has a great mouth feel, its pillowy softness dissolves in the mouth, leaving hints of the spices used in the curing process to dance on the tongue.
Lardo has been around as long as documentation has existed, mostly because it was a great source of energy for impoverished quarry workers. During Roman times it was considered a health food. The curing process takes place in tubs of marble of a type that can’t be used by for sculpture but is perfect for the curing of lardo.
Poverty and conservative use of resources—the great catalysts for most of the world’s classic good eats.
Get more info on Lardo from your friend in Tuscany. This is the best article I’ve read about Lardo, its history and production, and what the EU did to try to end it (shame on them!)
The picture below is of the quarries above the rooftops of Colonnata. For more, see Colonnata pictures from Europe for Visitors.