Cicitt are a long thin traditional goat sausage unique to the Locarno valleys in southern Switzerland’s Ticino Canton. Made from the meat, fat, hearts and intestines of local animals in late autumn, the sausage was most likely first created in Cavergno, a tiny village in the high Maggia Valley. Two of the few remaining producers can be found here and the local culture is still strongly linked to the Cicitt, with the annual festival of the Immaculate Conception called Festa del Cicitt.
The history of the Cicitt is closely linked to the history of goat farming in the two Locarno valleys – Maggia and Verzasca. The animals were once known as "the cows of the poor" and almost every family kept some goats. Descriptions of the region from the 1950s indicate that they were in fact very widely kept domestically: "The villages were teeming with goats. They were all over the place, even on the roofs of the houses." Most houses organized the mazza minore each November – the days dedicated to the slaughter of their goats and the production of Cicitt sausages.
The first commercial production of the Cicitt appears to have been by the Dadò family from Cavergno at the beginning of the 20th century. During the winter season Giovanni Dadò produced the sausages with the assistance of his seven sons and a few employees. As production grew, Dadò started buying goats all year long from across the valley and as far as Locarno. Up to thirty goats were processed into sausages per day during the Cicitt season. During World War I production reached an "industrial" level and the sausages were sold across all of Switzerland.
In his book about life in Maggia Valley, local author Plinio Marini remembers the intense odor of Cicitt wafting out of the post offices during the production season due to the numerous packages being sent around the country. The Dadò family stopped their Cicitt production in the 1950s. This marked the beginning of a steady decline of production all over the region. Today goats have lost their importance in the valleys’ local economies. There are still breeders in both valleys, and the demand for goat’s milk is quite high, but there are far too few "end of career" goats to produce a significant amount of Cicitt.
Cicitt are dark brown in color and are typically roasted over an open fire. They have a strong goat flavor and aroma that is tempered perfectly by the contribution of spice, smoke and roasted notes.
To try and appease the pallet of modern consumers, butchers started to add pork fat or meat to the sausages to give them a subtler goat flavor. The Presidium project has been created to ensure the continued production of Cicitt in the traditional manner. In this way, consumers can choose between the true Cicitt - made with goat meat and fat in the Locarno valleys from animals raised in the Canton Ticino - or other sausages that may be produced locally and have their own good qualities, but are certainly not Cicitt. The Presidium brings together producers from the Locarno valleys who are proactively working to promote the traditional Cicitt sausage, increase farming of local goat breeds and support the construction of a slaughterhouse that would mean farmers could slaughter their animals locally.
Locarnese Valleys, Ticino Canton
Presidium supported by
Locarno Valleys Cicitt Producers Association
tel. +41 79 413 75 80
6694 Prato Sornico
Mariapia e Gabriele Giottonini
Az. la Ghironda,
Renzo Boschetti e Matteo Minotti
Nuova Macelleria Tonini
Via Principale 48
tel. +41 917541427/79 230 0754
Franco e Boris Zanoli
tel. +41 7531047