Truffle Hunt

November 12, 2010 / Local Interest
Citta' di Castello, Umbria

After decades as a truffle aficionado (read: enthusiastic consumer), I was curious to see real truffle hunters at work.

Though truffles are a staple of the Umbrian diet and found on menus across this central Italian region, these elusive fungi usually grow under the forest floor and only the nose of a real truffle dog can roust them out. Trained as pups, these canine hunters are used by professional and amateur foragers to locate their woodland treasures.

To see a real hunter (and his human) in action, I spent a day with the delightful Saverio and Gabriella from Tartufi Bianconi in Città di Castello. Saverio took me along on a truffle hunt in the hills surrounding the Upper Tiber Valley and showed me his fascinating private collection of truffle related memorabilia and curiosities back at their truffle processing plant. 

trufflehunt3Afterwards, Gabriella welcomed me into her kitchen for a tasting of the precious earthy-flavoured local tubers and a truffle-themed home-cooked lunch using all local ingredients and products in the Bianconi’s gourmet truffle line. After 25 years of enjoying truffles, I felt I had finally discovered how to distinguish between them and use each variety to its best advantage—knowledge I will be using to my best advantage at future dinner parties!

Tartufi Bianconi – To organize your own truffle hunt and cooking experience with Saverio and Gabriella, you can contact them directly through their website. They offer private or group packages which can include a simple tasting after your jaunt in the woods, or a full-blown cooking class.

These photos were used by kind permission of photographer Carlo Franchi. His work can be viewed at




Rebecca Winke

by Rebecca Winke

Owner of Brigolante Apartments, a restored 16th century stone farmhouse / guesthouse in the heart of Umbria near Assisi, and blogger of life in Umbria. For tips and insider information about visiting Umbria, download her Umbria Slow App and see her writings on her personal website!

7 Responses to “Truffle Hunt”

  1. It is so wonderful that these treasures are within a short distance for you.

    I have never had the privilege of tasting these jewels.


  2. Evanne

    I loved this, Rebecca, and have wondered what it would be like to follow a hunter and his dog to search for truffles. Do you know the difference between truffle hunting dogs or pigs and whether one is better than the other?

  3. Gian Banchero

    Over the years I’ve enjoyed at the family’s table in Piemonte the famous white truffle, always over buttered HOMEMADE buttered noodles and occasionally in a meat sauce along with plump juicy field mushrooms… Oh, what a joy that is too, too costly to enjoy here in the States. The luscious perfume of the fresh tuber is impossible to explain, it would be like trying to explain the flavor of chocolate to someone who has never tasted it. To my sensibilities the truffle should/must be prepared as simply as possible due to its wonderful ethereal complexities, though in small, small amounts can be used to enhance some sauces. With pigs one must watch out in that they’ll eat a truffle as soon as they unearth it whereas a dog gladly gives it up to the truffle hunter…Thanks for the memories, Rebecca.

  4. un’altra delizia italiana!Sono veramente buoni!Non vedo l’ora di andare in Italia e mangiarli.

  5. Karim Amani

    I loved it and are interested in it, how and where can I buy an hunting dog.


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