There are two main functions of life: the nutrition and propagation of the species. PELLEGRINO ARTUSI
Whoever happened to be in Florence, even if just passing through, will certainly have noticed a perennial aroma of boiled meat and spices in the air, something very similar to a well-made broth or to any particularly tasty dish. That inviting odor comes from the various itinerant quays and kiosks, present almost everywhere in the city, both in the center and in the most peripheral areas, sellers of that very particular typically Florentine specialty known as lampredotto which, like tripe and porchetta, is especially used to fill freshly prepared sandwiches, which are usually accompanied by a good glass of red wine or a nice cold beer. At these kiosks, as well as in any city delicatessen, it is possible to find another very particular, and equally tasty, specialty with which to fill a sandwich or a nice square of crushed oil for a quick but dense, exquisitely regional lunch.
If it is true that you cannot visit Naples and do not taste the Babà drowned in rum, or Bologna without having eaten the typical piadina with mortadella with a small glass of Lambrusco, it is equally true that you cannot visit Florence and not taste its most noble specialty with a curious name and, like most Tuscan things, witty: the finocchiona (this is obviously not true for those who are vegetarian, but can be consoled with a nice dish of boiling ribollita and the typical tomato bruschetta). Finocchiona is a sausage, a kind of salami, prepared with minced pork, flavored with fennel seeds (by virtue of which it takes its name), and dipped in red wine. Like most long-seasoned cured meats, the belly and shoulder of the pig are also preferred for the preparation of finocchiona; the peculiarity compared to the others is that for the finocchiona, fennel seeds are introduced into the dough instead of pepper. This habit was introduced by the Tuscans, probably between the 14th and 15th centuries, to replace the pepper, which was far more expensive.
Although the production of finocchiona has now extended throughout Italy, from north to south, and even abroad in some specialized delicatessens, the real finocchiona, like all the dishes symbolizing a given territory, can only be tasted in Tuscany. There is also a variant of finocchiona, prepared with a coarser and shorter cured dough, more commonly known as sbriciolona due to its tendency to crumble, which is why it must be cut into larger slices than normal. Its origin probably dates back to the Renaissance and the late Middle Ages, when the living conditions of the people, aroused by the long medieval coma that had crushed them for decades in a suffocating grip of famine, epidemics and religious fears superstitious, they were gradually improving.
It is in this period that, with the resumption of trade and cultural exchanges between peoples, the pleasure for the beautiful aspects of life is rediscovered, from the arts, to sciences and, of course, to cuisine and good food. The Italians, needless to deny it, have always distinguished themselves for their love and almost obsessive attention to cooking, to the point that “feeling good” or “living well” in Italy almost essentially means “eating well”. Undoubtedly the long years of deep famines will have accentuated this desire, literally stimulating the appetite of many, especially those who belonged to the weakest and most disadvantaged classes accustomed to deprivation.
If in the city the artistic, craft and cultural activities, thanks to the rapid spread of universities and workshops where it was possible to learn a trade, they suffered a strong invasion by students and intellectuals from all over the world, the campaigns nevertheless, in this period, magically returned to flourish and produce basic necessities, then sold in the city markets and merchants who did their utmost to export them, enriching both themselves and those who had produced them.
The Tuscan breeders had pig-filled fences, which thanks to the improvement of living conditions it is easy to imagine that they increased in number and consistency, and the fields abounded in vegetables, fruit and cereals.
The preparation of pork to be converted into salami would not have been a problem if the pepper, which like most spices was bought in the East, had not yet had such high costs, not accessible to all. Peasants, breeders and butchers therefore had to make do and provide for themselves to devise some equally effective surrogate. And just like all great inventions and discoveries, which happened by chance and against all expectations, the result far surpassed their most optimistic hope. Born in the countryside adjacent to Florence, especially in the areas of Greve in Chianti and Campi Bisenzio, and produced in larger forms than those of classic salami, soon the finocchiona spread throughout Tuscany and, later, also in Italy.
Niccolò Machiavelli himself, a well-known gourmet as well as an enlightened man of letters, praises in this way in his writings this particular salami so strongly tasty, testifying to the impact that his birth had on the population of the time and the success with which it came welcomed. In June 2013 an application was submitted for registration of finocchiona in the register of geographical indications protected at European level. In April last year, finocchiona received its deserved recognition as an IGP product.