Italy hiking trip 100

I sat next to a truffle hunter in the Barolo Region of Alba.

As the Michelin-starred food arrived and the wine flowed, he told me a lot about the local truffle hunters.

Although he wouldn’t admit to being one of them, he kept slipping up and saying ‘us’ instead of ‘them,’ and then he would correct himself – but not very emphatically, and he had a smile on his face, as though to let me know that he’d made a mistake on purpose!



Alba’s truffles are the white varieties. They sell for 3-4 euros a gram locally, and for 10 euros per gram elsewhere.

No tourist will ever buy from a local truffle hunter. They’ll find it almost impossible to find one. And the truffle hunters mainly sell their buried treasure to restaurants.

Traditional truffle dogs are white. Then my new chum told me that most of them are trained in the University of Truffle Dogs.dog5

He waited for my reply with a twinkle in his eye.

‘Oh yeah, right,’ I said, ‘And I expect they wear little black cloaks and mortar boards and everyone applauds them when they go up to collect their diplomas!’

Of course he’d pre-empted my reaction and handed his phone to me.

Sure enough, there it was! The University of Truffle Hunting Dogs was founded in 1880 in a house in the hilltop village of Roddi.

Giovanni Monchiero, aged 42 runs it now. It was founded by his great-grandfather.

Well, you learn something new every day!dog

There are no truffles growing on private land. They grow in public woodland.

The truffle hunters go out at night. They know where they’re going, even in pitch darkness.

Some plants encourage truffles to grow. Wet and humid conditions are perfect.

A rising moon means a rising truffle.

The knowledge dates back to Roman times and is passed down from father to son.

I asked what happened when someone new tried to muscle in on the local hunting. Was there any violence?

There was no way that I could imagine a fiery Italian who could earn enough money in a few weeks to keep his family for the rest of the year politely saying, ‘Hello, I haven’t seen you before. Don’t look here. It’s better over there.’dog2

Again, it was what my friend didn’t say that explained a lot. He told me that the truffle hunters all carry a long baton which is used to push the dogs’ noses away when they find a truffle.

Hmm, yeah, and the rest, I replied. He just smiled.

Actually, the truffle hunters are willing to talk about what they do. They’re just cagey about where they do it!

One of them took a BBC journalist hunting with him at night. Then she asked to see his 50-year-old notebook, listing his truffle sites, and he said that his even wife would never ask to see it – and he angrily rushed away, leaving the journalist alone in the dark wood.

Nobody knows how she found her way out of it.dog3

At the Asti wholesale market, which runs from 5-6am, truffles are discreetly sold. A journalist from the Washington Post went there and he looked around, totally confused. There wasn’t a truffle to be seen anywhere. It was just full of people in groups chatting.

Then one of them looked up and announced, ‘It’s OK, he’s a colleague of mine,’ and truffles appeared out of bags, boxes and pockets!

Personally, I can’t see what all the fuss is about. I’m not a truffle aficionado, although I’ve tried different varieties several times. I’d rather have a big, meaty cep.


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About Lyn

LYN FUNNELL CV (well, sort of!) Lyn had very successful careers as an Air Hostess, Sales Rep, (she was one of only a couple of women. She beat all the men regularly, becoming the Top Rep in the UK, and 2nd in the world.) And then Catering took over. She did everything from the washing-up, to Silver Service Waitress, and Chef. A few times, she had to cook the meal, dash round the other side and Silver Serve it! In between all this, she wrote as often as she could, building up a reputation as a published short story writer, (Horror and a twist in the tale,) and a Poet. She has appeared as a Performing Poet, and a Demo Chef. Then she discovered the world of the Food & Travel Writer. And that’s what she has continued doing to this day. Her main hobbies are Cookery and entering Competitions. She has won many prizes, including holidays and a moped. She enjoys entering Competitions, submitting her original recipes. She was first in many Competitions, including the Good Housekeeping Millenium Menu, Fruits of France, Bernard Matthews Turkey Recipe, and appeared on BBC’s The One Show Spag Bol contest. She was one of three Finalists, coming 2nd, which makes her Britain’s Spag Bol Queen! Now she runs B-C-ing-U! and loves it! After several years of being messed around by Editors, and having loads of contacts, Lyn formed her own online Magazine, vowing to treat her writers fairly, and to do everything possible to further their careers, publicise their books, etc. She now has a band of excellent regular writers, and the Magazine’s going from strength to strength! Lyn’s online published books; Adverse Camber A collection of my published poems. The First Book of Short Stories The Second Book of Short Stories The Third Book of Short Stories. Many of these stories have been previously published. St Anthony of Padua. The Patron St of the Old. A story of one woman’s terrible ordeal in a Home, and her family’s rescue of her. The Girl Who Watched. A Cuban girl is attacked by an English journalist & what follows! Willy the Whizz & the Wormhole. Suitable for Young Adults, aged 15-95! Get Out Of Debt And Stay Out – Forever! Unsympathetic, hard-hitting, realistic solutions to your problems. All these books are published by Andrews UK Ltd No, I didn’t pay them to Vanity Publish! They’re all available from Amazon, and many other online publishers. LYN FUNNELL.