Truffle hunting in the Piedmont
The hunt of the white truffle (tartufo bianco in Italian) in Piedmont is traditionally done with the help of dogs, unlike France where pigs are used. In Piedmonts’ dialect, the hunter is called Trifoulau.
The hunt takes place in the picturesque region of the Langhe and Monferato, where the best truffles of the world grow in the wild. By law, white truffles can only be hunted from September to December.
White truffles grow on the roots of certain trees, such as oak, walnut and poplar.
The undisputed protagonist of the white truffle hunt is the dog who finds the truffles by their smell, even if they are at a considerable depth. When a truffle is located the dog starts to make a hole. Then, it is the hunter himself who picks it up from the ground taking care not to damage its roots so that it is intact.
The truffle has a very special and specific smell. This aroma intensifies gradually, in a few hours, after being extracted from the soil.
During the official hunting, this unusual smell envelops the entire area of Alba and is perceived in almost every home, cafeteria and restaurant.
Being a specific product of the hills of Piedmont, it is a gastronomic rarity. From the 18th century it was considered one of the most exquisite delicacies, already in high demand at European royal courts. The famous Italian composer Gioachino Rossini called the truffle "the Mozart among mushrooms". There is evidence of the use of truffles since the ancient Roman times.
According to the legend, the truffle was created by a magical transformation when water, heat and lightning hit Jupiter, who fired his arrows of fire, one of them falling next to an oak tree.
During the period from September to December can be organized tours to go hunting for truffles through the Langhe hills and in the midst of a quiet nature, full of aromas, lively sounds and autumnal colours. These excursions can be ideally combined with visits to local wineries, gastronomic tours and an excursion to Turin.