Italians on Italians
Beyond Toscano

The secret of finocchiona

Finocchiona is a popular type of salami from Tuscany. Infused with fennel seeds it offers a rich, meaty taste, with a peppery, aniseed-like finish.

Much like prosciutto and melon, salami and fennel make an unexpectedly winning combination. As with any recipe handed down through generations, the precise origins of the dish are unclear. There is however a well-known legend that many believe reveals the exact beginning of this heavenly combination.

The story goes that at a fair close to the Tuscan town of Prato, a thief stole a large stick of salami. To avoid detection, he hid it in a nearby fennel bush for the rest of the day, returning to retrieve his prize at nightfall. But when he did, he discovered that the salami had absorbed much of the flavour of fennel. And while he undoubtedly told all his friends about his great culinary discovery, chances are, he didn’t reveal quite how he came to find the combination.
Today, the ingredients can be a little fancier than just salami and fennel, with the addition of things like garlic and a dash or two of chianti wine making the flavour even richer.