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Get ready for incredible immersive foodie experiences

"It’s time for a gourmet treat and hence get well-versed with some properties around the world who offer incredible immersive foodie experiences.

From a hands-on truffle hunting through the hotel’s backyard enchanting forests hosted by truffle experts Giulio Benuzzi and his dog Eda, here’s an elaborate list to give you that wonderful experience:

Truffle Hunting in Florence, Italy: Foodies and culture-lovers alike will delight in this hands-on truffle hunting and cooking experience from Fiesole, Italy’s 5-star Il Salviatino. Guests can join a certified truffle hunter and his dog to review the basics of this coveted ingredient before embarking on an experience that explores the secret world of the Tuscan truffle, including a hands-on truffle hunt, introduction to cleaning and cooking techniques, and a truffle-filled lunch feast. The truffle hunting experience itself is led by celebrated Tuscan truffle hunter, Giulio Benuzzi and his dog Eda. Guests will be taken to Giulio’s personal home, where he will introduce them to the basics of the process and lead them through the local forest surrounding his cottage. After the hunt, which lasts about two hours, Giulio walks groups through the techniques for cleaning, maintenance and cooking before serving a truffle tasting lunch including focaccia with truffle sauce bean soup and even truffle ice cream. The experience can be arranged individually or as part of a package...

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Tuscany's Truffle Trail

"...Local prejudice aside, even untutored taste buds like mine can tell they have a point. A fairly fundamental flaw in the plan; and then there’s the trouble of finding the things. My truffle-hunter companion Giulio Benuzzi has spent three years training Edda, a lagotto specially bred for the task. (Lagotti were brought to Florence by lumberjacks from Modena in the 17th century and look a bit like large, fluffy, brown and white poodles.)

Hunters and dogs form an inseparable team; the world record truffle was found by Luciano Savini and his dog Rocco. Each hunter has his own territory and will know every rock and root in it; secret truffle-rich locations are written down in the hunter’s notebook, kept under lock and key and handed from one generation to the next. There are around 1,400 licensed truffle hunters in Tuscany, and competition is fierce – around Alba, where the most valuable white truffles are found, there are stories of the best dogs being stolen or poisoned and hunters spying on their competitors’ high-yielding grounds...."

luxury travel advisor


Truffle Hunting in Italy

"On the Hunt for Truffles

We begin our day with Giulio, the truffle hunter, in his home about a 30 minute drive away from Florence.

 Giulio is a third-generation truffle hunter.  Born in the Piedmont region, the "best place for food in the world," he says, Giulio never planned to do anything other than truffle hunting.  He spent several years studying to be a truffle hunter and then passed an exam to do so; all Italian truffle hunters must be certified to enter the forest and search. 

Giulio has the Italian passion for life and food, punctuating his words by waving his hands and leaning on his heels as he speaks to us of the economics of truffles.  "We're always looking to find different ways to make money," he says, explaining why he offers truffle hunting tours.  There are two other truffle hunters who offer tours in the Tuscany region while the rest of the truffle hunters --- approximately 2,000 or so in Italy --- focus on gathering truffles and selling them at markets and directly to dealers.  Giulio spends one day each week on a tour and the other six with his dog Edda, roaming the forest in search of the delicacy.

Edda is simply a beautiful dog, born and bred for this particular pursuit.

  Giulio whistles for her every morning and they head to the 500 hectacre forest near his home.  He lets Edda off her lead and she sticks her nose to the ground.  Every ten minutes or so, she hauls off, running as fast as any other dog would run to chase a rabbit or squirrel.  But, she's chasing a scent.  She's chasing the scent of a truffle she's found from up to 10 yards away.

At first, we didn't believe it: Edda suddenly sniffs, hales off, and Giulio runs quickly behind her to find the spot where she's pointing.  The spot looks like any other spot in the forest to us, but if Giulio doesn't catch up to Edda in time, she will dig into the dirt and eat the truffle herself.  He arrives and gives her a portion of her breakfast and, while she munches happily, he digs a shallow hole with a special trufflehunter's trowel.  Within a few seconds, he has revealed what looks to us like a clod of dark dirt.  He praises Edda and, if it is a particularly small truffle, will give it to her to eat.

"I have to encourage her," he explains, "so she will want to find more truffles."  Edda trained for six months in a special truffle hunting school and then for a year on the field.  She will be able to hunt until she is around seven years old or so, because after that time, it may become difficult for her to move around and she will be retired from the field.  Every day, Giulio feeds her about five grams of truffle while she is hunting and in her dinner.  That's the best fed dog in the world, I think!

