The truffle boasts illustrious admirers in all eras, it cannot go unnoticed by the great Leonardo da Vinci, a great lover of the hypogeal mushroom, a supporter of the humanist Bartolomeo Sacchi, called the Platina who, in his “De Onesta turn AC valetudine”, the first Renaissance Treatise on food dated 1468, tells us about the precious “tuber “. Sacks, in his work, it exalts the diamond of the earth without delay and the technique with which the truffles were sought in Umbria: “Mirabile is the nose of the sow of Norcia, who knows how to recognize the places where they are born, and also leaves them intact, which found them , as soon as the farmer caress her ear.
This writing, entered in the gastronomic literature of all time, gives us the opportunity to reflect on the history of this hidden treasure of Umbria and the importance that this region has had, and still continues to have, in elevating to the rank of World excellence, a food that until the Middle Ages had a fluctuating success, among those who pointed it as a symbol of evil and lust and those who exalted the qualities and undisputed gastronomic value. The fascination of the truffle lies in this mystery: It grows in the darkness of the soil, clinging to the roots of the trees in order to grow and fulfill its cycle. But his greatest secret is revealed only to those who have the ability to find him and has the only way to be discovered his intoxing perfume. This story reminiscent of the oldest myths, is covered with mystery and inevitable legends.
Umbria knows the secret of this creature of Darkness for over thirty centuries and has been able to tame with Egregia mastery, every historical experience that the truffle has spent. The ancient Umbrian ones called the “truffle” what they considered a fragrant stone and thanks to them, the future king of the table, had the way to become known to the world. The Romans adored him but, unbelievable, they bought it from Libya, without noticing that, not far from them, there were deposits of truffle with inestimable value. Pliny wrote on the truffle “grows isolated and surrounded by land alone, the dry, sandy and fruitful land of the Locatizia Africa”. It would not be long before the Italian truffle made its triumphal entrance on the tables of the wealmost families of the Eternal City. Among the first to exalt the truffle and its qualities, the great Juvenal, lover of the truffle to the point of stating that it was preferable that it lacked the grain rather than the truffles.
The oldest method for the truffle quarry was, for centuries, the use of pigs capable of finding truffles even three meters below ground thanks to the similarity of the hypogeal mushroom with the smell of the boar hormones, the male of the pig. This, combined with the exceptional nose of the animal, allowed to handle large quantities of truffles. The only hitch was to prevent the animal from eating the precious treasure, a problem that easily solved thanks to the use of an iron ring applied to the front end of the Grifo. Later, the pig was replaced with the dog mainly because, the least weight of this, allowed more agile displacements in the Umbrian woods. Umbria, the bearer of an incredible historical patrimony, able to bring the truffle on the tables of the admirers of the whole world from the earliest times. A story that continues today, with increasing emphasis and enthusiasm. The protagonist’s role has, in all this, the family of the truffle.
Urbani and the history of the truffle share from six generations the same ink, the same pages, of a wonderful book that tells how he made a diamond of the Earth to be king of the tables of the whole world. It is the urban family, heir to a heritage of inestimable value, still giving voice today with increasing force to history and building the foundations of the future. In the small, beautiful Truffle Museum of Scheggino, you can follow the traces of this fascinating entrepreneurial history through instruments that tell a lost world: old autoclaves for the pressure cooking of truffles, hand scratchers and also “foot”, which until 1950 were used to close the tin and fire tin boxes, the first strange labellers and even an ancient “lavatartufi” in iron with which the workers carefully cleaned the newly harvested truffles.
Olga Urbani tells us how, by chance, she discovered the writings of the grandfather in which a part of fundamental history is told: it is Italian, branded in urban fire, the discovery of a new way of preserving the truffle. It was the urban family who invented the “ad hoc” preservation of the truffle, outclassing the French methods that until then had been “masters”. A family that has always, with passion and great respect for the territory, has made international the Umbrian excellence, has been able to exploit from generation to generation the past bringing always new, winning new challenges, as the entry into the market American, to be able to say with pride to represent not only Umbria, not only Italy but the whole world of truffles. As the Cav. of Work Paolo Urbani said: Urbani in the world means truffle. Today as yesterday, tomorrow as today.