Truffle Hunting in Italy

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As we were tucking into a sensational plate of spaghetti with fresh black truffles the other night, it was mentioned that maybe, just possibly, we could go truffle hunting in Italy. A lady knew a lady who had a truffle dog and she maybe, just possibly, would take us on a truffle hunting expedition. Umbria is famous for truffles, we’ve enjoyed all sorts of truffle scented dishes here. This adventure had ears pricking up, it sounded like a once in a lifetime chance.

truffle hunting in Italy
Our truffle hunter needs to remain anonymous, but please share this to Pinterest, just hover and click.

Truffle Hunting in Italy is a Serious Business

We all know how expensive truffles are, so productive truffle grounds are well kept secrets and truffling expeditions are a private affair. I can’t tell you where we went, nor give away the identity of our truffle finding host.

I’ll just say that she was gorgeous, as only Italian ladies can be gorgeous while digging about in mud and thrashing their way through woodland undergrowth.

A machete would have been good, you don’t find truffles on paths.

Truffle Hunting in Italy
Our under-cover truffle hunter leads the kids into the Italian woods

The trufflers have to be licensed and the truffle grounds are protected by an ancient code of honour. It would be extremely bad manners to trespass on another truffle hunter’s patch.

We had to keep quiet, look harmless and not spill the beans.

Truffles are Found By Pigs, Right?

No! It’s been illegal to use pigs for truffle hunting in Italy since 1985. The hogs caused too much damage and reduced truffle production.

These days dogs find the fungus. Beautiful, clever dogs like our gorgeous new friend below, lets call her Lulu, for secrecy’s sake.

Good truffle dogs are sometimes poisoned by rival trufflers, I’d hate for that to happen to Lulu and her owner.

Truffle hunting in Italy dog
A beautiful dog with an amazing nose for truffles.

Finding Truffles

We met up with Lulu and her owner on a deserted country road and set off, walking slowly, enjoying the countryside at a leisurely, child-friendly pace.

Before we’d walked 100m Lulu shot off into the roadside vegetation and started digging with her paws. Our guide raced over, helped excavate the truffle, gave Lulu a sniff of it to show her it was a good one, and rewarded her with cheese.

There is a chance that truffle dogs will eat their finds, so owners have to get to them quickly. That was it, all there is to it.

Lulu found four more truffles in that spot before we moved on.

Truffles Italy

All truffle hunters have favourite spots, we visited a few. The truffler told us that on one day a particular spot had yielded 10Kg of truffles. On this day there were none.

We climbed banks, slipped down mud slides, thrashed through brambles, trees and long grass. There were no paths to follow, Lulu would follow her nose.

In all, we found around 20 truffles. In a typical year, our hunter finds around 20Kg.

Was the Truffle Hunting Trip Suitable For Children?

The youngest child with us was 7 months old, he was in a baby carrier and was an absolute angel, the eldest was 10.

We walked a fair way over 2.5 hours, there were some steep ascents and descents and a lot of brambles and some barbed wire to negotiate.

Truffle hunting with dogs in Italy
Kids roaming through the woods after our expert guide, accompanied by a couple of dogs. What could be better?

Carrying the baby was hard in that terrain but the other kids did great. They need sensible shoes, my boys wore crocs, they wear crocs for everything.

Hiking shoes, Wellingtons, or covered walking shoe would be fine. Thick long trousers would be best to prevent bramble scratches but one little girl did OK in shorts.

There are tics in the undergrowth, so bug spray and trousers tucked into socks is a good idea.

Black truffles found by the dogs in Italy
Our haul of black truffles.

We found around 20 individual truffles. Good spots yielded several, some spots were empty or had unripe or over-blown specimens.

At the end of the day, we each had a truffle or two to take home. Treat them like mushrooms, don’t wash them, just scrub them with a brush then grate on cooked dishes.

Cooking destroys their flavour. Ours are destined for the freezer where they keep well, World Travel Chef is going to be very happy indeed!

World Travel Family are visiting Umbria as guests of Our Whole Village. For more information on their trips and philosophy try this post or check out Our Whole Village website. There’s plenty there for travellers of all ages, armchair and actual.

