Lardo di Colonnata: an Italian delicacy 10

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In this day and age of healthy eating and weight watching, the last thing most of us would think of ingesting is lard. But there is a small Italian town in the Apuan Alps where lard is revered.


Colonnata is a hamlet or “frazione” of Carrara, established in 40 BC. Its name comes from the fact that it was born as a colony and inhabited by quarry workers. In the middle of town is a memorial (made of marble of course) dedicated to these workers.  I’m not sure what the population was those thousands of years ago, but today it’s about 300.

Lardo di colonnata

In this village, lardo, like other Italian delicacies, is made with few ingredients and a lot of love and pride. Fatbacks are layered with salt, rosemary, garlic and other herbs and spices and cured for months in tubs, called “conca”, made of – you guessed it – local marble. They’ve been making it this way since Roman times.  


Years ago it was considered a peasant food in Italy and was prepared into sandwiches by cutting it into thin slices and serving it with tomato on rustic bread. Quarrymen would eat it for lunch as it helped give them the energy needed to work long hours in the marble quarries. Whether it’s legend or reality, it is said that ounce per ounce it is lower in cholesterol than butter and has fewer calories than olive oil.


These days, food lovers from all over the world flock to this tiny town to discover this fatty antipasto. Stateside, it is served by some of the best chefs, including Mario Batali, who serves it on a pizza at Otto’s.


On our last trip there, it was difficult to decide which larderia to visit since there are so many to choose from.  We tasted it on its own with bread and also tried it cooked, first wrapping it around a pork loin.  Both were good but definitely not for everyone, or as some would say, an acquired taste.

Lardo di colonnata

Every year Colonnata plays host to the Festa del Lardo di Colonnata. Sagre and feste are festivals or parties held in towns and villages and are usually based around one theme, often food related.  The Festa del Lardo di Colonnata is usually held at the end of August.


Have you tried Lardo? If not, would you try it?


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About Nat and Tim Harris

Together for close to a quarter of a century, A Cook Not Mad‘s Tim and Nat have indulged their passion for life and experience to the fullest, but they feel most alive when traveling, cooking and eating. An award winning chef, Tim has dedicated his life and career to cooking and the pursuit of honest food. As a professional photographer, Nat records their adventures with incredible pictures of everyday life and the extraordinary. They believe that everyone should get to know a culture by learning about the foods they eat and living like locals as much as they can.

10 thoughts on “Lardo di Colonnata: an Italian delicacy

  • Travel&Lust

    Lardo di Colonnata (cured lard) for a meaty sandwich any time of the day! We like to slice it very thinly and serve it on warm slices of toasted bread as an antipasto. 😉

  • Kemkem

    My husband used to tell me about it when we lived in the States, and l was always saying ” not gonna happen!”. Then his mom visited from Rome and brought some. I like it. I love it best on warm toasted bread, sliced very thinly. Yummy!!!

  • Jenny

    I have not tried lardo, but I was at a Polish restaurant once with my brother where they brought out some bread and a little pot of something for the table. I spread what was in the pot on my bread and knew immediately that it was lard, but it actually tasted pretty good. My brother also slathered some on a piece of bread and after eating it, promptly started spreading more on a fresh slice. “You really like that lard” I said to him. To which he scoffed “this isn’t lard, it’s a vegetable spread!” I watched him devour the whole pot of it in a few minutes and when the waitress came to take our order my brother said to her “could we get more of this vegetable spread?” emphasizing the words for my benefit. “Oh, you mean the lard?” she asked “i’ll bring some right over.”

  • Grant

    In the UK “dripping” was popular up until the 1980s – basically the fat that’s been rendered off the meat while it’s been roasted and then set at room temperature. Spread on bread. It’s not very hygienic though – you just keep adding to the same pot each time you roast a new piece of meat, parts of it end up being years old.

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