This article first appeared in the October 2012 issue of the award-winning subscription travel newsletter Dream of Italy
By Walter Sanders
Daniele Baruffaldi is a man’s man: bald, barrel-chested and strong. He’s as quick to laugh as he is to roar. Daniele is one of only 60 farmers certified to breed and raise the famed cinta Senese pigs. Cinta refers to the white “belt” marking around the shoulders of their otherwise black bodies. Senese means from Siena. This noble breed has deep roots. It is identifiable in Ambrogio Lorenzetti’s 1348 fresco “Effects of Good Government in the Country” still viewable in Siena’s Palazzo Communale.
The breed became nearly extinct over the last 40 years when Italian farmers imported the large white breed from the United Kingdom. These hogs grew to maturity quicker and produced leaner meat which was in marketing vogue at the time. The large white was crossbred with the cinta Senese to produce the grigio Senese. It made economic sense: faster growing meant less feed, quicker to market, leaner. “But it doesn’t have the flavor of cinta Senese,” declared Daniele.
Before long, the global population of pure-bred cinta Senese had been, according to Daniele, reduced to only two males and 20 females.