History and ancient traditions of Balsamic Vinegar

In ancient times...

The history of vinegar is rooted in the mists of time....we have informations about “sapa” or “defrutum ” (cooked must), the unique ingredient used in the production of traditional balsamic vinegar, already used by ancient Romans as a sweetener or the prepare vinegar (Plinio and Columella in “De re rustica”).

Matilda di Canossa

A scroll depicting Matilda of Canossa preserved in the Vatican.

The special Canossa's vinegar

Other informations about this great product can be read on Donizone of Canossa's “Vita Mathildis”, a monk who told the story that, in the year 1046, the emperor Henry III came to Italy to solve to the problems due to the election of three popes, during a stop in Piacenza's Duchy, request for gift a special vinegar, produced in Canossa's Castle, that he had heard being the most perfect.

At that time balsamic vinegar was considered as balm, an ointment, a product good for health and used as a medicine.

Modern Age

Only in Renaissance the history of balsamic vinegar became more defined. From that time we have documents which told of noble families of Reggio Emilia and Modena, who have their own batteries of balsamic vinegar.

Also Ludovico Ariosto and his cousin Lazzaro Spallanzani mention in their writings the balsamic vinegar or “sapa”; the custom of giving dowry to noblewomen batteries of balsamic vinegar goes back to that period. The rest is today's history.

casle of canossa

What remains today of the Castle of Matilda of Canossa is the hill and ruins of the ancient fortress. Here, in the countryside of Reggio Emilia, not far from Modena and Parma, was invented balsamic vinegar in the middle ages.