The night before our truffle hunt, our little family had joked about the “hunting” aspect. Are truffles sneaky and fast? Might they get away if you aren’t quick enough with your attack? The next day we all giggled as we imagined rebellious and elusive truffles while our car wound through a maze of green misty hills towards our destination – a perfect backdrop for our impending adventure. The kids were giddy and excited as we came to a halt outside a gate that was hung with signs all in Italian but with the message coming through very clear – guns, knives, and bigger guns awaited you if you entered without warning. Wow, maybe this day was going to be more suspenseful than we imagined!
Moreno, our phenomenal guide, pointed us to the “other” gate that was marked in a friendlier fashion (only one GIANT padlock, but no scary signs) and adjacent to a huge fenced yard filled with the cuddliest, cutest, barking dogs I have ever seen. Despite the foreboding warning on our initial approach, when the hunter emerged from his house which is romantically nestled in the quiet of the Marche’s bliss, you could see his gentle spirit behind his blue eyes as well as the love he has for his dogs who are literally responsible for finding his income.
Giorgio, the truffle hunter, is a 3rd generation hunter, specializing in finding the treasured white truffle or tartufi bianco, and he has made his livliehood by perfecting the art of finding these amazing little buried gems. For the last 4 generations, the family has lived in the same home and hunted the same nearby hills that are although public property, rarely trodden on due to the remote location, except for those looking for the tartufi bianco nestled under looming oaks near small streams.
The hunt was about to begin and although we joked at first about “hunting truffles” our hunt will forever be engrained in our memories as a wonderful experience. The Italian people are passionate about everything that they do. I felt as if we were on the first hunt ever with Giorgio and his daughter as we shared in their energy and excitement. The hunt had began, the dogs bounding and leaping, sniffing and snorting. Almost right away we were close to finding one! Giorgio handed Moreno a scoop of fresh dirt and Moreno buried his nose into the pungent soil, whopping with excitement that we were near our goal! Earthy smells, warm and real – deep and satisfying filled the air as the dogs flung the soil wildly in search for the prize…
The care that the family took of their dogs, the love they have for their land and for preserving it’s beauty is astonishing. The love they have for each other and the attention they give to their guests is admirable. Giorgio and his daughter were happy to have our boys pet their dogs and marvel at the truffles that are the source of income that feeds their family. They were happy to share with complete strangers their art, proud as they should be of the simple and beautiful life that they live. Our family has been enamoured with this way of life, and eager to take what we have learned and apply it to our own idealogies. Live simply. Tread softly. Love deeply. Eat well.
Now, please come along with us on our truffle hunt and enjoy this short video highlighting our day! Next blog post coming soon when I share with you my cooking experiences in the Marche before we move on to Rome!!