In the world of culinary delights, anybody who is anybody understands the weight that the Italian truffle carries. This terribly expensive and highly coveted food item is actually celebrated with a number of truffle festivals held during the months of October and November every year.
The top truffle regions are found in northern and central Italy, mainly in the regions of Tuscany, Umbria, Le Marche and Piedmont. And even if you don’t intend to buy any truffles, while on your tours of Europe, going to one of the festivals is seriously worth the visit. Worth an astronomical amount per kilogram, the coveted white truffle is considered to be way past a delicacy in many regions, and more of an elite culinary institution.
A truffle is actually a subterranean mushroom found growing and fed by the root systems of trees. Because they are actually not visible above the surface of the earth, Trifolau, or truffle harvesters rely on specially trained pigs and non-pedigreed dogs to sniff them out underground – in fact, without the 4 legged assistants, the elusive truffle may never have graced our tables.
The festivals are a great place to try truffle dishes. The heady aroma of these fresh delicacies fills the air, and there is a bustling hive of activity with loads of entertainment, delicious local fare including artisan breads, cheese and salami, and wine, just waiting to be feasted on.
One of the most famous fairs is the La Sagra del Tartufo Bianco held in the small town of San Miniato in the stunningly beautiful region of Tuscany, an area synonymous with some of the best food and wine in Italy. Here, you can try the coveted white truffle for a fraction of the price that you would pay in a restaurant, ride a donkey, check out some of the medieval buildings, and get a chance to find out more about this incredible region that produces a whopping 25% of all of Italy’s white truffles. About half an hour from the steamy medieval city centre of Florence, this is perfect place for a day trip out into the country.
There are at least 8 varieties of truffles that grow exclusively in Italy, so be sure to hunt some down when you visit there.