Pig Culture in Basilicata

Preserving a Southern Italian tradition.

By Ephemera documentary

Angelo Chiacchio

Butchering in Basilicata (2018) by Angelo ChiacchioEphemera documentary

Basilicata sits in an overlooked, rural region of Italy. After World War II, an economic shift brought the promise of a new lifestyle. Its people adapted to a new urban approach to life and slowly let go of their close relationship with the natural world.


Today, the departure of younger generations from Southern Italy has become routine. Preserving Basilicata’s cultural heritage has been left in the hands of the few who remain.


Aerial view of Episcopia (2018) by Angelo ChiacchioEphemera documentary

In January 2018, photographer Angelo Chiacchio - to start his journey to the world's most fragile places - went back to his hometown Episcopia during pig butchering season.

Episcopia's countryside by Angelo ChiacchioEphemera documentary

Episcopia is a small village at the Southern end of Basilicata. Some inhabitants live in surrounding hamlets in the countryside. There are no more than 1500 people left.

Portrait of a Lucanian pig farmer (2018) by Angelo ChiacchioEphemera documentary

Rosario’s hamlet is situated just behind the revered convent of Santa Maria.  He is one of the last pig farmers in town. 

Local pig farmer in Episcopia by Angelo ChiacchioEphemera documentary

He still uses ancestral techniques to raise a few pigs each year. He sells some to local families and keeps one for himself.

Rosario the pig farmer. by Angelo ChiacchioEphemera documentary

Local family prepearing pork meat by Angelo ChiacchioEphemera documentary

Rosario’s friends are also his customers. As they prepare their own meat, they help Rosario preserve the local traditions. 

Local family preparing pork meat by Angelo ChiacchioEphemera documentary

Only a few other families raise their own pigs. The pigs will provide them with meat for an entire year. 

Preparation of sausage meat with traditional red pepper flakes by Angelo ChiacchioEphemera documentary

The traditional Basilicata recipe mixes pork meat with local sweet paprika.

Old woman preparing pig intestines by Angelo ChiacchioEphemera documentary

Preparation still relies on simple and ancient techniques, passed on from generation to generation. 

Woman knotting pig instestins for soppressata by Angelo ChiacchioEphemera documentary

Pork intestines are carefully washed. Then knotted at one end.

Sausage making in Episcopia by Angelo ChiacchioEphemera documentary

The resulting casing is filled with meat. Making sausages in Basilicata is a surprisingly collaborative task.

Making of homemade Basilicata sopressata by Angelo ChiacchioEphemera documentary

Making of Basilicata soppressata by Angelo ChiacchioEphemera documentary

Once filled, the casing is knotted at the other end.

Curing capocollo by Angelo ChiacchioEphemera documentary

Finally, the meat is stored in cellars for curing and consumption over the next 16 months. 

Old balance in Episcopia by Angelo ChiacchioEphemera documentary

Conclusion

Although fading, Basilicata’s traditions encourage a responsible and balanced approach to meat consumption.  Can the region’s intimate and direct relationship with the environment be preserved and provide a model for our future?


Terra by Angelo ChiacchioEphemera documentary

Explore more

To learn more about Basilicata culture, see also the story about "August 5th in Episcopia".

Partnership by Angelo ChiacchioEphemera documentary

This story was created with the support of Art Works for Change, a nonprofit organization that creates contemporary art exhibitions and storytelling projects to address critical social and environmental issues.

Credits: Story

Written, shot and produced by Angelo Chiacchio
Copy editing: Al Grumet, Rajesh Fotedar

With the support of: Google Arts & Culture, Art Works for Change

Thanks to: Rosario Oliveto, Francomario Bianco, Loredana Bianco, Mirko Bianco, Vincenza Lo Fiego, Felicetta Rondinelli, Antonio Fittipaldi e Pina Chiacchio.
Thanks also to: Angela Celano, Maria Chiacchio, Marianna Chiacchio, Marilena Fiordalisi, Antonietta Lauria, Carmela Longo. 

In memory of Franceso “Provolone” Farisano

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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