What is Lardo di Arnad? Taste the Aosta Valley
cooking with lard

What is Lardo di Arnad PDO? This Lardo is made in a small village of the Aosta Valley. Let’s discover the history and main characteristics of this tasty food


The Lardo di Arnad (or Lard d’Arnad in French) is undoubtedly one of the most interesting Italian foods. It is also one of the most famous delicacies from the Aosta Valley.

This lardo is produced in Arnad, a pretty village situated in the lower Valle D’Aosta. The village is located in a flatland near the river Dora Baltea.

In addition to its lardo, this small town is also known for sport climbing, places of worship such as the parish church of San Martino, the sanctuary of the Madonna Delle Nevi and the baroque Vallaise castle.


Arnad – Flickr, Simone Janin


However, its reputation is mainly due to the production of this famous lardo. It is in fact the only type of lardo in Europe to have received the PDO (the Protected Designation of Origin), a geographical indication recognition. The specification for lardo di Arnad was registered in 1996.


What is Lardo di Arnad? Historical investigation

The first evidence of this food dates back to 1570. In one of his books, Lino Colliard, a famous historian from the Aosta Valley, mentions the distribution of Arnad lard to the needy by the monastery of Sant’Orso.

Lardo di Arnad originated from the need to preserve lard effectively. But it was not limited to simple salting. A unique preservation and curing method was in fact developed, with the aim of imprisoning aromas, flavours and maintaining tenderness.


what is lardo
Flickr, Hedonistic Hiking


Parallelepiped containers made of chestnut wood or terracotta have always been used to mature this pork lard. Their capacity varies from 25 to 50 litres and they are called “doils” in the Aosta Valley dialect. As early as in 1763, the presence of four “old doils” is mentioned in the inventory of the kitchen of Arnad Castle.

On the table of a tavern in Aosta, there is another mention of lardo di Arnad dating back to 1800. Because of its importance, this lard was sold in all the markets of the region. Moreover, the memories of this food were recounted by the municipality’s elderly population and collected in the text “Arnad in the Aosta Valley – almost a century of memory”.


Geographical survey on Arnad lard

The strong link with the territory inevitably leads us to make an in-depth investigation of the geographical area of breeding and production.

The pigs used in the processing of lardo di Arnad come from farms located in the following regions: Aosta Valley, Veneto, Piedmont, Emilia Romagna and Lombardy. They must therefore be born, reared and slaughtered exclusively in these territories. The factors characterising this vast breeding area are geography, environment and production experience.

As regards the production, it must be carried out in the municipality of Arnad. Indeed, the climate of this village determine the quality of Aosta Valley lard.

In particular, three factors inherent to the Arnad area are essential:

  • Microclimate – a dry and ventilated environment ensures the right maturation.
  • Native herbs – local mountain herbs are part of the brine mixture.
  • Special water conditions – non-calcareous, soft water with low hardness and few dissolved salts. These are the unique properties of the water used to brine Lardo di Arnad.


Lardo di Arnad – Flickr, Claudio Cicali


What is Lardo di Arnad? Here is the ancient recipe!

What is lardo di Arnad? Keep reading for more details! We will out how this tasty product is made, specifying that the processing must take place entirely in the municipality of Arnad.

Aosta Valley lard is obtained from the shoulder and back of pigs aged at least one year.

A maximum of 48 hours after slaughtering, the pork lard is cut and placed in the previously mentioned wooden containers, the doils. At this stage, particular attention must be paid to the temperature so as not to compromise the final taste.

The lardo in the doils is placed on a bed of seasoning and salt in alternating layers.

Once the doil is completely filled, salt water is brought to the boil and then allowed to cool to obtain the brine. Finally, the brine is poured into the container.

The patient maturing phase now begins. In fact, it is necessary to wait three months for the lardo di Arnad to be ready.


A brief comparison: Arnad lard and Colonnata lard

Lardo di Colonnata is another popular Italian cured meat. Unlike Lardo di Arnad, it is a PGI (Protected geographical indication). The specifications are therefore less restrictive than for PDOs.


what is lard
Lardo di Colonnata – Flickr, Edmund


This pork lard is also made from the back fat of selected pigs (cured pig fat) from a well-defined geographical area. We are in Colonnata, a hamlet of Carrara, in Tuscany.

Like Arnad lard, Colonnata lard is rich in history and faithfully represents its territory.

What is lard famous for in this case? The differences concern the mixture and the curing containers. Lardo di Colonnata is matured in marble containers, coming from Carrara marble quarries. The recipe calls for the containers to be rubbed with garlic. Afterwards, Colonnata lard is added with a mixture of spices and sea salt.

A different story but just as romantic, don’t you think?


cooking lard
Marble containers – Flickr, Christofer Evans



Lard Recipes & Food Pairings

In the oldest delicatessens of the Aosta Valley, such as “Arnad Le Vieux” or “Maison Bertolin”, you will find all the characteristics I am going to describe.


pork lard
Arnad Lard – Flickr, Losangeles1947


Lardo di Arnard is never less than 3 cm thick, excluding the rind. When cut, the lard is white, compact and without veins. It is tasty and aromatic, releasing all scents of the native herbs that make up the brine.

Cooking lard in the best way, you should try to cook with lard some traditional recipes from the Aosta Valley!

Arnad lard is traditionally served with the Pan Dur (typical dark bread). In the recipes, it is almost always used with chestnuts and honey, which enhance its sweetness. Lardo di Arnad has got a distinctly greasy texture.


cooking with lard
What is lardo? Flickr, Fondazione Turistica


This is why it is recommended to pair the lard with Franciacorta Saten or Valdobbiadene Conegliano Superiore Prosecco DOCG.

Lardo di Arnad provides 891 kcal per 100 g. A traditional mountain food to taste with us on cold days! Italia Delight offers you a gastronomic tour in the Aosta Valley to try this ancient flavour! 😋



About Author

Flavia Biondi
Ciao, sono Flavia! Aspirante enogastronoma, appassionata di cibo, vino e territorio. Studio Scienze e Culture Enogastronomiche presso l'università Roma Tre. Proseguirò gli studi per comunicare il legame indissolubile tra cibo e ambiente e creare cultura.


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