Autumn is a beautiful time to visit Italy, especially the last two weeks of September and the first two weeks of October. The weather is perfect, the crowds have dwindled, and the harvest showcases Italy’s culinary delights. Fall festivals abound throughout Italy honoring grapes, olives, chestnuts, mushrooms, and the pricy truffle.
Truffles have been a delicacy for thousands of years. There are references by Greek and Roman philosophers as well as in ancient Egyptian writings. Tartufo, in Italian, is a fungus found growing near the roots of certain trees. Its enticing aromas and earthy flavor, along with the fact that it has not been cultivated since the late 1800s makes it one of the most coveted foods in the world.
There are a handful of truffle varieties making them available most of the year. The Italian white truffle is the most expensive and aromatic, prevalent in the Piedmont area of Northern Italy, the most well-known truffle heralding from the area around the city of Alba where the International Truffle Festival is held every. Their season lasts from October to December, and every restaurant and home will be serving freshly shaved white truffles over Tajarin, local egg pasta. Next, to being invited into a hunters home, we highly recommend you head off to Ristorante La Pina for this delectable dish served only during the truffle season. [Piazza Risorgimento, 4 Alba phone +39 0173 442800 http://www.lapiola-alba.it/en/]
The Italian Black truffle, known as the Perigord, is the cherished truffle located in Umbra and available from October through early January. It makes sense that it is also home to Urbani, the world supplier for this prized delicacy. [Santa’Anatolia di Narco, http://urbanitartufi.it/en/] Their truffle museum is worth a trip, but if you can’t make it to Umbria this fall, Urbani has opened a test kitchen and tasting room in Manhattan, called Truffle Lab NYC. Here you can enjoy truffle dinners or partake in cooking classes taught by world-renowned chefs. Or just stop in for the freshest Italian truffles flown in daily from Umbria. [10 West End Ave, NY NY 10023 www.urbani.com]
The Italian Summer Truffle is more readily available and in season from March through November. It is found in throughout most parts of Tuscany and the region of Le Marche. Papavero Villa Rentals has many properties in the picturesque area called Le Crete – the heart of the Siena province countryside. We arrange a wonderful day hunting the white truffle of Le Crete Senesi, the Marzulo and third known simply as the black summer truffle. Each has its own season allowing a truffle hunt throughout the tourist season. You will join a local villager and his trained dog through the woods in search of this delicacy followed with lunch in a trattoria or even his own home accompanied by the famous Brunello di Montalcino or Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. Before the hunt, if time allows, you will tour the small truffle museum in San Giovanni, a quaint medieval village set among the forests that provide the white truffles. Every person in the area hunts for truffles for their own table, but since they last at most four days, they sell the overflow to agents hired by prestigious restaurants around the world. They say that if you put an Alba white truffle next to theirs, you cannot tell the difference.
If you prefer to hunt for fresh truffles in comfort, here are some of Italy’s 2017 Truffle Festivals
ALBA – Alba’s white truffle fair and market is one of the best and worth a special trip. The event runs from this year from October 7 to 26th November with gastronomic stands and ends with the truffle world auction and the white truffle walk for tourists. During the fair, there are concerts and lots of entertainment as well. The week before leads up to this event with the famous donkey Palio and the chef contest; the finalist will then enter the world’s most prestigious cooking contest the Bocouse d’ Or in France next January. http://www.fieradeltartufo.org/
MONCALVO – this year will be held from the 22nd through the 29th Ocboter. Located among the picturesque area of Monferrato with stoic castles, panoramic landscapes, and quaint villages. Moncalvo will be celebrating with truffle tastings and dinners leading up to the auction on the last day.
San Giovanni d’Asso – second and third weekends in November
Volterra – Last weekend in October and the first weekend in November
San Miniato ( Florence Province) Last weekend in October and the first weekend in November
Corazzano, San Miniato ( Florence Province) the first Sunday in October
Balconevisi, San Miniato ( Florence Province) the third Sunday in October
Montespertoli ( Siena Province) Third weekend in November
Borgo San Lorenzo, Mugello ( Florence Province) third weekend in November
Montaione ( Siena Province) Last weekend in October
Arezzo ( Arezzo Provoince) first weekend in October