A Honest Review of Truffle Hunting with Dogs in Tuscany Italy & Everything You Need to Know
Truffle hunting is something my husband and I have always wanted to do and where could be more scenic to do it than in Tuscany, Italy. After a lot of research, we found this private truffle hunting tour via our hotel; Como Castello Del Nero. We loved the idea of exploring the local village with a truffle hunter and his Italian truffle hunting dog Ufo. This private truffle hunting experience is followed by a truffle tasting lunch with what we’d foraged. It doesn’t get much more authentic or fresh.
The truffle hunting tour experience and lunch was the absolute highlight of our Tuscany visit. We booked this private tour through our hotel. We paid full price for this tour (it wasn’t gifted) and I can’t recommend this experience enough. It was beyond amazing and so memorable with our truffle hunter Jacopo and his Italian truffle hunting dog Ufo (short for Tartufo meaning truffle).
Do they use Italian truffle hunting dogs or pigs in Italy?
You might have thought it was pigs and not dogs that are used for truffle hunting, especially if you’ve watched the Nicholas Cage movie ‘Pig’. The Italians and many other countries now use dogs as using truffle hunting pigs are banned in Italy because:
Their overeager rooting damages the truffles’ delicate mycelia, the spore-holding web necessary for the fungi’s reproduction. Also, it’s pretty dangerous to get between a 300-kilogram pig and a truffle it’s determined to eat.CNN Travel
Plus pigs are more likely to eat the truffle than dogs.
Truffle Hunting in Tuscany Italy
On a bright sunny morning, we met with our truffle hunter Jacopo and his Italian truffle hunting dog in Val Di Pisa. He led us out of the tiny village along the winding country road into the Tuscan countryside. It was in this forest that Ufo caught scent of the black truffles and they were off.
The 2 of them were clambering up and down the hills, talking with each other, carefully unearthing truffles. It was incredible watching and learning as Jacopo and Ufo worked together and the relationship they have. Wow, do they know what they’re doing and he’s incredibly passionate about what he does.
The dog starts the dig frantically where he catches the scent. Then the truffle hunter Jacopo would tell him to be gentle or stop and he’d go in and finish pulling up the black fungi. They didn’t care if there was a huge ant hill or mosquitoes. They were all about finding the truffles, whatever it took.
After he felt we’d exhausted that area we walked back to the Abbey of San Michele Arcangelo a Passignano/Badia di Passignano. It’s a historic Benedictine abbey located on a scenic hilltop surrounded by cypresses. Being with Jacopo, gave us access to the private park to hunt for truffles in the cool shade provided by the ancient trees.
Pro Tip: If you book this tour wear plenty of mosquito repellant and bring it with you. I’m not exaggerating when I say we’ve never seen so many in one place and they always love me.
Val Di Pisa Wine Shop
We collected so many black summer truffles my pockets were overflowing. After an hour or so of truffle hunting we headed across the road to the village wine shop. I say village because there’s only 24 residents here and that includes the monks at the working monastery. It’s how you imagine and idealize Tuscany minus any crowds.
After truffle hunting in the sun, the cold Prosecco was most welcome. I don’t normally like or drink Prosecco as it’s too acidic but wherever we went in Italy it was so good! It might be like Greece where they keep the good stuff for themselves!
The owner of the wine shop was a wealth of knowledge. We discovered a few new wines we like, including the rosé wine ‘Alie’ which even my husband likes and he doesn’t like rosés. After this we headed next door to Antica Scuderia for the truffle and wine pairing lunch where our truffle hunting bounty was put to use.
Truffle & Wine Pairing Lunch, Val Di Pisa Tuscany
The truffle tasing lunch blew our minds. Sitting there on the empty terrace overlooking Tuscany’s green and golden landscape, listening to the church bells and indulging in some of the best food in our lives was magical and memorable. When it comes to serving truffles, simplicity is key so you can really taste the flavors. Jacopo selected the best truffle from our haul for us to have on our table and to shave onto each course.
The rest went to the kitchen for our feast.
Truffle and wine pairing menu
- Burrata with truffle.
- Fresh pasta in a light cream and truffle sauce.
- Seared steak with truffle
- Gelato (not truffle flavor thankfully!).
Thankfully we had no plans for the afternoon as a much needed poolside food siesta was in order. Neither of us were really hungry in the evening so we just called the hotel room service and enjoyed the living room of our suite in bath robes and slippers with some more wine and to reminisce about the day.
The Gold Rush | Winter white truffle hunting season
We need to go back October to late December or early January for the elusive gold rush: white truffle hunting season! It’s the mild Tuscan climate and soil rich in mineral salts which make it the perfect breeding ground for top quality truffles.
Book Your Hotel and Private Truffle Hunting Tour in Tuscany, Italy
5 perfect days in Tuscany
We spent 5 days in Tuscany and although this was the highlight for us, we’re so glad we gave this area the time it deserved. Get all of my hindsights, travel tips and itinerary: Best of Tuscany in 5 Perfect Days | Luxury Travel Guide.
Eve Dawes is a Blogger, Podcaster, Mrs. England World 2020, a WBFF Pro Diva, SAG-AFTRA actress, NASM certified Personal Trainer, Founder of Dawes Custom Cosmetics and GlamourandGains.com. Eve's also the host of BFF (beauty, fitness & fashion) segment on Spill The Tea Live! The show for British Expats. Eve has over 15 years experience in the fashion world, is an avid traveller and cruelty-free beauty advocate.