Cinta Sonoma from Oliveto Community on Vimeo.

Most famously depicted in Ambrogio Lorenzetti’s painting, Allegoria del Buon Governo (Allegory of Good Government) from the late 1330s, the Cinta Senese, the beloved pig of Tuscany has a long and storied history in Italy as well as international culinary notoriety.

The breed, native to the woodlands of Tuscany where it roams free-range foraging and rooting among the abundant forest floors, is used to make some of Italy’s finest cured meats included the famous and rare Cinta Senese prosciutto. Because Cintas have an unusual amount of back fat and take longer to mature their meat is particularly prized. And yet, the Cinta Senese somehow managed to almost go extinct in the late 1990s with only eight or so males and around thirty sows left in Italy. Since then, after closer management and being awarded a DOP classification the Cinta Senese is no longer endangered, but it is still a rarity only to be found in Tuscany.

So you can imagine Oliveto’s excitement when we learned that our friends at Front Porch Farm in Healdsburg, CA (who have played¬†an important role in helping to develop a local grain economy here in northern California), are also the first farmers outside of Italy to be raising this breed of pigs. Because the name, Cinta Senese, is a restricted designation they’ve re-christened them the Cinta. Plain and simple.

Peter & Mimi Buckley of Front Porch Farm Welcoming the Cinta

Peter & Mimi Buckley of Front Porch Farm Welcoming the Cinta

The first drift (no really, that’s what a group of hogs is called. Or a passel. Or a parcel. Or a drove.) of twenty-one Cinta, which includes four distinct bloodlines, arrived at Front Porch Farm at the beginning of July 2012 after a long quarantine, followed by a long flight, followed by another long quarantine, and are now settling into the lush life of northern California. We’ll be keeping tabs on them over the next year or so, and reporting on their development. And hopefully, if all goes well, in a few years we’ll be able to offer some Cinta¬†prosciutto on the Oliveto salume platter.