Art and culture

Nights of the trifulau: on a truffle hunt

September 21, 2022

A man, his dog, the night on the hills. This is the life of a trifulau in autumn.

Trifulaus are the most characteristics features of the truffle world.

They are legendary, with their ancient and mysterious habits.

They are professionals and they have all the professional moves: the light steps, the measured moves, the right words.

Trifulaus know when truffles grow, they know what are the trees and grounds that breed them, they know how to push the “tabui” (the truffle dog) to search and how to reward it.

And they know that a good truffle is priceless.

The dynamics of the search

A true trifulau works at night: not everyone has the courage to plunge into the thick patches of vegetation when the sun is down, with the dog as his only companion.

It is tho the best time, because there are fewer distractions, and because darkness protects from curious eyes.

After the Hail Mary, when the witches are out“, is how they used to describe that time of the day. The time to get up and start the search, when fatigue puts you to the test but the passion wins.

The full moon nights are the best, with November frost covering the lawns and sparkling under the light.

Dog and master begin their dance in the silence of the night, interrupted only by the communication between the two: “ven sì” “shh” “toca nèn“, all concise and dialectal phrases.

The search has a precise pace, with controlled proximity: the smells of the forest are many, and the hound must constantly remember his objective.

And once a track is found, digging is a shared work: the strong paws of one need the help of the delicate and cautious hands of the other to dismantle an intact and salable truffle.

Are you interested in finding out more about truffle hunting? Try it in real life, accompanied by a true trifulau.

The mysterious places of the truffle

A bit everywhere in the hills there’s the fairy tale of crumpled calendars, on which the trifulau writes with extreme precision the places, the days and the moons that have returned the truffles in the cold of the autumn nights.

No trifulau will ever admit being successful in a search: “there is little or nothing”, “this year we won’t sell”.

This is because there’s nothing a truffle hunter fears more than the competition and its misdeeds: you can’t trust anyone with the tricks of the trade.

We know that truffles grow in the North, we know which ones are their favourite trees, but nobody knows exactly where the search takes place, the real one.

Documentaries and articles report the explanations of the professionals, but they will never give themselves away with too much information: it is a job, a hobby, according to some a curse, ment only for solitary and reserved souls.