If you eat truffles in high-end American restaurants, you’ll easily pay hundreds of dollars for a few shavings.

In Italy, especially during the truffle hunting season and the Alba International White Truffle fair, it seems like there’s so many in circulation, it’s hard to understand why prices are so high!

Truffles Cannot be Grown, Only Found


Finding a fist-sized white truffle—white truffles are rarer than black summer truffles—is no easy feat. They’re so hard to come by that truffle hunters go out at night to keep anyone form following them to their best truffle foraging grove.

Dogs—not pigs, who might eat the truffles they find—paw at the ground when they find the scent—and truffle hunters unearth their prize with a special, spade-like digging tool.

And while truffle hunts for tourists can make the whole thing look simple, digging up handfuls of black truffles in just a couple hours, it can take trained truffle hunters and their dogs weeks to come upon the massive truffles you see at the market, often pulling 12-or-more-hour days all the while.

The International Truffle Fair


In the end, the hunt is worth it though. At the international fair, white truffles can fetch 3,000 euros a kilo!

When I saw hunters selling their wares out of the trunk of their car on the side of the road, though, the truffles were going for 250 euro a kilo.

For consumer, it is a huge savings to get them from the source, before they go through layers of middlemen at the markets and restaurants to finally reach your plate.

Cooking with Real Truffles at Home


For cooking yourself, it’s best to get the grated truffles stored in oil, but if you get your hands on the real thing, there are two perfect ways to enjoy it.

In our newsletter, we showcased a recipe for Tajarin with Truffles, the traditional handmade Piemontese pasta that is the best loved accompaniment for these treasured tubers.

But my favorite way to enjoy them—which also happens to be the most simple—is grated over fried eggs.
in Cultural 1891 0
Taxes, tipping, and service charges in Italy are an ever fluid subject that never fails to befuddle visitors. No matter how many times you’ve been, these things are highly subject to change, and just recently, the city of Rome dramatically upped their hotel taxes, so I wanted to talk to you about how these work.

Hotel taxes apply even if you are not stay in something that would be strictly referred to as a hotel. They come up at:

  • hotels

  • B&Bs

  • rental homes and apartments

  • camp sites

  • guest houses


The only exception is hostels, and the prices of the tax depends on the level of the establishment. 1- and 2-Star hotels stars carry a 3 EU per night tax, 3-star hotels a 4 EU per night tax, 4-star hotels a 6 EU per night tax, and 5-star hotels a 7 EU per night tax.

Agriturisms are taxed 4 EU per night, camp sites 2 EU per night, and all other types of accommodation 3.5 EU per night. And all prices are per person.

As hotels do not want to constantly raise their prices to reflect these taxes, you must pay the taxes separately from your room rate, typically on arrival. The hotel taxes go toward services for tourists, as well as tourism marketing, in addition to city developments that affect tourists, such as street improvement.

DSCN2647It might have been Under the Tuscan Sun that really jump started the craze, but there is something about spending a day on an olive grove helping out with the harvest that has always appealed to visitors to Italy, especially outdoorsy types exploring the small hilltop towns of Tuscany.

If you are in search of your own harvest experience, you’re in luck.

You’ll be one of the most welcome kinds of visitors to Italy!

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No matter the season, staying on an Italian winery is always an eye-opening experience. From the simple beauty of repetition as row after row of wine grapes undulates over the hillside to the earnest passion of Italian winegrowers, Italian wineries are usually stunning, serene places.

But during the fall, wineries explode with action. Grapes are picked as fast as possible to capture the peak of flavor and just as furiously pressed into juice.

While wine preferences are a deeply personal matter, there are a handful of winery inns and hotels that I love share with my clients because they cannot fail to impress.

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