Legend has it that truffles were born by a lightning hurled by the Greek god Zeus next to an oak tree.
The alleged aphrodisiac properties of truffle might be linked to this legend, as the love affairs of the Greek god are no mystery to anyone. Maybe this belief led the majority of people during the Middle Age to believe that this tuber was indeed the devil’s food, shared by him with his covens of witches.
The legend might have also been inspired by the Greek biographer Plutarch, who stated that the tuber was the result of water, heat and lightening combined.
A brief history
Truffle is a hypogenous fungus already known in ancient times by Sumerians and Babylonians, and also familiar to Etruscans and very much appreciated during the Roman Empire. Abandoned during the Middle Age due to religious controversy, its fame and prestige were restored during the Renaissance.
But it is only during the 19th century that truffle became the subject of specific studies by botanicals and mycologists, in particular by the Italian Carlo Vittadini who classified at least 65 different species of truffle and to whom we owe the birth of the science studying truffles.
Truffle owes its worldwide fame to the Italian hotelier and restaurant owner Giacomo Morra, native from Alba, in the region Piedmont. During the 1950’s this gentleman began what would today be called ‘ a smart marketing strategy’: he shipped his white Alba truffle as a gift to sport celebrities like Joe di Maggio, movie stars like Marilyn Monroe, even the President of the United States Harry Truman. It was an immediate success.
Truffle in Tuscany
The white Alba truffle is undoubtedly the most famous in the world, but Tuscany can also boast on its own reputation regarding this precious tuber. The white truffle of San Miniato – the place is between Florence and Pisa – or the one from San Giovanni d’Asso in the province of Siena are just as good as their renowned cousin from Piedmont.
The quality of Tuscan truffles is now famous worldwide, as much as all the local food festivals and events can prove: starting with Volterragusto – a food and wine event based in Volterra, one of the Tuscan gems – until the Mercato Nazionale del Tartufo Bianco (National White Truffle Market) in San Miniato. Aside from the truffle itself, many local products infused with its aroma can be purchased: oil, butter, cheese and even truffle-flavoured honey.
From the woods to the table: truffle as a holiday idea in Tuscany
An all-around sensory experience not to be missed during your Tuscan stay is the one of truffle hunting accompanied by a local expert who will unveil all the secrets of the undergrowth. Tartufaia di San Gimignano is only a few minutes away from Hotel Certaldo and offers a chance to live this unique adventure. You will explore and analyze the undergrowth with a local truffle hunter and his dog gaining useful and interesting information about this product, until you will see the actual hunt begin. Truffle tasting will follow and then it will also be possible to purchase the product if you like.
Hotel Certaldo Staff will gladly help the guests in booking this service and will provide information on restaurants with truffle menus and direct sale.