Aceto balsamico tradizionale di Modena
traditional balsamic vinegar of Modena
caffè italiano
italian coffee
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
View of the Palazzo Ducale of Modena in a 1791 litograph In the left tower lay the room which preserved the Duke's vinegar

History

Rare are the products wich can afford to rest for years before being enjoyed: the traditional balsamic vinegar is one of them. Such a long time is needed to reach perfection, to faithfully report the flavour of the various wooden barrels in wich, year by year, it rests. Its ripening and its ageing are scanned by the succession of the season wich allow the must to work with the heat of spring and summer and rest with chill of autumn and winter. The time and the nature are donating us a product of inestimable value that reunites in it tradition and the history of Modena which can easily enumerate itself among the capitals of deliciousness.

It's not known for sure how and when the balsamic vinegar was born: maybe a small quantity of cooked grapes' must (called " SABA", largely used in the cooking of Modena in the past) forgotten and found again after a long time, having gone through a process of natural acetification, had a sweet and sour taste. The first written documents date back to the XI century when in a chronicle of the benedictine Donizone, something is said about a small barrel of vinegar given as a present by Marquess Bonifacio, Sir of the Canossa castle and Matilda's father, to the King and future Emperor Enrico II of Franconia in the year 1046.
Most probably already about the year 1228, at the time of Obizzo II, at the court of the ducal family of Este, barrels of vinegar were preserved. The diffusion of the balsamic started in the 1598 when the Duke of Este moved from Ferrara to Modena, that became the capital of the dukedom ; there are documents of this period that confirm the particular attention that the ducal court had for this product that was usually reserved for the ducal family or as a present for very important people. In the 1700 the balsamic is already known in Europe: archives documents testify that an english merchant and the Count Michele Woronzon, high chancellor of Moscovia, asked the balsamic vinegar to the Duke Francesco III.
The balsamic vinegar, before being used in gastronomy, was used for its medicamentous properties. In the treatise " of the government of the plague and of the ways of bewaring of it " written by Ludovico Antonio Muratori, eminent modenese scholar, he describes some remedies based on the vinegar, useful as antidotes against the terrible disease. Among all the devastations caused in Modena by the french revolution there is also the auction sale in 1796 for the french republic, of the vinegar house of Duke Ercole III, situated in the west tower of the Ducal Palace of Modena. Probably not all the barrels were sold : on the 4th of may 1859 the ducal vinegar reserve was visited by Vittorio Emanuele II, the new king, and the prime minister Camillo Benso Conte di Cavour ; the next 24th of august the prime minister ordered to select all the best barrels and to transfer them to the Moncalieri's castle, where, for the very poor knowledges about the technical secrets, but this leaded to the loss of this immense treasure.

 
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