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Tartufo Bianco - La Cerca

Searching for the fine white truffle, the so called Acqualagna’s truffle or Alba’s truffle

Collection period: from the end of September to 31 December

The fine white truffle is called in different ways: Rapone, Alba’s truffle, Acqualagna’s truffle or with his Latin name Tuber Magnatum Pico.
It is the truffle par excellence.

The basic concept it’s the same as always: a man, a dog, a truffle.

This triad reaches his best expression in the search for a fine white truffle.

We have to be honest and distinguish between different types of search: black trufflebianchetto white truffle and fine white truffle.

Searching for the fine white truffle is different: it is so expansive because it’s also the hardest to find.

It really is the treasure of the ground.

There are many factors influencing its grown.

Personally, I consider it a fascinating and poetic search, first of all for the typical colours and scents of the woods during the white truffle season.

Imagine entering a forest at dawn: the morning cobwebs in the mist, the dewdrops on grass, the autumnal red and yellow leaves…It is worth waking up early and walking for hours just to witness all this beauty.

Now try to combine this amazing picture with the complexity of the discovery and the dog’s action during the search.

The truffle man knows the places where to lead the dog but he doesn’t know the exact point where the truffle hides. I remember my early years of search, my Grandfather Gino used to tell me: “Follow the dog, trust it, it knows where the truffle was born, it knows where to go”.

Over time we discovered new spots, we detected old footprints, we got more experience, we built our own archive (I do it myself: every day I report in my diary the date of the discovery, the place, the plant nearby, the shape and the weight of the truffle; it is a heritage for my son Tommaso, if he will follow my path). Every season the same scene occurs: every evening before going to bed, I read my diary studying the route for the following day, hoping to find again, in that same wood or in that ditch, the precious truffle as the year before.

That is why I say that searching for a fine white truffle (or “Rapone” as it’s commonly called around Acqualagna) is like writing and living a novel every day .
You get up early in the morning with many expectations, hoping to find and discover a wonderful truffle, but unfortunately sometimes you will write a totally different story with a disappointing end.

I would be a hypocrite if I said I was not disappointed to return with empty pockets; anyway I come back home peacefully and glad for having spent a beautiful day in the nature.

Someone might think that using the word “mystic” to describe a truffle hunting experience is a bit too much, but now that I’m writing this, I believe it is exactly the perfect word.

I think about when at dawn, I get out of the car in the thick dark wood with my dogs, and take an apparently accidental path. Actually I am following a mysterious track that has been there since time immemorial.
The dogs start immediately “dancing” while checking every spot of the underwood, filtering the countless smells they perceive until they finally arrive – as attracted by a magnetic force – to the point, where, touched their nose to the ground, they begin vehemently the ritual of excavation.

This precise moment brings me back to reality and I am immediately overwhelmed by a whirlwind of emotions. That is the fascination of discovery and it is different and compelling every time.
And now it is time for excavation.
You stand on your knees as if you were praying, you take a handful of soil and you bring it to your nose, to smell the scent of truffle. Soon after, depending on the intensity you ask the dog to continue digging the “hole”.

Slow actions: truffle requires time! Breaking it would be a violation, as well as an economic disadvantage.

Under the watchful eye of the dog, that controls and sniffs every little movement I make, with the help of my spade and my fingers I calmly start discovering the truffle carefully, when suddenly from the dark of the earth I can see the unmistakable yellow shade. My heartbeat accelerates, the curiosity is too much! With a finger I start digging all around, to know the real size of the treasure awaiting me.
Once freed from the soil and the roots, with the handle of the spade I extract it from the ground, I bring it to my nose, and after sniffing it with delight I show it to the excited dog who is expecting now his earned reward…

I put the truffle carefully in my pocket after cleaning it, then I cover the hole made to extract the truffle putting leaves and branches over the soil, so that no one can see where I found it.
It’s our secret!

The tour continues, I occasionally take from the pockets the found truffles admiring and pampering them. New discoveries occur, each one in different way, but the results it’s the same: the finding of the most fragrant treasure of the ground.

So now when you are at the restaurant ready to taste a dish with truffles, think as well of the feelings and emotions that it can give even before being eaten.