Italy is one of the best countries in the world to find the mysterious little subterranean mushrooms.
THE elusive truffle – one of life’s great mysteries. Often when it comes to truffles, people are split into two camps: those who don’t care for the taste or smell of them, and those who become embroiled with a passionate love affair with the knobbly black lumps.
Of course, there are many more varieties than just the black truffle. There’s the summer truffle famed for its culinary value, the expensive white truffle, and the pecan truffle found in the southern United States.
But the leafy forests of north and central Italy are the best places to find them. Read on to discover where you can find the finest truffles in the world.
Emilia Romagna is a territory in northern Italy where truffles can be found everywhere, from the Apennine mountains to the plains regions, and villages scattered across the region are brilliant places to try authentic Italian food infused with truffles.
The city of Bologna in the Emilia Romagna region has a stellar culinary reputation and restaurants incorporate truffles in delightful regional delicacies. Locals adore Boido Tartufi Bologna for the true taste and pungent aroma of truffles and mushrooms, while home-style restaurant Tartufo Trattoria has been a family-run haven for truffles for 40 years.
The prized white truffle can be found in the north-western Piedmont region of Italy, and an eclectic mix of food tours can take you out to find them yourself. You will likely be joined by truffle-hunting dogs who are attracted to the funky aromas of the truffle and dig them out of the dirt.
The Alba white truffles, tuber magnatum pico, is one of the rarest foods on earth and can also be one of the most expensive. It grows wild and cannot be cultivated, sometimes costing nearly as much as caviar or Kobe meat. Truffle Hunting Alba operates tours across the region, including wine tastings and hot air balloon rides that give visitors incredible vistas of the stunning countryside.
Another Italian region rich in delicious local produce, Tuscany is a favourite for tourists due to the balmy weather and gorgeous rural scenery. Many believe the Tuscan white truffle, found around Siena and Pisa, is just as flavoursome and much better value for money than the white truffles found in Alba. As a result, an increasing number of tourists make the trip to Tuscany during the autumn for a more intimate and less commercial atmosphere, to try, buy and hunt for truffles.
Located in the heart of Italy, the central region of Umbria produces the highest number of black truffles in Italy and their quality is well-regarded across the world. Hunting for the strange subterranean mushrooms is a quintessential part of life for families in Umbria and has been for generations.
In the village of Pettino, there has been a truffle hunter in every family for centuries, and it harks back to a simple yet beautiful way of life – a hunter roaming the mountainous forests with his dogs, with nothing but a small pick and a leather bag full of truffles. Check out the Wild Foods Truffle Hunt for a unique day of truffle hunting in the heart of Umbria.