Truffle Hunting in Tuscany – A Photo Journey

January 7, 2019  •  Buonconvento, Europe, Italy, Montalcino, Travel, Tuscany

If anyone ever invites you to hunt for truffles in Tuscany, go. Clear your calendar, make room for the trip in your travel budget, and just say yes. It’s an experience that will stay with you for a long time.Truffles aren’t found in the sunny dry parts of Italy, but rather along the damp creek beds
at the bottom of the hills in this fog-shrouded area near Montalcino.Boschino (not his real name, but how we were introduced to him) took us out with three truffle hunting dogs,
all the Lagotto Romagnolo breed. Nera (bottom right) was moderately successful during the hunt; Bianca (top) not so much.
She spent most of the time off sniffing tree trunks instead of the ground looking for the truffle scent.The real star was Stella. If Bianca indicated she found something, Boschino ignored her. If Nera seemed to dig for a truffle, he’d bring in Stella to confirm. When I asked him later why she was so much better at the task, he told me, “Gli altri cani sono di mio fratello.” The other dogs are my brother’s. He was clearly proud of how he had trained Stella.And she stole my heart!It’s really wet and muddy on a hunt – prime for moss to grow but also for mushrooms to sprout up in an hour.
Boschino harvested these for us and we served them on crostini that night.This was our harvest that morning – really from just an hour or so wandering along the edges of Boschino’s property.
Sadly, there was no way for me to bring them legally back to the US – and I couldn’t have afforded them anyway.
That’s about $10,000 worth of white truffles in my hands right there.Boschino’s 16-year-old son had gotten a pass from school that day to work with his dad.
It was touching to watch him, see how much he already knew about how to manage the dogs, dig the dirt and smell for truffles, and carefully remove the truffle intact to preserve its value – and to see how proud of him Boschino was.These signs line the edges of a farmer’s property in Tuscany once it’s confirmed that truffles grow there.
They serve to protect the area from poachers.Boschino had just been approved to post signs along another whole section of his farm, a financial success for him.It was nearly lunch time yet the valley of Boschino’s farm was still shrouded in fog
as we cleaned off our boots and relinquished our walking sticks.Instead of taking us directly to lunch, Boschino pulled into the small town of San Giovanni d’Asso and invited us in for an aperitivo. As they poured the prosecco, I thought, “It’s only 11 am.” Clearly, our haul that morning called for celebration!We had a simple lunch in a simple little restaurant in a tiny little town in southern Tuscany, and the white truffles
were the star of the meal. Served simply on crostini with the newly harvested olive oil from that year.Then on over easy eggs.And finally on homemade tagliatelle with a touch of butter.

The truffles are very delicate tasting. If you’ve only experience that overwhelming smell and taste of truffle oil –
which isn’t really truffles at all – you’re missing the point.
The whole idea is to let the truffle shine, so no other strong flavors dwarfed the truffles in these dishes.
As I write this post, I’m salivating just a little bit, remembering the delicate taste,
and savoring the wonderful experience of a truffle hunt in Tuscany.

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