Savini Tartufi's truffle experience
Truffle hunting with a special guide, Cristiano Savini
Hiking boots and comfortable trousers on, we arrive at the entrance of the Boscone estate in Forcoli late in the morning, where we had arranged to meet: an enchanted and silent forest, sandy soil, scents of moist ferns, poplars and oaks. We are in the province of Pisa, in a very green area away from mass tourism that stretches over Tuscany to the hills of the Chianti areas close to Florence and Siena. Mission of the day: truffle hunting. We know it is not that common to meet at this time for such events, but Cristiano Savini – fourth generation of truffle hunters and traders- has been so kind not to ask us to get up at the typical ungodly hour of 3:00 a.m., as he himself does when he doesn’t have to travel for work, together with the other 650 truffle hunters who have joined his family company to give life to a gastronomic sector of a very high quality acknowledged at an international level. “I know this forest like the back of my hand” says Cristiano, who found in this area an impressive white truffle of 1.450 Kilograms in 2007.
“This is the forest where my grandfather Zelindo, who was a farmer” he continues “became aware, during the Sixties, of the value of these precious tubers which was still underestimated over here”. Riding his Vespa scooter –which is kept by his grandnephews in the family shop in Piazza d’Ascanio, in front of the many cans in the shop windows and a desk where people can taste the shop’s truffle specialties- Zelindo started to get the attention of the truffle hunters of the area and to carry the first truffles to Milan and Piedmont, until this became his profession. The white truffle season starts at the end of September and lasts the whole Winter, that of the Bianchetto truffle (or Marzuolo) in March, and then it is the turn of the Nero Liscio and the Scorzone. This means fresh truffles and truffle experiences (like this, all open to everybody upon reservation) the whole year”, says young Mr. Savini, as we get prepared for our truffle experience, accompanied by Luca –an expert truffle hunter who uses to accompany people in these unique adventures- and, above all, by the quick King of this truffle hunt, Giotto, the undisputed star of the estate, a 9-year-old cross-bred, male dog trained to search for truffles.
“All dogs can be trained to search for truffles, they just need to be quick, strong and have excellent nose” explains Cristiano. But is there a breed which is best for this purpose? “the Lagotto Romagnolo, but the most important thing is to personally train them, in this case any dog with short legs, strong build and keen nose is ok; and another thing to remember..” he hastens to add “this is like a game for dogs, not a job, and it is important that they continue to consider it as a game”. In less than one hour we spotted three small diamonds sticking out of the soil, smelling differently depending on the soil in which they grew but with the same intense notes that make archaic sensations reach with power the brain through the nose, accompanied by amazing olfactory notes of condensed moist wood and hypnotizing wild vibrations.
Once we are back again at the estate, we meet other famous names in the Italian food and wine sector that have gathered in Forcoli for a day of special day of sharing: Ursini, Biscottificio MatteiDeseo, Pasta Mancini, Il Borgo del Balsamico, La Via del Tè, La Nicchia di Pantelleria have created, togetherwith Savini Tartufi, a group of friends and producers, the ‘Unici’, aimed at joining together to achieve two ambitious targets: the best quality of products and eye-catching appearance. Special recipes by starred Chef Marco Stabile of the Ora d’Aria in Florence. And it is also in moments like these that you are happy to be in Italy.