We are today in front of the youngest of the company urban truffles, Francesco Loreti Urbani, creator with his brother Luca of the new project Truffleland that, according to all experts in the field, will revolutionate the truffle farming and agriculture of the future. There are many questions that we want to ask the young urban, many of a technical nature to learn more about his great project, others of a more personal nature. Let’s start with one of the latter, an easy question to break the ice.
Good morning Francesco, when he realized that his life would be at the “scent of truffles”?
Francesco smiles: “The first memory goes back to when, boy, the school sailors go to sell truffles”.
A passion therefore that, as it is written in the memories of the Truffle Museum, flows in the veins of Urbani. In this regard, how do you feel to be the youngest manager of a company named so important? Do you feel the weight of responsibility?
Honestly the only feeling I feel is a great happiness. I feel proud and proud to be part of this family. I thank my mother who gave me and my brother the opportunity to work in urban and to have taught us, from a young age, the values that have always distinguished our family. The passion for the world of truffles was born accordingly and today I could no longer do without it.
Let’s talk about the Truffleland project now. How is this adventure born, what gave you the courage to start it?
“Everything was born from the passion I’ve always had for truffle farming. Being in contact with the Earth, with the expert truffle growers such as Riccardo Cesari, Truffleland’s technician, led me to reflect on the fact that our high quality standards need continuity. We need perfect plants, I say in no uncertain terms, to use not only for our projects but to be able to make available to all Italy and Europe. At a time when we talk about the sector of agriculture in crisis with fields that make the owner 200/300 euros a year, we want to guarantee, through a new model of agriculture, a yield for the same field no more than 300 sqm of 3000 euro per year and Imagine if you have so many fields! This will allow a recovery of the agricultural sector guaranteeing a proceeds that will affect positively not only on the single but in general, on the national economy”.
Enter the room of the interview the aforementioned Riccardo Cesari, expert tartuficoltore of the company that, at the request of Francesco, reiterates “Truffleland was born because we needed certainty in the truffle-growing and to get this we had to Control the whole process that leads to the growth of fine truffles, a sophisticated control from the acorn, to the plant, to the truffle. Initially, in January 2014, we started with Francesco a new project of agricultural requalification of tartuficulture cultivating 30 hectares of land in an experimental way. From here it was born, in parallel, a nursery project, Truffleland precisely, to have the absolute certainty of a raw material certain not only for us but for all our customers”.
“I think it is up to us Urbani”, Francesco continues, “to those who have made the market of the great truffle in the world, to ensure that this primacy is maintained in the future too. A big thought, as well as in large have always thought of the urban of all time, translating in reality those that were initially only aspirations. Now it is up to me to anticipate the future, as did my grandparents and the love I have for my land and the Italian truffle, I will be right. The results are already visible”.
Let’s go into more detail, what is the Truffleland project?
“Truffleland is a company specializing in the production of plants from truffles, plants that anyone who has a soil suitable for truffle farming, can cultivate to obtain valuable truffles that Urbani will buy. An investment from tangible results, a way of requalifying agriculture and guaranteeing a future for many young people. A large nursery in Scheggino, in Umbria, produces plants that are micorized for the cultivation of truffles with a revolutionary methodology. They are plants of oaks, kernels, hornbeams, pines, all cared for one by one, from the hands of our experts. Anyone with an arable land suitable for truffle farming, can request the seedlings that, once planted outside for five years absorbing all the nourishment of Mother Earth, will grow and give the miracle of nature that is the truffle. Once harvested, truffles will be withdrawn annually by Urbani Tartufi and immediately paid at the current market price”.
Let’s talk about results and predictions. We know that the nursery of Scheggino started production at full speed, can you give us some number?
“Certainly! For the first annual production we have in the nursery 180,000 plants so distributed: 80,000 Roverelle, 40 thousand Holm oaks, 30,000 kernels with double aptitude and other 30,000 among Hornbeams, Pines and Linden trees. Among the novelties for next year there is the birth of a start-up that will take care of studies on the possibility of obtaining the Tuber Magnatum Pico, the white truffle, from a laboratory plan, what is currently impossible “.
A question that is often addressed when we talk about Truffleland. Once the soil of the applicant is considered suitable for tartuficulture by your experts, expected the years necessary for the plants to be born the first truffles, who will take care of the harvest? We know that Urbani will buy truffles at the current market price but not all of them are able to “hunt” truffles and collect them. Have you thought about this?
“We have not overlooked anything in this project”, smiles Francesco as he searches through his sheets for evidence of what is about to tell us, “as you can see, Truffleland will not only sell seedlings but also trained truffle dogs and we talk about dogs with particular disposition, character and very high selection. In the end, it is our interest that everything goes to the best. Enter the room Luca Loreti Urbani, elder brother of Francesco, we stop him for a moment for two questions.
Good Morning Luca, she deals with the Asian market and is often abroad to represent her company. From his point of view with the world panorama, how do you see the urban of the future?
“Definitely bigger than now”, responds without hesitation even a moment, “I see our truffles to conquer the world even if, to be honest, we are already present all over the globe except for some areas of war where it is difficult to access. The international market is booming, especially in China we are going very strong. A few days ago there was the Chinese New Year and the one just started, for their calendar, is the year of the dog, animal that has always brought luck to our company, without our precious truffle dogs, we could not be who we are. I am sure it will be an even more fruitful year”.
Your mother and your uncles are the head of the world’s leading truffle business, from future executives of the company, how do you relate to the “big”, listen to the advice or carry forward only your ideas?
Francis and Luke look at each other and smile. “At the beginning we always had to listen, we had no alternative”, says Luca smilingly, “Those who grow in the Urbani family must follow what I would call a ‘school of truffles’ and learn about many scientific, economic, strategic knowledge of our history, what has been done by those who came before us, until then it is difficult to take initiatives. Now, after ten years of working within the company, I can finally say mine but the respect for those who came before me is fundamental”.
“The project Truffleland is an example”, continues Francesco, “tradition and innovation merge and together contribute to grow the company. The freshness and sometimes even the “lightness” of the young people of the company are important but are ultimately the ‘big’ that, with what I would call ‘remote control’, put at our disposal a fundamental ingredient, experience. In the end we are a family business and our secret is just the family. Now we also have the small Ginevra, our 6 year old cousin who already cares about truffle and tries, in his way, to participate. It is a wonder to see her grow up and think that tomorrow we will work together”.
Who inspires your work? Do you have a landmark within the family?
“To be honest”, explains Francesco, “Those who most inspire my work are the quarrymen of truffle, people of great humility and experience to which I owe a lot. With regard to the family, a prominent figure was undoubtedly my grandfather Paul, who died a few years ago. Now I find a great guide and an example to follow in my uncle Giammarco who dedicates his life to the company and is always available to teach me and follow me in every new adventure.
“In all this”, continues Luca, “we certainly do not forget our mother to whom we owe so much, the most important woman and teacher of our life, and with her ‘the Boss’ of the company, the great uncle Bruno, the person who more than any other knows the world of the truffle knowing how to move among the various problems that may arise”. “Surely the figure to which we try to resemble”, ends Francesco.