With its elongated face, black hair and a white stripe running all around its chest, the Cinta Senese (meaning belted from Siena) is the only Tuscan swine breed surviving to extinction. It is a very ancient breed: the oldest farmers remembre breeding it since forever and it is well recognizable in the Fourteeth century ‘Buon Governo’ (good rule) fresco by Ambrogio Lorenzetti, in the Sala della Pace in Siena’s Palazzo Comunale. Lorenzetti’s Cinto has changed with the passing of centuries: now it is bigger in size and its ears are no longer small and straight, but reversed on its eyes. It has certainly be influenced by other breeds, such as the wild boar and neighboring Maremmana (or Macchiaiola). Moreover, the plains of senese Maremma have been the arriving and passing point for transhumant livestock coming from Appennino Tosco-Emiliano, Emilia, Garfagnana, the Papal State and even the Kingdom of Naples; this representing a strong chance of cross-breeding. Only in the 1900s a breed selection was started, resulting, in 1934, in the creation of the first genealogic book, held by the mobile professorship of Agriculture of Siena.Like all of the ancient breeds it is very rustic, ideal for wild or semi-wild breeding: today, as it used to do in the past, it grazes freely in the pastures, stubbles and oak and holm oak woods, mainly feeding on herbs and acorns.On the table, Cinta Senese is characterized by its evenly fat-veined meat, while usually fat and lean parts are neatly separated. This gives it an extraordinary taste and scent, due to its wild or semi-wild breeding. With its different parts are prepared all of the cured meat products of Tuscany: lard, rift, gotino (also known as guanciale), ham, salami, capocollo and so on. All of them should be matched with ‘sciocco’ (meaning unsalted) Tuscan bread and tannic, full-bodied red wines.Cinta Senese is now bred all over Tuscany.
Image: © Michele Spinapolice