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Truffle hunting in Italy

Make an autumn city trip to Turin even more memorable with a visit to the hilly region of Piemonte, Italy’s truffle region. Black truffles can be found almost year round, but from September through November this beautiful region is famous for its aromatic white truffles. Piemonte marks this time of year with truffle markets, truffle hunts, and of course truffle dishes.

3 centuries ago, the chefs of French king Louis XIV introduced the truffle as a delicacy. A fungus that grows underground, the truffle is mainly found in Italy and Spain. The fungus has a strong aroma and a unique mushroom taste. The truffle is very popular among epicureans; many Michelin star restaurants will offer this delicacy on their menu.

The hills of Piemonte
The hills of Piemonte

Turin

Dogs have replaced pigs

A truffle hunt is a unique experience: see and feel the partnership between human and dog ‘live’. Truffles are pretty rare so most truffle hunters prefer to work alone to keep the competition at bay. However, some hunters like to take truffle lovers along on their search. In the past, hunters often used a pig to find the truffles. This was not without risk as the gluttonous beast often ended up devouring the valuable morsels. Nowadays most hunters use well-trained dogs that, with their sensitive nose, can smell the strong aroma from miles away.

Truffle hunt with a dog

From fungus to prized ingredient

During truffle season, you will be hard pressed to find a restaurant in Piemonte that doesn’t offer truffles on its menu. Unfortunately the delicacy comes at a steep price; a kilo of white truffles may cost up to 6,500 euros. The truffle is a very rare product. White and black truffles are also called the white and black gold. But don’t let the price scare you off; the unique, intense flavour of the truffle is truly out of this world. Try just a tiny amount: even a little bit of shaved truffle on a plate of tagliatelle will be heaven for your taste buds.

Pasta with truffle

Sampling truffles at the market

During truffle season, you will find a variety of truffle markets in Piemonte. Here, prizes are awarded for the most beautiful, biggest and tastiest truffles. Sample and buy a wide variety of local products with truffle ingredients, ranging from oil to honey, cheese and chocolate. The most famous truffle market in Piemonte is held in the town of Alba. It is the largest and most prestigious truffle fair in the region. If you have time reserve a wine and truffle tasting, an opportunity to sample delicious wines and truffle dishes.

Truffle market in Alba

Photo credits

  • Truffle hunt with a dog: Francesco de Marco
  • Pasta with truffle: HFNG
  • Truffle market in Alba: cancer741