Monday, June 4, 2012

Queen of the Italian Pigs, the Cinta Sensa

The breed of Cinta Sensa, a Tuscan pig, was most notably used for racing in prior times, but now the source of gourmet, pricey meat.

Toscana and Chianti News says:
you can find examples of these animals in very old paintings, in the fresco “Good Government” by Ambrogio Lorenzetti for example, on display at the Palazzo Pubblico in Siena, there is a farmer walking with his Senese pig held by a leash. This special kind of pig is also visible in paintings by Bartoli di Fredi ... also in a more recent painting by Giovanni Fattori. 
The Cinta Senese is the forefather of all the Tuscan pigs. It is almost savage and very resistant to bad weather, for these reasons it represented a secure food reserve for the farmers and their families. This type of swine grows very slowly (the slaughtering age is never less than 12 months) and this is one of the reasons to why farmers, in the past, abandoned this race in favour of races which grow much faster. The pigs are raised half wild feeding in the woods and on pasture hills and fields. 
They are immediately recognisable thanks to its large white “belt” around the neck on the black body, they have a short and thin bristle, a pointed nose, sloping ears and a slanting, robust back. The fragrant pork is optimal for cooking but it’s mainly used for the production of various kinds of tasty cold cuts. Classical are the “prosciutto alla spalla” (shoulder ham) and the “salami al lardo e il capocollo” (salami of lard and top neck); typical Tuscan products of the highest quality that you just can’t resist.
"Good Government” by Ambrogio Lorenzetti, 1338

Giovanni Fattori, "Two Pigs on Pasture"

My daughter and I were lucky enough to visit the Tuscan area together in 1997, and shopped at a specialty meat shop in San Gimignana (Town of Towers).  If you look closely, the Cinta Sensa boar heads are at the top of the picture on either side of the entry into the shop.  (Daughter Heidy is posed next to a wild hare.)

We tasted some of the Tuscan boar, along with other specialty items.  I just remember the meat was spicy, and the day was cold, rainy and very dark; not surprising that the camera was not well focused.

I'll be posting some watercolors of these pigs later this week.  Here is my start to a sketch of "Queens Of Italian Pigs" that will be painted with watercolors: 


  1. What an interesting post! I can't wait to see your watercolor -the sketch looks very promising.

  2. What a wonderful memory from 1997! Even though it was dark, I can still see that you had a great time! Have a blessed day and I can't wait to see the watercolor! HUGS!

  3. Fascinating post. Pigs always amaze me. Much smarter animals than one might think. I am sure they all have their personalities. The reason I don't raise anything I can't keep!!

    Can't wait to see your finished pic!

    Have a sweet day!

  4. Neat! Looking forward to the finished piece.

  5. I'm looking forward to seeing your watercolour complete - I would love to see it stage by stage to be honest - I have learned so much from you! The watercolour pencils have been out - I haven't got the hang of them yet but they were helpful on the watercolour buttercups I did last week. thanks for advice. Betty x


Your comments mean a lot to me. Thank you so much for reading my post, and heaps more hugs and thank you's for leaving a note!