Bresaola della Valtellina is salted and slightly aged beef that is can be eaten raw. It is cylindrical in shape, dark red in color with a delicate aroma and moderately savory taste. It is produced in the province of Sondrio, in Lombardy and was given IGP – Protected Geographical Indication – in 1996. Bresaola has been produced in Valtellina, and other alpine towns, since the early Middle Ages.
There are historical documents, including a book written by Lupi in1498, that describe the purchase of meat and salt for making bresaola or local consumption. The process of salting and aging the meat is similar to the method followed in the Graubünden canton of Switzerland, where the meat was cooled by the winds of Engadin valley coming down from the Spluga pass.
The word “bresaola” may come from the Latin word “brasaula”, or salted, grilled meat, because the initial phase of drying the salted meat occurred in rooms heated by wood fire. It may also derive from the terms “bre” and “sal,” literally carne salata di cervo (salted dear meat), which was popular throughout the entire alpine region and later replaced with beef. In the 19th century, an industry was born out of making bresaola in Chiavenna and spread beyond the Valtellina valley all the way to Switzerland. Bresaola reached Lombardy in 1930 (due to the expansion of the industry to various cities in Valtellina) and only since the Sixties did it reach the rest of Italy and Switzerland.