The Cornigliese sheep gets its name from Corniglio, a small town in the Apennines outside Parma, where the breed has been farmed for centuries.
Large in size (the males can reach over 100 kilos), the sheep has no horns in either gender. It has long, wide ears that hang down on either side of its face. The white fleece, sometimes spotted, also covers the belly, the top part of the limbs and the front of the head. The head and the extremities of the limbs are flecked with black.
The Cornigliese breed was selected in the middle of the 18th century when the Bourbons, at the time the dukes of Parma and Piacenza, ordered that the sheep around Parma be crossed with Merinos from Spain, in order to obtain animals who could produce good-quality wool. At the start of the 20th century, the breed was crossed with Bergamasca rams to improve the meat production. Currently the Cornigliese breed is farmed in the Parma Valley, in the high hills and mountains of the Cento Laghi Regional Park. After coming close to extinction (according to the FAO, in 1994 there were barely 50 animals), it is now slowly recovering. In Parma province the population is now 1,000 strong, though this is still not enough to guarantee its survival.
Historically the breed has been farmed for its milk, meat and wool, but today it is mostly used for meat, due to its compact muscular mass, with little fat. The sheep is long-lived (up to 10 years), very fertile and hardy, and is well-suited to pasture grazing. Some flocks are still taken up into the mountains every summer.
The wool is of good quality and can be used to make sweaters, blankets, socks, carpets, bags and slippers.
The meat from the Cornigliese breed is used in various dishes, including hogget cacciatore and fried lamb chops.
The Presidium involves a small group of farmers, joined together in the Regional Association of Emilia-Romagna Livestock Farmers. The production protocol specifies extensive farming methods, seasonal migration and complete traceability along the production chain.
The Presidium producers are working with retailers to promote their meat and encouraging restaurants to offer dishes made with Cornigliese lamb or mutton.
Parma province, Emilia-Romagna region
Presidium supported by
Parchi del Ducato
Tel. +39 0521802688
Strada Selvanizza, 8
Tel. 340 0540212
Cà Mezzadri di Silvano Gerbella
Tel. 349 2205911
Agriturismo Casanuova di Emanuele Saviola
Tizzano Val Parma (Pr)
Strada di Carobbio 11
Tel. 349 1613984
Tizzano Val Parma (Pr)
Strada del Monte, 5
Tel. 333 3297200
Madonnina delle Nevi di Ettore Rio
Monchio delle Corti (Pr)
Tel. 380 5113041
Pezzarossa di Giampaolo Fornari
Neviano Degli Arduini (Pr)
Strada Case Barbieri, 4
Tel. 347 1064191
Val Bratica di Sara Simonetti
Tel. 338 1798411