San Giovanni d’Asso is a town 30 minutes north east of Montalcino in the area known as the Crete Senesi.
The hamlet is overlooked by large Castle, now home to a large white truffle museum, and there is a festival celebrating the white truffle every year. Not to be missed. The season for the white truffle peaks in November.
The natural conditions of this area and lack of pollution produce truffles of the highest quality. But though there are many in the surrounding countryside, they are not easy to find and are often buried a foot under ground. A kilo of this “hidden gold” can fetch up to 3000 Euros in the international marketplace and dogs are trained for months on end to find, but not destroy, these hidden treasures. As a friendly local told us when “Sometimes we get totally exhausted looking for them. But we never get tired of eating them”. It seems almost everyone in San Giovanni is a truffle hunter and skills are passed on with each generation. It such a part of life here that it even boasts Italy’s first truffle museum, housed in the 13th century castle, no less. Where to stay if you want to witness or even partake in this activity? Firstly, the truffle hunting season lasts eleven months, from June to April. The black truffle appears on menus in early June. The valued white truffle – also known as the “white diamond of Italy” – grows from September to December.
The best restaurant in town. Some amazing truffle dishes.
The Locanda’s restaurant does more than justice to San Giovanni d’Asso’s culinary reputation. Not only is it located in the noblest area of the building – the medieval Olive Press Room where many original features are still in a perfect state of preservation – but a meal combining those truffles with pecorino cheese, prosciutto, Montalcino honey and saffron is just mouth watering. As we said at the beginning, there may be few undiscovered secrets in Tuscany left, but this, in our opinion, is one of them.
The truffle museum