Once upon a time, in the succession of valleys and hills that link the lovely beaches to the rugged mountains (from the Sibillini to Mt. Catria) inland, it was quite normal to come across two faithful work companions: the farmer and his cow or bull.

With the advent of farming machinery, the beast of burden was removed from the scene and has made way for breeds of cattle destined for the dinner table. In an environment which has, by its very nature, selected its inhabitants and how they could survive, the mountains are renowned for their wide variety of flora and spontaneous, healthy and wholesome pastures. Sharecroppers would alternate horses, cattle and sheep to best exploit the terrain and not ruin the pastures, because of the different ways in which these animals graze. This results in a decidedly higher quality fodder. It is in this environment and from this culture that the Marchigiana breed has grown, one of the finest to be found anywhere.

A distant relative of the large horned bovine, it evolved from interbreeding with Chianina and, starting in the XX century, with the Romagnola. The result is a successful breed which often, even abroad, is used to create further improved cross breeds. It’s a very large animal and its meat is safeguarded under the IGP (PGI, Protected Geographical Indication) White Veal of the Central Apennines seal.

The Marche is also home to various breeds of sheep whose meat is sometimes named after its provenance: Vissana, Sopravvissana, Appenninica and, above all, the breed from Fabriano, one of the territory’s most common.

The type and quality of the sheep are protected under the “Central Italian Lamb” seal, recognised as an IGP product.

Even the meat of the horses of Catria is of a superior quality. This horse is most common in the Comunità Montana designated areas of Mt Catria and Cesano and of Mt. Catria and Nerone.

Horsemeat from the Catria areas can be used as fresh cuts of meat, or to make encased and preserved products.

Breeding barnyard animals (chickens, rabbits, turkeys, etc…) at home still providesthe dinner table with much of its meat, although industry and mass production have, to a great extent, taken over. To this day, quality also continues to characterise the typical free-range cock, rustic capon and bronzed turkey.

Text was taken up and elaborated by the pubblication “Made in Marche – 0km flavours and quality shopping”