Tis Returns to Italy! Day 51: On the Truffle Trail in Monte Sporno
When I was trying to arrange a day to visit Parma and meet my friend Stefania, who I’d only met virtually, Friday was the only day that would work. She said I could come along with her to meet the local truffle hunter and check the trails for a tour they were giving the next day. So I rented a car and headed to Parma Friday morning.
We met at her house in Parma, so I could follow her as she was bringing a group of students along for the trip. She hosts a student from Boston College every year and she came along and brought her friends.
On the Trail of Truffles
We all drove out to her family’s country house, about a 25-minute drive from the city center where we met the truffle hunter, Luciano, and his truffle-hunting dog, Brenda. At our first spot on Monte Sporno, Luciano put Brenda to work saying, “Cerca bene!”, which means, “Search well! Search Brenda did! It was like someone told her she could have ten big steaks for dinner if she found a truffle.
Despite Brenda’s efforts, she did not find the truffle that would open Luciano’s magic bag of dog snacks at our first stop. However, Brenda’s efforts to find a truffle were equally matched by Brenda’s efforts to get into Luciano’s treat bag. However, Luciano held a hard line of “No truffle? No treats!”.
We abandoned efforts in the first spot and headed to try a different location. To say our second spot provided great hunting grounds, is definitely an understatement. Brenda was working hard, and uncovered 8 truffles which unlocked an equal number of snacks from Luciano’s magic treat bag!! We finally had to take her away as she was relentless in her hunting efforts. The point of today was really just to find the best areas for the next day, not deplete it of truffles.
A Truffle Hunter’s Best Friend
The Monte Sporno area is simply beautiful. Just a trip there is worth it to see the mountains. However, my favorite part of the day was seeing the relationship between Luciano and Brenda. Luciano is a kind soul, and the way he interacted with Brenda was so lovely to watch. When Brenda was successful in finding a truffle, they celebrated together, Luciano always hugging Brenda and giving her lots of attention, not to mention the much sought-after treat.
At one point during the day, Luciano was moving the truck and Brenda was with Stefania and me. We could not get her to continue walking with us, not even a tiny bit. She stubbornly stopped in the middle of the path, looking in the direction she had last seen Luciano.
Yes, I’ve seen the bond between a dog and its owner before, but this was really something special. I am beyond grateful to Stefania and Luciano, and of course Brenda, for letting me tag along on such a wonderful day!
Ciao for now!