My husband and I visited Prosciuttificio Fontana during the Prosciutto Festival in the pretty medieval town of Montagnana. I was expecting something like a factory. Far from it. It is a beautiful building, a few steps from the walls of the town. Unlike the other ham factories of the Consortium they only produce prosciutto (that is raw ham). The Italian Prosciutto produced here is one of the best I ever tasted.
We (and other visitors) were greeted and escorted by the owner, Attilio Fontana. His Prosciuttificio (Prosciutto Factory) is a family business, run by him and his two brothers. The company was founded in 1919 by their grandfather, who started as a simple apprentice in a delicatessen of the town centre (still existing, but now it is a bar-tavern). The resourceful grandfather took over and began to make prosciutto. In 1926 the company became bigger and since then it is located in Via Campana.
The first thing that Attilio Fontana suggested is to always pay attention when we buy prosciutto. To be authentic it has to be called Prosciutto Veneto Berico Euganeo DOP and have: the Consortium branding (the Lion of St. Mark and the Veneto writing) with the identification number of the prosciutto factory, the label of the Prosciuttificio (in this case Attilio Fontana one, with his yellow and green colours) and the CE mark (Dop in Italy, i.e. PDO).
The Consortium includes a series of procedures and strict controls on the entire production process to ensure that the origin and quality of the product are protected, and so are consumers.
Fontana explained to us that he pays something more to have a early delivery of the legs to have maximum freshness and to have the opportunity to make the first choice. After the choice, they make a further selection, discarding about 20% of the product because it is not consistent with their philosophy.
Did you know that…
- The only preservative in this Italian prosciutto is salt. Over time the producers reduced it of a 20%. In order to this they increased the seasoning time from 12 to 18 months (to guarantee the flavour). Fontana uses salt of Sicily. There is no waste because this salt, after the seasoning of the legs, is reused. For example in the streets when it snows or for the fishing industry.
- For the stucco (a layer which protects the product), Fontana once used regular flour, but now he uses rice flour so his prosciutto is now suitable for celiacs.
- The prosciutto is also appropriate for diets, because his fat loses about 80% of the cholesterol.
- In order to check the prosciutto legs, the inspectors use a particular tool, a horse shin bone. Yes!! He inserts the bone into five (one at a time) definite points of each leg and then he extracts the bone so to smell it. The inspector, only by smelling, knows if the prosciutto is good or not. The distinctive trait of the shin bone is that it resets itself form the scent, so that each time the inspector insert it into another point there is no trace of the previous point’s aroma. It’s really odd! They tried to find another instrument, more modern and made by plastic or something, but so far there has been no good result.
I must say that I noticed the extreme cleanliness of the areas and the modernity of machinery. But above all I strongly sensed and appreciated the passion and, even more, the seriousness and integrity of this man in doing his job. I was very happy to visit this place and I can surely say that this Prosciuttificio is a little great Italian excellence.
Italian prosciutto tasting
After the visit I went to lunch and to visit Montagnana. Then I came back to the Prosciuttificio to buy a piece of ham (you can see the opening hour in the toggle box below the post). Well, my husband, his family and I ate it at dinner (my father-in-law owns a slicer). Everybody was enthusiast: it was delicious and very sweet. It was a pleasant and happy dinner. If you want to learn more, read my post regarding prosciutto Veneto dop.
via Campana, 8 – Montagnana (PD)
You can buy the prosciutto directly at the factory.
Monday to Friday 8 – 12 am and 2 – 6 pm
Saturday morning 8 – 12 am