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This Little Piggy…

January 23, 2011

I recently received a post about wild boar season in Italy from one of my readers, Nick Garrett. He included some facts and Italian words which I didn’t know along with his personal story, which I enjoyed very much.

Crostini e Salume - Osteria del Cinghiale Bianco

Wild boar in Italian is cinghiale [cin-ghià-le] — click the link for a sound file on how to say it — and I first learned the word when I went to a little restaurant down the street from my office in Florence, a place called “Osteria del Cinghiale Bianco“, translated as the White Boar Tavern.  It is a simple restaurant situated a few hundred feet from the Ponte Vecchio in the Oltrarno, and they serve wild boar.  I usually stop in at least once when in Florence.

If you clicked the hyperlink to the sound file above, you now know that Cinghiale is a fun word to say, and I think you’ll find the animals themselves fascinating also.

Last Spring I was driving from Castello del Trebbio to Villa Campestri with Linda Sorgiovanni, a food colleague who is a sommelier and tour guide in Tuscany, when we came upon a cinghiale bianco emerging from the forest into a little clearing along the roadway.  Linda was kind enough to stop, and as the boar seemed to be no threat, being 15 meters away and on the other side of a small fence I took some photos.

The White Boar Approaches (Photo by Tagami)

I was charmed (but wary), as the curious creature approached to check us out, grunting softly and casually nosing and rooting.  He was a juvenile, and came all the way up to the fence.

White Boar Foraging (Photo by Tagami)

Tagami e cinghiale bianco

Boars in central Italy usually weigh 175 – 220 lbs (80-100 kg), but have been known to reach over 300 lbs (136 kg).  The piglets are adorable, with long horizontal stripes and sweet faces.

I’m almost sorry I started this post with a plate of salumi…

Hans Hoffmann, Wild Boar Piglet (Sus Scrofa), 1578

9 Comments leave one →
  1. January 23, 2011 1:09 AM

    cute when little … delicious when mature!!!

  2. Sandra Peterson permalink
    January 23, 2011 4:59 AM

    Thank you Liz and Nick for a great post.

    Happy New Year Liz.
    I’m looking forward to more great posts in 2011. Your photo’s are amazing! You have an eye for capturing the personality of a place. I particularly enjoyed your photo’s from the Old City in Jerusalem, and the plated foods from Israel.

    All the best,


    • January 23, 2011 12:54 PM

      Happy New Year, Sandy! Thanks for your greeting and your note — both are very much appreciated. I look forward to sharing more travel vignettes throughout the year. BTW, I’m glad you’ve met my colleagues in Bangkok; the world is indeed quite small, isn’t it? Safe travels! Liz

    • January 23, 2011 1:25 PM

      My pleasure… I was out in the mountains today and found some wild boar, rabbit and some other rather large tracks in the snow! The silence and sounds awaken something in nature… will post some photos and video soon.

  3. Sarah Chironi permalink
    January 23, 2011 7:43 AM

    Great post Liz! Those beasts can certainly reach a good 350lbs. While living in Tuscany in the 90’s my first task was to secure a section of land on the estate I was working at to prevent the cingiale from rooting it up so we could eventually use it for agriculture. It proved to be an arduous and disheartening job as we eventually realized that these animals were going over 4 ft. barbed wire fence. There was no stopping them.
    Happy New Year and I hope this email finds you well!

    • January 23, 2011 1:03 PM

      Ciao Sarah! The more I read, the more I realize that the cinghiale bianco I encountered was piccolino!

      It is thrilling to me to see the cinghiale impronte (hoof prints) and even more so to encounter one leisurely foraging in the woods. I’m sure that when responsible for securing farmland, “thrill” is probably not the word that comes to mind! Four feet of barbed wire! Gracious!

  4. Jaynet Tagami permalink
    January 23, 2011 12:47 PM

    Liz, you are not boring! This post is delightful and so original . . . the title is endearing . . . Thank you for opening up the world around us!

    • January 24, 2011 1:53 AM

      Oh, I get it. I’m not boring, I’m BOARING. hahahaha. Thanks for pointing out that you meant your opening line as a pun. I missed it at first.

  5. Chris McGee permalink
    January 25, 2011 8:08 AM

    Thanks for the post Liz, its been a while and this put a smile in my day and a hunger in my appetite.

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