Tuscan wine guide

Monday, 19 January 2015

Truffle Hunting in Tuscany

Tuscan countryside: a day in truffle hunting 

Truffles are the fruit of underground mushrooms which grow among the roots of a few very specific trees such as oak, hornbeam and birch. 
Many attempts have been made to cultivate them commercially, with very little success.

White truffle from San Miniato 

There are around 1,400 licensed truffle hunters in Tuscany, each hunter has his own territory and secret truffle-rich locations are written down in the hunter’s notebook, and passed  from one generation to the next. 

Truffle hunting with clients

Generally speaking the renowed areas for truffle hunting in Tuscany area: San Miniato a hilltop town village looking down the misty Arno valley and San Giovanni d’Asso a small village perched on a hilltop in the scenic area named Crete Senesi or as Dante defined it, the Desert of Accona.  
Surely more popular the first town, less known off the neaten paths the second where the locals used part of its medieval castle to open a museum devoted to truffles.

Until the 1970s in Italy pigs were used to hunt truffle but had a strong tendency to gobble them before the hunter could intervene.
Today dogs – such as the Lagotto breed- are considerably less attracted and therefore less likely to snaffle such a worth fungus, plus hunters and dogs form an inseparable team for ever and it makes sense to hear stories of the best dogs being stolen or poisoned and hunters spying on their competitors’ high-yielding grounds.

Hunting dog..

When a fresh truffle emerges from the ground and is cut, it gives off a distinctive aroma not easy to define: garlic, hay, honey.
The prized white truffle, sometimes called the white diamond of Italy, grows from September to December. And the late spring sees the waning days of the bianchetti truffle, a milder one,  is found widely throughout Tuscany.

My friends doing truffle hunting

Regardless of the season, skillful hunters and their faithful dogs will help us finding some delicious truffles during our truffle hunting followed by a gourmet lunch with the possibility to take part to a cooking class to understand better how prepare this precious fungus.

Join me for a private day tour including a truffle hunting and a cooking class.