Our truffle hunt experience with Wild Foods Italy was much more than just a truffle hunt – it was full immersion into rural Umbrian culture. Not only did we get to accompany truffle hunters and their dogs into the woods to find truffles, we also got a close look at the traditional life of people who make their living from the land. We met the shepherd with his flock of sheep, went into the cantina for wine and prosciutto made from the family pigs, and watched pasta being made by hand as it has been for many years.
Truffle Hunting Day with Wild Foods Italy
I’ve been on truffle hunts before, usually where they’ve buried a few truffles in advance so that the dogs will be sure to dig up something while we watch. But this was much different. We watched as excited dogs combed the wooded hillside for truffles, alerting the truffle hunters who then dug them up and rewarded the dogs, explaining to us how it worked.
We were taken in 4-wheel drive vehicles by Luca and Alessandro into the woods with the dogs in back. ready for action. After parking, they took a few minutes to tell us about truffles and the dogs, who they have trained and raised themselves. They told us that since truffles grow by the same trees every year, a good truffle hunter must remember all the spots.
Then they let the dogs loose and we followed along as they found truffles. We stopped to smell the freshly dug truffles and to admire the views. From where we were, we could see the village of Pettino, where we started, spread out below us. Since it was late October, some of the trees had beautiful fall colors too.
After gathering a few truffles, we got back into the vehicles to go to a scenic spot at the top of the hill. Here we were treated to their pecorino cheese, made from the milk of the sheep we also got to meet as they came by us with the shepherd. He’s from New Zealand, although related to the family who owns the shepherd, and moved here a few years ago.
Next we got a real treat. Luca set up a little camp stove and scrambled eggs (from the chickens we had seen in the village) and served the eggs topped with freshly grated truffle. It doesn’t get fresher or better than this! We were also served a glass of Prosecco.
Truffle Lunch with Local Foods
Our experience wasn’t over yet though. We headed back to the village where we went into the cantina for homemade wine and slices of prosciutto, produced right there at the farm. Slices of bread were put on the grill and served with homemade olive oil. We watched as Francesca made pasta on a table in the cantina. Without measuring she mixed together the flour and eggs with her hands, kneaded it, then rolled out the dough with a large rolling pin, and finally cut it into strips. We had the pasta topped with freshly grated truffles for our lunch, followed by homemade grilled sausages. It was really a local foods lunch.
It was a great learning experience and a fun and tasty day!
Wild Foods Italy
Visiting the village of Pettino is really an amazing experience that few visitors to Italy get to have. Pettino is an unusual village of farms that have been owned by the same families since 1486. All the people are descendants of these families, mostly carrying on the traditional way of life as it has been for centuries. Francesca is the cook but also owns 300 sheep from which she makes pecorino cheese. Alesandro and Luca are truffle hunters but also have farms with pigs and cows and make their own prosciutto and sausages.
Wild Foods Italy offers truffle hunts several days a week by reservation. It’s possible to come as a day trip to Rome, a complete contrast to the lively city. A 1.5 hour train ride takes you to Spoleto and from there, transportation can be provided to get you to Pettino, about half an hour away. Or you can stay in nearby Umbrian towns such as Spello, Assisi, Perugia, or Spoleto and either drive up yourself or arrange transportation.
But for the ultimate experience, stay at the Black Truffle Lodge, right on the property. 2 luxurious apartments, with large jacuzzi in the bathroom, are available for guests who wish to experience rural life for a couple of nights or longer. All meals are provided so it’s a great place to relax, participate in a truffle hunt or wild boar hunt, or take a cooking class.
- Read about our experience at the Black Truffle Lodge, including a video of the truffle hunt.
- See Wild Foods Italy for truffle hunting and Black Truffle Lodge details.
Disclaimer: We participated in the truffle hunt and stayed at the lodge as guests of Wild Foods Italy, however the opinion expressed in the article is my own.
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