If you enjoyed Truffle Hunting in Italy you can read more about our highlights of Italy in these posts:

Riding a Bird Cage in Gubbio Umbria

Food in Umbria

Making Pasta, a Cooking Class and an Amazing Lunch.

Our Amazing Family Friendly Villa in Italy

If you'd like to hire a car during your stay, use this car rental comparison tool to find the best deal!

We also suggest you take a look at this company to get a quote for all kinds of the more tricky adventure or extended travel insurance.

Try Stayz / VRBO for an alternative way to find rentals on homes/apartments/condos in any country!

About the author
Alyson Long
Alyson Long is a British medical scientist who jumped ship to chase dreams. A former Chief Biomedical Scientist at London's West Middlesex Hospital she started in website creation and travel writing in 2011. Alyson is a full-time blogger and travel writer, a published author, and owns several websites. World Travel Family is the biggest. A lifetime of wanderlust and over 6 years of full-time travel, plus a separate 12 month gap year, has given Alyson and the family some travel expert smarts to share with you on this world travel site. Today Alyson still travels extensively to update this site and continue her mission to visit every country, but she's often at home on her farm in Australia.

23 thoughts on “Truffle Hunting in Italy”

  1. Do you mind sharing your contact for truffle hunting? I am bringing my 10 year old to Italy for 15 days next month. Thank you.

    • hi Yvonne, if the name of the hotel isn’t in the post I can’t remember sorry. The truffle hunting was a one off, top secret.

  2. This is the best thing to do as you know that black truffles are very much expensive.

  3. Hunting truffles now a days is likely becoming a trend not just because of the the variety of culinary use of it but it also comes with a very high price tag. A lot of people would pay extra just to get a hold of a very delicious, delicate, and hard to find truffles. On the question how expensive truffles really are, you can read and watch this article about truffle hunting to learn more from

  4. We have gone morel mushroom hunting in our home state of Michigan and in Indiana, so we’ll definitely need to add this to our trip to Italy. Thanks for sharing!

  5. That is SO amazing! I’ve been planning my trip to Italy and I had no idea that going truffle hunting was possible, it’s seems so much fun! I’ve already booked some great italy family tours with this site but I’m definitely going to look up a truffle hunting option to make the trip even more awesome ๐Ÿ™‚
    Thank you for sharing your adventure!

  6. I like truffles! Especially ones on the pizzas in Italy… I think my dog would be a great truffle hunter – she has such a good sense of smell. Looks a lot like Lulu here too. That’s awesome that they freeze well – lucky you to have them whenever you want! I’ve never found anything but the oil here in the States.

  7. Wow, you found quite a lot of truffles! I like the their taste and even if people say it’s quite strong, I personally enjoy having it every now and then, if only they weren’t so expensive!

    • Crazy prices in Australia! Chef told me the 5 we brought home would be $500 worth back there. But in Umbria…cheap as chips. To use a qualint Australian saying. We love them, kids love them too. Totally in love with Italy by the way Franca.

  8. I’ve never heard of truffle hunting before. Sounds interesting though. I love wildlife adventures and this sure sounds adventurous. Great clicks too ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. I’ve seen truffle hunting in movies, but never really gave much thought to it. That’s interesting that they banned the use of pigs, but I can definitely see why. It’s awful that rivals will kill other truffler’s dogs. That’s just sad. I hope Lulu stays safe and finds many more truffles in her life.

  10. What!? I still thought it was pigs who found all the truffles. My husband would absolutely love this, I do love truffles but he is mad into them. Looks like a great day out with the kids too, now where to find such a lady with a truffle dog…. ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. Sounds like fun – what a beautiful and clever dog! I bet Chef was upset to miss this trip ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. Now, doesn’t truffle hunting in Umbria, Italy sound like fun! Several years ago, we dug for mushrooms on Vancouver Island at a resort – then drank mushroom martinis and ate the mushrooms for lunch, which the chef cooked up.

  13. It sounds like a great day! You’ll have to try to come back with Chef sometime. I have some family members who love fine food and cooking and I can hardly wait for them to experience the awesome food culture in Italy!


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