In the city famous in the world for mortadella, so much so that it is called Bologna almost everywhere, it was the porchetta that was celebrated for centuries, with a party that was probably the most important and significant among all those celebrated in Bologna.
Porchetta is a sausage that has become accustomed to connote in other areas of Italy and not in Bologna: instead, as early as 1249, on the day of San Bartolomeo (24 August) the whole city was involved in a celebratory celebration that concerned every class social, and had the porchetta as a characterizing element. It has always been believed that the party was born to celebrate the arrival in Bologna of King Enzo (Heinz, son of Emperor Frederick II) taken prisoner in the battle of Fossalta: this thesis, widespread especially since the Renaissance, is questioned by studies recent, but even if the reason is perhaps not that of King Enzo there is no doubt that the feast of the porchetta was celebrated in Bologna already almost eight centuries ago.
The original festival included games, entertainment and even a Palio di San Bartolomeo. After the launch of various foods, the climax was reached when the nobles – from the balcony above the town hall door – threw a large roasted suckling pig to the festive crowd. In the 16th century there are more detailed reports on the feast of the porchetta in Bologna, especially by Giulio Cesare Croce, the writer famous for his Bertoldo, Bertoldino and Cacasenno. Reading his chronicles it seems that in this period (second half of the 16th century) the Bolognese suckling pig had taken the scepter of the party relegating the palio and other initiatives to secondary roles, becoming the protagonist of the whole day and not only of the celebratory moment of the launch from the balcony of the Palace. The whole city smelled of cooking in every home and in the taverns and, as Croce writes … “for all you can see nothing but bringing dishes here and there with porchetta inside and presenting them to this and that” … Nobles and common people, all that day they seemed to have no other interest than to eat pork, and music, dances, games seem almost a pretext for food, instead of the other way around.
In the following century at Croce, the party reached a grandiose pomp and representation by participation, for shows and scenographies, which always culminated with the launch from the balcony of a roasted suckling pig. Still throughout the eighteenth century every August 24 Bologna celebrates its feast in a sumptuous and engaging way, until 1796, when Napoleon’s troops enter the city and, among the various provisions, suppress the pig’s feast.
Unfortunately, the festival was no longer restored and Bologna and Bologna lost their memory of this August 24 which for centuries celebrated a specialty that today belongs more to other cities, but which has found a tribute here that few have been able to pay them in the same way. .