“I did not know yet that delicious fruit of the undergrowth that grew in Italy, and seemed typical of the Benedictine lands, you want to Norcia (black) want in other lands (more white and fragrant). Severino explained to me what it was, and how tasty it was, prepared in the most varied ways. And he told me it was very difficult to find, because he was hiding under the ground, more secretive than a mushroom.
These are the words of Adso, the novice protagonist of the famous book by Umberto Eco set in 1327, “The Name of the Rose”, when he is taught about the virtues of the delicious fruit of the earth. In his best-selling Eco, playing with words, he says to Adso: “I remember in fact that later in the years a lord of my countries knowing that I knew Italy, he asked me why I had seen over there of the Lords go to pasture pigs, and I laughed realizing that instead They went in search of truffles. But as I said to him that these gentlemen sought to find the ‘tar-tuff’ under the earth and then eat it, that he understood that I said that they sought ‘Der Teufel’, or the devil, and he was devoutly looking at me astounded. Then the misunderstanding broke up and we both laughed. Eco faces with Mastery a theme known to the connoisseurs of the truffle or the mysterious character and often connected to diabolical legends that surrounded the diamond of the Earth throughout the Middle Ages.
In the middle age, the whole known world was divided ranks and it was the obligation for everyone to respect his; the hierarchies of nature and the social ones followed the same laws whereby an element like the truffle, which was born in the depths of the Earth, was inferior to the fruit that was born at the top and that for this they were destined to the high ranks, to the nobility. For this reason the Black Diamond was relegated for many years to food of the poor and less affluent, but the habits changed quickly and in a short time the truffle showed the unquestionable qualities that he carried with him, as recalled Francesco Francolini, eminent Agrarian scholar, who at the beginning of the twentieth century gave birth to the first Chair of agriculture in Spoleto. He wrote with a certain pride: “Very old fame enjoy our truffles. Already since the last years of the fifteenth century”.
The prestige of the mysterious mushroom Hypogeum began to increase and together with him, the prestige of Umbria, a region that began to treasure so much fortune and to find an identity that included among its greatest values, that jewel of the Earth more and more Envied. The profession of the “tratufano”, the gold prospector of Umbria, was born a few centuries later. The first track is in an accounting document of the financial order of Spoleto, the Tabula exitus, expanse et introitus of August 22, 1400, in which were annotated the goods that entered and came out of the city. Even then it was clear the value of truffles for the land of origin, a heritage that was to be defended, and that is why to sell them out of the territory you had to pay duty: “A money per pound”. Thus the truffle also assumed a social role: it became a tangible sign of the identity of the territory itself. The inhabitants of the mountain countries began to protect in various ways the precious product of their land. First by banning the collection from outside. The statute of Cerreto di Spoleto prohibited in fact the “foreigners” the collection of truffles. In Scheggino the truffles belonged by law to the owners of the land where they were growing. But the fortunate inhabitants of the country, who had a sense of business, soon began to rent the truffle with undeniable benefits. And it is precisely in Scheggino that the truffle will find, a few centuries later, in mid ‘ 800, the springboard to enter in fact in the history of the world gastronomy.
Everything was born from a truffle seeker, Costantino Urbani. At the time the hegemony of the truffle was French, thanks to a complex system of duties that protected the sale. In 1858, Costantino Urbani invented the “ad hoc” method of the truffle, completely innovative and clearly superior to that used by the French: to preserve the diamonds of the Earth, it applied to the crystal jars a special closure of its Invention that did not used putty as the French did and gave amazing results. Thus began a profitable export of Umbrian gold to Carprentas, in France, giving way to a current of business that has gone increasingly enlargling generation after generation. Exports quickly spread to France, Germany, Switzerland and, at the same pace, also in other regions of Italy. After him was the turn of Paolo Urbani Senior and later Carlo Urbani who, with the irreplaceable help of his wife Olga, not only became a pioneer of tartuficulture in Italy but also a great entrepreneur who managed to reorganize the company around the His dear seekers: the cavatori. So was born the Urbani Tartufi that the whole world knows today.
Paolo and Bruno Urbani, sons of Carlo and Olga Senior, represent the fourth generation to which we owe the transformation of a beautiful and large company, but still familiar, in a real mechanized and technologically advanced industry. Paolo Urbani, who really managed to give a new face to the family jewel, was also awarded the title of Knight of work with the motivation of having succeeded in creating, around the truffle, a real economic reality, the flagship of Italy in the world. Currently the company is the world leader in the truffle sector, holding about 70% of the world market. Now in the sixth generation, it is currently led by Bruno and Olga Urbani, by Giammarco and Carlo Urbani, sons of Bruno, and Luca and Francesco Loreti Urbani, the youngest of the company, children of Olga.
The passion for the truffle of breathes in the company together with the scent of fresh truffles that come daily in the plants of Scheggino. A path marked by a profound respect for traditions and the innate predisposition to innovation, a family that has always, with passion and great respect for the territory, succeeds in bringing the value of every age to the historical heritage that constitutes its fondamenta, a successful recipe that has made international the Umbrian excellence, has been able to win new challenges, as the entry into the American market, until it can proudly say to represent not only Umbria, not only Italy but the whole world of truffles. Urban 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 Urbani, heir to a heritage of inestimable value, still giving voice today with increasing force to history and building the foundations of the future.