Chillemi guanciale what is it

Italian bacon: the secret star of the meat counter

Bacon is an underrated dish: too fat and too unhealthy is the specialty of pork loin and belly, it is often said in our health-turbulent times. That may be true, but as is so often the case, it depends on the amount. We shouldn't overdo it with the bacon. Enjoyed every now and then the taste of a nice piece of Italian bacon is a first-class culinary delight! We briefly introduce the best-known (and most delicious) types of Italian bacon.

What is bacon anyway?

In general, three types of bacon can be distinguished, depending on the part of the pork from which they come:

  • Pork belly: streaky meat; is cooked, cured or smoked and then often offered as cold cuts or bacon.
  • Saddle of pork: also called fat or fresh bacon; usually consists of pure adipose tissue. Known raw and unsmoked as “green bacon”, it is also offered cooked, cured or smoked. Often used for spitting or wrapping lean meat.
  • Leg of pork: so-called bacon; actually belongs to the genus ham, but has a high fat content.

Italian bacon: There are these varieties


And the first exception to the types of bacon listed above: The guanciale is made from the pork cheek (from “guancia”, in English “cheek”). This Italian bacon originally comes from the central Italian region of Latium, which is also located in Rome.

The Guanciale is an air-dried, streaky bacon with one or more layers of lean meat in the middle. The taste is strong, a result of the many spices used in its manufacture. Diced and sautéed guanciale, for example, provides the seasoning for one of Italy's most famous pasta dishes, the spaghetti alla carbonara.


Lardo is called Bacon in Italian, it is made from the mature and fat back fat of country pigs, which are significantly fatter than normal fattening pigs. This specialty has been around since ancient times and has two particularly well-known characteristics:

The Lardo di Colonnata comes from the mountain village of the same name in Tuscany, where white marble, the famous Carrara marble, is quarried in large quarries. Accordingly, the Lardo di Colonnata also matures in marble vessels. The taste is slightly sweet and has a nutty note.

  • Vallée d’Aoste Lard d’Arnad

The Vallée d’Aoste Lard d’Arnad comes from Arnad, a small community in the Aosta Valley. In contrast to the Lardo di Colonnata, this variant matures in barrels made of chestnut and oak, the "doils". The fine taste is strongly influenced by the spices used such as garlic, rosemary, bay leaf and sage.


The Italian pancetta pancetta is the air-dried boot variant of German pork belly bacon. Almost every region of Italy has its own variant of pancetta, but what almost all have in common is that it is not smoked and therefore develops a particularly mild taste. Commonly used spices for the pancetta are garlic, rosemary, fennel and nutmeg. The two best-known types of pancetta are called:

This type of pancetta from Calabria is - like so many specialties from the region - spicy: Before the bacon dries in the air, it is rubbed with chilli.

The Pancetta Piacentina comes from Piacenza, a province in the northern Italian region of Emilia Romagna. In addition to salt and pepper, sugar and cloves serve as spices.

South Tyrolean bacon

South Tyrolean bacon, known simply as “bacon” in Italy, is a mildly smoked raw ham that combines the two production methods of bacon: As is customary in Northern Europe, it is first lightly smoked, whereby the smoking temperature must not exceed 20 degrees. Then it dries in the air for at least 22 weeks. This creates a layer of mold that gives the finished South Tyrolean bacon a slightly nutty taste. If you want to try the specialty on site: Every autumn the South Tyrolean Speck Festival takes place in the Funes Valley - with markets, music and lots of speck tastings. You don't have to drive that far to the next Andronaco branch, where we always have fresh Italian bacon ready for you at the Salumeria counter!

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