Italian truffles also known as ”Tartufi” are Italy’s signature delicacy in the world of gourmet. It should be noted that the best time of the year to visit Italy to taste Italian truffles is during summer or fall, as that’s the harvest season and it is when the restaurants and shops are rife with these sumptuous treats.
What is a Truffle?
Truffles are a specific kind of mushrooms that grow in the roots of an oak, hickory as well as poplar. According to a Roman legend these mushrooms were growing under certain trees, the ones that have been struck by the god of sky, Jupiter. Truffles have a symbolic meaning for Italian culture and cuisine and that is why locals even throw festivals celebrating the truffle (tartufi). Such festivals are being organized in the regions of Piedmont and Umbria during the fall season. An interesting fact about Italian tartufi is that it does not grow in vitro. That is why there has been formed an entire cast of professionals who work in that field, the so-called trifulau or truffle-seekers. Trifulau are masters of their job and one can hardly say whether they had a good or a bad harvest day. For their ”hunt” they take trained pigs or mongrel dogs with them in order to easily find the truffles. They say mongrel dogs and pigs have a strong sense of smell, which helps them to spend less time on seeking for truffles.
A rare kind of truffles is the white truffle and that is why it is also highly prized in the whole world. And these are the common types of Italian truffles you can try in Italy:
Types of Truffles
Black truffles appear to be the affordable options of the delicious yet expensive Italian delicacy, costing around 200-300 EUR for a single kg. Black truffles are considered less flavorful compared to the white one. The former can be found in Piedmont or in South Umbria and are described with a wrinkly skin and seem to have the same size as the white ones.
White truffles are the most expensive kind of truffles, costing 1000-3000 EUR for a kg. White truffles are mostly found in Piedmont and usually they are harvested from September to December. It should be noted that this is a special kind of truffle and it requires a special care in order to be maintained, which also explains the high price. Also white truffles are served fresh and never cooked, as they are too delicate for cooking.
The Best Places to Eat Italian Truffles
Now that you know the basics about this Italian treat, you might also be interested where you can try the best truffles. Well here’s a quick guide!
1. Truffle Festival at San Giovanni d’Asso
This festival is usually held every second or third weekend of November and it includes regal ceremony as well as tips about the storage and the care of the delicious white truffles. Aside from the whole excitement of the festival, you’ll also be impressed by the beauty of the village and its surrounding countryside.
2. National Truffle Fair “Trifola d’Or”
The very first time that the National Truffle Fair “Trifola d’Or” took place was back in 1967. Nowadays it has become a tradition as locals organize the Truffle Fair every year. Trifola d’Or is a great chance for visitors to taste truffles that grow in that area as well as other kinds of local foods.
3. Truffle Fair of Moncalvo
This is another white truffle festival that takes place in Moncalvo every year. During the festival (which is held in October) visitors get to see all kinds of white truffles, explore the prices and the main criteria for their quality as well as get to see simulated searchers of truffles. Also locals offer a 2-day wine tour especially for those of you who appear to be wine lovers. So there are two reasons why you should visit Italy in October.
4. National Fair of the White Truffle of Sant’Agata Feltria
This is a national event held annually (in autumn). The national fair of the White Truffle of Sant’Agata Feltria attracts many visitors as well as locals, as it is a big celebration dedicated to the discovery of the recipe of the Italian prized white truffle. It is notable that this festival stands out from other events in the sector as only a special selection of white truffles is being presented during the event. Another thing that makes it very exciting is that aside from the presentation and the promotion of this Italian delicacy, certain exhibitions and shows are held during the event.
Piedmont has the ideal climatic conditions for truffles, that is why the most aromatic and flavorful white truffles are growing in the forests of Piedmont. The harvest season opens in October and during the entire autumn all kinds of truffles can been seen in stands in a small town in the region called Alba.
This region is favorable particularly for black truffles. This kind of truffle can be harvested from early December to mid-March.
Tuscan is another Italian region famous for its delicious truffles. In a small neighborhood in the town of San Miniato in Tuscany the largest and most aromatic white truffles can be found.