Truffle Tasting

After a brisk walk through the forest with Edda and Giulio, we returned to Giulio's home where his partner Christina had prepared a truffle feast for us to enjoy.  Giulio shaved plentiful amounts of truffles on top of a:

  • cheese course with pastry stuffed with cheese,
  • a white bean soup,
  • gnocchi that was the best gnocchi I've ever had,
  • a cheese popover,
  • omelette,
  • and apple pastry.

The food was sensational and the truffles topping every dish left us delighted in the many ways that the fungi can elevate food.  And, one great part of the truffle hunting experience is that it can be both vegetarian and gluten-friendly since truffles are best served with simple dishes like plain eggs or pasta.

About Travel


The Truffle Hunter: Giulio Benuzzi in Tuscany, Italy

"Giulio Benuzzi, who owns the Truffle House in Tuscany, Italy, has dedicated his life to truffles, which are relatives of the mushroom that sell for approximately $600 per pound.

Giulio and his hunting dog head out for a truffle hunt.
Photo by Giulio Benuzzi.

He signs all his emails “Giulio, the Truffle Hunter,” and with good reason: everything Giulio Benuzzi touches is infused with his passion for truffles—the fungi, not the chocolates. His deep-rooted connection with these rare subterranean fungi has influenced his Italian lifestyle, his career, his paintings, and his art. And when he talks about truffles, you can’t help but imagine the surge of excitement that will come from trekking through the forest and getting your hands dirty as you unearth these culinary diamonds.

Truffles are found everywhere, from Oregon to Africa to Giulio’s home in Italy. They grow just a few inches beneath the earth’s surface, living off the nutrients provided by nearby tree roots. They vary in size, between that of a pea and that of an orange, and look a lot like the chocolates we usually think of when we hear the word truffle. In the culinary world, truffles are a treasure because of their tantalizing smells, which range from nutty to garlic-infused, and their characteristically indescribable flavors—even truffle experts like Giulio admit that they can’t accurately explain them.

Truffles resemble the chocolates we often think of when we hear the word truffle.
Photo by Bonjwing Lee.

Before becoming a truffle hunter, Giulio owned a bed and breakfast in Tuscany that catered to middle-class tourists. But in 2000, the poor state of the economy threw him into a financial slump, and he decided it was time for something new. The opportunity to shift paths arose when Giulio joined a truffle hunt and was drawn to this art—not because of the thrilling search for $600-per-pound treasures but because of “the beautiful feeling that was created between the truffle hunter and his dog.” This connection inspired Giulio to find his own hunting dog and become a full-time truffle hunter—making his living by selling valuable truffles and leading tour groups on unique “truffle experiences.”

Giulio congratulates Eda on a job well done.
Photo by Giulio Benuzzi.

Giulio and his dog, Eda, hunt for truffles in a forest near their home six days a week. Giulio gives all his success in finding these truffles to Eda. “Every day, she finds a new truffle for me because she’s really a champion,” he boasts. But apart from working side by side with man’s best friend, Giulio is convinced that his job is like any other. “It’s like working every day for anyone else, but I don’t have to take the car”—he just walks right outside his home and into the forest with Eda.

Giulio’s truffle tours bring visitors from all four corners of the globe to the Truffle House in Tuscany, where Giulio’s passion rubs off on anyone who hears him talk about these fungi in his thick Italian accent. At the Truffle House, visitors learn how truffles grow, go on a truffle hunt, and then indulge in a truffle tasting. When they come, Giulio says he tries “to give them ten stars,” creating an experience “that guests will keep in their memory all their life.”

Giulio’s customers are probably most surprised by the physical demands of the truffle hunt. It starts out as a casual walk, as Giulio and Eda lead their guests through the Tuscan forest. But when Eda catches a truffle’s scent, she dashes through the trees without warning, sending Giulio running after her. He must be with Eda the moment she arrives at the truffle’s location so she won’t eat it before the guests get there. With heavy breath, guests watch as Giulio unearths the truffle. This is the payoff, Giulio says, the moment where guests “become excited like little kids.”

Not only does Giulio sell truffles and offer truffle tours, but he also paints and writes about them. He explains that his creative energy comes from his moments in the forest. These are the moments that inspire him to create colorful abstract paintings and write poems and fantasies all about truffle hunting. For Giulio, truffle hunting is a near-spiritual experience that fills his soul with inspiration."

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