Coppa Piacentina is produced in the Arda Valley near Piacenza. It is made with a big, round cut of pork that runs from where the shoulder meets the neck to the fifth-sixth rib of the carré. The meat is aged between six months to a year and can be found stuffed into a pork casing or beef intestine. This salume comes from a family tradition passed down in country farmhouses where it was considered a very special product, to be eaten on holidays or important events.
Many years ago in the countryside, coppa was actually used as a sort of bonus: landowners would offer sliced of coppa to their workers to encourage them to work more. There are written descriptions of coppa made in the Nure and Trebbia Valleys from 1800. At the time, coppa was known as bondiola, that, according to Napoleonic sources was “a cut of pork cured with about 11g of salt, 39g of pepper, 13g of cinnamon powder, 6g of sugarcane and 6g of cloves for each piece, wrapped in pork fat and tied tightly”. In a different document written in 1859 having to do with the center of Bobbio, high in the Apennines, it says “in this area, pork meat much more flavorful than elsewhere, and the so-called Coppa di Bobbie is so prized that it is shipped of as gifts in far away countries. I believe that this is due to the grain, the fruit and the vegetables in general that the animals fed on and that make them more flavorful and aromatic”.
Coppa piacentina became a DOP (Protected Denomination of Origin) product in 1996 and can be made exclusively in the area of the province of Piacenza less then 3,000 ft above sea level. The most important places for aging the meat are Pianello Val Tidone, Bettola, Carpaneto Piacentino, Gragnano Trebbiense and Lugagnano Val d'Arda.