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Travel Tip: Pop Culture and Cinema in Italy
Black Truffle Fair

Photo courtesy of Promozione prodotti di Norcia
Photo courtesy of Promozione prodotti di Norcia
Black Truffle Fair
NORCIA  •  Piazza San Benedetto  •  Ongoing
Truffles are the most expensive mushrooms in the world. The exotic treasure is the featured item at this festival and its draws a large crowd including buyers who are willing to pay an arm and leg for the precious commodity. 

Umbria is famous for its black truffles - a speciality of Italian cuisine. Some of the finest come from Norcia, a medieval mountain town that was the birthplace of St Benedict. The Black Truffle (Tartufo) Festival, held on the last weekend in February, is a great time to visit the region and taste the truffles - the festival attracts local and national food producers. Black truffles aren't as highly prized as white truffles by gourmets, but are still delicious and can be lightly cooked or grated and eaten in sauces, in pasta dishes, or in risotto. They grow in the surrounding countryside, beneath oak and walnut trees.

The ancients thought its was the food of the gods, with aphrodisiac properties that according to mythology were well known to the impetuous Jupiter, while Roman recipe writers advised ordinary mortals to cook the Tubers (mushroom classification came much later) under ash and eat them with honey. Later on, in the Middle Ages, a deep-rooted mistrust of this strange natural product developed, and it was believed to be poisonous. The consecration of the truffle as the king of cuisine only took place in the last two centuries, with its constant use in the courts of the nobility.

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