Anne's Blog

Norcia: Prosciutto, Truffles and…..Earthquakes

Date: January 10, 2019 - categories: , , , , - Comments Off on Norcia: Prosciutto, Truffles and…..Earthquakes

Often linked to black truffles, savory prosciutto, pecorino cheese and the baby lentils of nearby Castelluccio,  Italians now  think “earthquake,” too, now when envisioning Norcia.  The August 24,  2016 earthquake shook up Norcia but the October 30th quake the same year caused the major devastation. The Basilica dedicated  to Norcia’s beloved St. Benedict (born there in the fifth century), collapsed only the facade remaining.

A heart-rending sight to see on our early January visit to this Umbrian mountain hill town. San Benedetto stands in the center of the piazza in front of his Basilica with hand upraised and pointing at his church as if to employ visitors to look and ponder the devastation.

I walked the town as Pino met with a fellow builder about a restoration project in nearby Todiano. A sobering stroll:

So much of the town is scaffolded, so many shops closed, businesses moved out to pre-fabs or just shut down. Streets quite empty:

As I passed one shop with Norcia T-shirts in the window, a small thought:  a contribution to the local economy?

Owner Marina affirmed right away that I had the right idea – and proudly showed me T-shirts she’d had made bearing lines of her father’s poetry dedicated to his beloved Norcia

Inspite of the challenges of post-earthquake life, I felt the good spirits and determination of the norcini everywhere. Marina and her friend/client Sara evidenced that indomitable spirit:

A couple T-shirts in my bag, I continued my walk along the scaffolded Norcia alleyways, here and there shops of norcineria open – and many an eager shop-keeper inviting me in for a taste of wild boar salami or pecorino cheese with truffles.  I stopped in at one: no clients and the owner (Salvatore, I learned) was :  behind the counter munching on a prosciutto snack.

I needed a special gift and decided this would be the place.  I could make another small contribution to the Norcia economy while the shop’s enticements would be so appreciated:  the proverbial “prendere due piccioni con una fava” (“catch two pigeons with one fave bean”).

Salvatore had an open gift box ready but it was quite a task to decide on the contents: temptations were many.  No doubt I’d include a couple bottles of the artisanal beer made by the Benedictine monks of Norcia,..

..the famous quick-cooking tiny lentils of Castelluccio di Norcia, a packet of legumes with porcini mushrooms for soup, polenta cornmeal with truffles

….salamis of deer meat, wild boar and with truffles

…and an aged pecorino (sheep’s milk).  Salvatore packed all in a gift box and I headed off with Norcia goodness.

I passed a house with a big blue bow hanging on the door.  A baby boy was born.  A sign of new life going on in Norcia.

Read here about a norcineria

Click here for  a note on a norcineria and earthquake restoration

Read about the Norcia earthquake devastation

Click here for more on the Benedictine monks of Norcia

Read here about St. Benedict

Click here to see Assisi’s medieval banner-wavers in Norcia for St. Benedict

Click here to read about a favorite Norcia eating spot

Read about Castelluccio and the famous lentils

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