The truffle search
Dive in the life of the trifulau for a day, wander through the woods and find the precious underground mushroom
A mysterious and fascinating ingredient, a secret and complex profession: that between the trifulau and his dog is a close relationship made of trust and mutual respect, which is born only after many years of experience.
Few have the opportunity to experience this moment of search in first person, precisely because of its secret nature. The trifulau are in fact used to go around alone, sometimes at night, away from prying eyes.
The truffle is a limited commodity that grows only in certain areas, in specific and never certain habitats … The interest in keeping these places hidden is therefore understandable! No?
So why are we taking you with us?
For two reasons: one because we believe that the only way to fully understand the uniqueness and quality of our truffles is to see us at work, and the second because it is true that we reveal some secrets … But not all of them ;-)
Although this is an actual “search”, with a professional trifulau and his favorite “tabui” (dog), what you will participate in is a simulated activity. This simply means that some of the truffles are buried in advance by the Trifulau in order to demonstrate how the work is done.
However, since the search takes place in a natural truffle ground, it is possible that truffles not artificially buried, but spontaneously grown on the spot, are also found!
What does the research consist of? Here’s everything you need to know …
You will be led, with your vehicle, among the beautiful hills of the Langhe to admire the suggestive view and follow the paths where the truffle grows. You will experience 90 minutes of real research with a professional Trifulau and his inseparable dog. A unique, unforgettable and fun experience.
Walking in the woods with Massimiliano Bertello and his inseparable little dog Kelly, you will discover the secrets and traditional research techniques, you will understand how, where and why the Alba White Truffle is born.
You can witness the fascinating dynamic between the trifulau and the tabui, made up of sweet reproaches in the Piedmontese dialect and knowing looks incomprehensible to outside eyes. And at the right time, in the right place, you will experience on your skin the thrill of seeing the dog begin to dig, and then unearth the precious mushroom.
At the end of the tour you will have the opportunity to buy the truffles collected and take them home with you to conclude the experience with one of the most important moments: the tasting.
Are you ready?
Here are some shots of those who have chosen to live with us the experience of the “search”, or that of tasting.
The trifulau, a small pre-departure guide
Being a searcher: the word to Massimiliano Bertello, founder of Langhe Truffle
Often those who sell truffles delegate the search work to others. Many think only of the final goal: to have the truffle. This is not our case: for us it is not only the act of the sale that counts, but also the whole process that precedes it.
The pleasure, in our opinion, lies precisely in the search for the best truffles in the area: only by personally dealing with finding the mystical mushroom we fully realize how great its value is.
As you can imagine, looking for truffles is not at all easy: trifulau is a job made of effort, unexpected events and patience. However, it is really true that thanks to passion every obstacle can be overcome, and every difficulty becomes lighter.
I’m Massimiliano Bertello, the trifulau who will lead you in search of truffles: let me tell you something more about my work.
The passion for this job / hobby has been passed on to me since childhood, both by my father Pierino and grandfather Michele (Michelin). At the time they took me with them whenever possible, we went near the Annunziata of La Morra, Monforte and Roddi, where I still take visitors today!
I have been actively practicing the trifulau craft for 40 years now, but you never stop learning.
For us who grew up in the Langhe, nature is always (or almost always) very important. Surely one of the first reasons why I became passionate about the search was the contact with the green, carrying out a job that protected biodiversity rather than ruining it. In fact, you must know that truffles only grow in specific habitats, which are unreproducible by man. It is therefore the task of the trifulau to safeguard these habitats, to ensure that they do not vanish.
Another element is that of the symbiotic relationship that is created with the dog: it is an activity full of emotions, and we are always two to experience them. Both when we are successful and when we return empty-handed.
I’m also passionate about unpredictability: every search is different, and when I leave, I can’t know what I’ll find. It is a real bet, the result of which is not up to me!
Both my dogs and I need continuous training, so regardless of whether or not there are “customers” I try to get around as much as possible.
I also like to go in search of new places, because despite all these years of experience it still happens to find interesting corners. The Langhe are full of surprises.
When I am alone, I always prefer the nocturnal “search”: both because the dog is less distracted and smells less, and because truffles come more to the surface with humidity.
And then, of course, also to protect my secret places :-)
Many believe that anyone with a slightly trained hunting dog can go for truffles. Well, that’s not quite the case.
In order to carry out the research in a legal way, a national card is required, which is obtained only by passing a specific exam and has a duration of 10 years. At the end of this time, it is necessary to undergo the exam again. The card costs about € 140 per year.
As I told you a little while ago, the trifulau’s task is also to safeguard the terroir, and you don’t know how much damage a budding prospector can do!
There are also some rules to follow all year round: it is forbidden to search with more than two dogs, and it is also illegal to collect truffles from private property.
The research is done at night precisely to safeguard the confidentiality of the most favorable places, so it can be said that there is a sort of fair competition, but with a suspicious tendency.
To make you understand how serious this secrecy is: the parent often passes on the exact locations to the child only on the day he finally puts down the hoe!
A good truffle dog must have a meek and obedient character. The preferred sex is female, because it creates less problems in the heat period.
It takes about 4 years to complete the training cycle (starting from 3 months). The best performances for a tabui are obtained from the 4th to the 9th year, both for a matter of physical development and concentration.
I train them personally: I would not entrust my companions to anyone else. To do this I use the scorzone truffle (or black summer) because it is less fragrant than the other prized ones, so the search will be easier with more aromatic truffles.
Kelly is a 5 and a half year old Springer Spaniel, Kyra is a cross between Breton and pointer and she is 4 and a half years old. Diana is the eldest, she is a pure pointer of 6 years.
Being all three hunting dogs they are naturally inclined to research, and each of them excels in certain respects. Kelly is the most docile and meek, Diana is less cuddly and more hardworking and Kyra is a dog that has yet to define herself both in terms of character and training, but she has great potential.
On the field Kelly is the one who performs best and gives the most satisfaction, trained first and with more time available. Being the most sociable with tourists, she is always the one to accompany me during the organized research activities.
She will therefore be the one you will meet!