One of the main reasons why Italy has such a world renowned, delicious and timeless gastronomic tradition is due to the unique ingredients found on the land. One which has dominated the luxury food market for centuries and further contributed to putting Italy on the fine dining map is truffles, both the black variety and the extremely rare white variety. Truffle season is upon us, and the regions which have the fortune of possessing the correct geological and climatic conditions for truffles to flourish. This is our Top 5: Truffle festivals to enjoy during the months of October and November from Piedmont to Tuscany.
Borgofranco sul Po kicks off the truffle centric events of 2015’s Strada del Tartufo Mantovano. In fact, from Felonica to Quistello, is a truffle “treasure map” which runs along the right bank of the Po River. In any of these towns in the period of October (this year for 3 weekends starting from the 2nd October) you’ll find all sorts of truffle celebrations. If you’re looking for something more permanent, then head to the Truffle Museum located in Borgofranco.
In the province of Asti, Moncalvo is an ancient town with an ancient history of truffles. In the town archives there’s a bill for a 4 kg truffle dating back to 1594. As well as a delicious sagra dedicated to the truffles, Monclavo also offers delights for the aesthetes as well as the foodies. Once there drop by the 16th century church with beautiful frescoes by Guglielmo Caccia, aka il Moncalvo, and his daughter, Orsola.
Possibly the most important truffle fair of the season is a true delight for truffle maniacs all over the world. With international guests, culinary workshops, litres of incredible Piedmontese wine, as well as cultural activities, the town of Alba comes alive with the sights, smells and excitement of truffles for an entire 40 days from October to November. There is plenty going on as well as the sale and consumption of truffles, so make sure not to miss the Truffle Bacchanal, featuring the typical festivities of the Middle Ages, which of course include truffles and wine. This year it begins on the 17th October.
In the area characterized by the Baganza river in the province of Parma, the picturesque borgo of Calestano becomes invaded by the unique black truffle of Fragno. This particular species of truffle, which became protected as of 1991, is consumed largely fresh. From the 18th October and for 5 beautiful Sundays visitors can walk along the cobbled streets of Calestano and discover this particular truffle, prepared in a variety of ways, from traditional Emiliano recipes to contemporary street food.
As well as the unmissable white truffles of the area, make sure to visit during the anachronistic Palio dei Caci (25th October), where locals race each other rolling large cheese wheels around the town. Also in Tuscany on the 7th November, at San Giovanni d’Asso the Mostra mercato del Tartufo Bianco delle Crete Senesi. Visit taking the Treno Natura (powered by an antique steam engine) which leaves from Grosseto Siena on the 8th November and Grosseto on the 14th. On the 14th November is the San Minato, one of the highlights of the truffle season in Tuscany, where Michelin starred chefs and local trifolai come together in a unique celebration of the landscape and produce. r.