Itinerary: San Miniato, Forcoli (Palaia) – Ghizzano (Peccioli) – Volterra
That stretch of Pisan territory, that from San Miniato touches Palaia and Peccioli to then goes south to the crags of Volterra, can be renamed “the truffles road“. Because in these lands of ancient tufaceous origin the highly prized white truffle, but also other truffles (the bianchetto, scorzone and even black), find their ideal habitat.
The itinerary can only start from San Miniato, a place of excellence for white truffles and once a must for pilgrims along the Via Francigena. It is no coincidence that one of the first Truffle Associations in Italy, Tartufai of San Miniato, was born here, in order to promote the protection of the environment, the collection, production and enhancement of truffles. Here the National White Truffle Market Exhibition has been held for half a century with various kinds of initiatives dedicated to his majesty, the white truffle, for three weekends in November in the historic center. Where the other excellences of the territory meet, such as the wine and other products of the Vignaioli Association, or important realities such as Savitar, which for over 50 years has dedicated itself to this activity, transforming the white and the black truffle into products such as cream cheese, salami and pecorino cheese, vinegar and oil, all with truffles. The company also organizes truffle hunting with lunch and buffet.
San Miniato is not only synonymous of truffles and good food, but it boasts a high-value historic center, with an artistic heritage open all year round and a rich calendar of events for all tastes. Not only San Miniato lives on truffles: even the towns on the nearby hills such as Corazzano, Cigoli and Balconevisi organize parties, festivals, tastings in his honor all year round, although more concentrated in October and early November. For these countries, enhancing truffles means highlighting other typical products.
The climate, the soil and the vegetation means that even in the nearby area of Palaia, which is also recognized as a city of truffles, it is possible to find the particular White Truffle, that reaches its maturation period from September to December. Thanks to a study by the University of Pisa, the first Identity Card of the Tuber Magnatum Pico (Latin name of the white truffle) and of the Bianchetto or Marzuolo Truffle (the one found between January and April) was born here.
We stop at Savini Tartufi, between Forcoli and Palaia, which has been dealing with truffles for four generations. The company offers various services and above all “experiences” related to truffles including guided tastings, lunches or dinners and hunting with the dog in the woods. On the premises there is a shop selling farm products and a small family museum.
Nearby we recommend a visit to the village of Palaia, with the beautiful Romanesque parish church of San Martino and the small but pretty medieval historic center. Along the scenic road, between olive groves and vineyards, it is worth stopping at the village of Villa Saletta (which in summer hosts the popular theater festival dedicated to the Tuscan actor Mauro Monni, film partner with Roberto Benigni), or move to the town of Montefoscoli which houses a Museum of Agricultural Civilization and a mysterious temple, perhaps used by Freemasonry or perhaps even for esoteric or human experiments, dedicated to Minerva Medica.
Moving to Peccioli, more precisely in the small village of Ghizzano, the small family-run organic farm, Teo Tartufi, has created a short truffle chain from the quarryman to the consumer, with organic products with truffle aroma (butter, honey, rice, pesto) and offers the experience of a real truffle hunt with your dog in the natural truffle grounds of the nearby woods, concluding with the final tasting in the company.
In the village, don’t forget to visit the characteristic Italian garden (Sound Garden) of the Ghizzano Estate,. We also recommend a stop in Peccioli: among the “chiassi” (the alleys) and the small squares an interesting journey of contemporary art unfolds and an offer for lovers of the art of four museums. For children, instead, the paths of the urban adventure park “Pecciolo Avventura” and, just outside the town, the Prehistoric Park.
Last stop Volterra, with a millenary history that dates back to the Etruscan era, and a city famous also for its alabaster processing. The truffle association of the upper Val di Cecina, which brings together the truffles of Volterra and the neighboring municipalities has, as its purpose, the conservation and protection of these lands. And that every year organizes the gastronomic review Volterra Gusto, which celebrates truffles in three distinct periods of the year. A walk in the historic center of this jewel is a real dive into the past, perhaps using the Volterra Card to visit the main attractions alone, as a couple or with the family.