Bresaola affumicata

Valchiavenna (Sondrio), Lombardy

Bresaola affumicata – photo Lorenzo Vinci

A staple food of smugglers during their “missions”, smoked Bresaola is a variation of the more famous Bresaola obtained from the beef shoulder or haunch, which goes through a smoking process.
Known and appreciated also internationally, Bresaola is a low-fat cured meat, particularly appreciated nowadays in low calorie diets.


Smoked Bresaola is served as a cured meat encased in natural gut, sometimes covered in a whitish-grey mould. The meat is compact and dark red, and comes in pieces weighing between 2 and 4 kilograms.

Production area

Smoked  Bresaola is typical of the Val Chiavenna in the province of Sondrio.
In the past, the abundance of woods in the valley not only gave sustenance to the local communities, but were also used to produce timber for the plains. Transport was facilitated by its vicinity to Lake Como, where the raw material was shipped towards the ports of dove Como and Lecco.
To get a good idea of the majestic forests of Val Chiavenna, just head up to Gordona towards Val Bodengo. An intense series of curves easily takes you up to the breathtaking panoramic height in the thick woods.
On the other hand, from the belvedere of Dunadif, the rhaetian side reveals all its splendid riches.


The first testimonies to the production of Bresaola date back to the XV century, but it probably originated before that. Production was family-based until the early 1800s. In the XIX century, great development was made in processing that led the product across the national borders. Nowadays, smoked Bresaola and even more so the normal Bresaola are present on Italian tables and are winning over foreign markets.

Production methods

The chosen cut (usually beef shoulder or haunch) is prepared then dry-salted, for better placement of the pieces.
After 10 days it is smoked with pine sawdust then it is dried. The Bresaola is cured in naturally aired rooms for about 2 months.
Before being put onto the market, the product undergoes a final check.


There are two theories as to the origin of the name bresaola. The first can be found in the term “brasa” that refers to the braziers used to heat the rooms where the meat was cured, the second, in dialect, “brisa” means salted, therefore tracing it back to the technique used for salting.

Organoleptic characteristics

Smoked Bresaola has a tasty and intense flavour, and a smoked aroma.

How to consume it

There are many ways to serve smoked Bresaola, the best is to eat it in its natural state, perhaps with a fine rye bread, to be able to perceive its characteristic aromas.