A cuisine gem
Truffle lovers special package that includes a white truffle dinner at our restaurant and a truffle hunt with dogs trained especially for this activity is what is offered from October to December by Monsignor della Casa Country Resort. The hunts takes place on the land of the Villa where Monsignor Giovanni della casa was born.
The history of truffles
During the first century a.c., Pliny the Elder offered the first description, that we have evidence of, of what truffles were ("tuberum"). Skipping to the modern era, in Pliny’s treatise dated 1475 “De honesta voluptate", we come across the first information regarding white truffle hunting in Tuscany. During the sixteenth century, as reported by Messiburgo and Scappi’s works (who also mentions the "Suppa di Tartufoli", truffle soup), the hypogeum mushroom, that grows underground, becomes part of aristocratic and upper middle class tradition.
In the seventeenth century, especially in Tuscany, truffle trade started to become more frequent and more and more recipes were being published. For instance “veal tongue in truffle sauce”, "Cull di pernice" (partridge dish) and truffled quail.
At the beginning of the nineteenth century, the novelist Alexandre Dumas praised truffles, while others such as the magistrate Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, said it had aphrodisiac powers. Furthermore, while in the past black truffle was preferred, during the nineteenth century, as reported by some treatises such as Vialardi’s (cook of Charles Albert and Victor Emmanuel of Savoy), the fortune of the white truffle grew. In fact, Artrusi, author of "La scienza in cucina e l'arte di mangiar bene" (knowledge in the kitchen and the art of eating well), takes the side of the “white” partisans rather than the “black” partisans.
During the twentieth century, in regions like Piemonte, Umbria, Marche and Tuscany, truffle hunting was very common. Although nowadays Tuscany is the home of truffles, it is true that it is particularly productive when it comes to white truffles (the "Tuber magnatum pico"), the finest among edible truffles. Nowadays, there are more or less 3500 truffle hunters, 9 truffle associations and six different areas of origin. The business is estimated around 12 million euro per annum. The will is to obtain a “guarantee of origin” for Tuscan truffles.
Although in literature there are many references to the use of sows, nowadays trained dogs are mainly used for this activity, that is allowed between September and December only. Hunters also use a tool that is shaped like a small spade. The areas in which truffles grow, especially black truffles, can be identified due to the lack of grass.
Truffle areas exposed towards south generally grow earlier, followed by the ones exposed to east and west and finally by the ones exposed to north..
National authorities identified five main areas in Tuscany in which truffle is produced: Casentino, the Sanminiatesi hills, Val Tiberina, Crete Senesi and Mugello, valley extending from the North of Florence to the Tuscan-Emilian Appennines. The "Tuber magnatum pico" which grows in the Mugello area, with its strong and pleasant smell, can vary in shape and can weigh over 1 kg. It costs more or less 2200 euro per kilo but can even reach 5000,00 per kilo.
In order to honour truffles, with the patronage of the public authorities, Mugello truffle associations organize many markets among which Villa Pecori market in Borgo San Lorenzo, Barberino di Mugello and Scarperia market, and even an “International Tuscan truffle auction” held in the Medici Castle in Cafaggiolo, in which the most prestigious truffles are bid.