San Giovanni d'Asso - The White Truffle Secret

San Giovanni d'Asso, the white truffle secret.

Following up on our last post about the truffle season in Northern Italy, we wouldn’t be Secretplaces if we would not have another secret spot up our sleeves: Truffles in Tuscany.

Tuscany may be renowned for its stunning landscapes, cuisine and architecture, but it still holds little secrets even to this day. Unless you are a connoisseur of fine white truffles, for example, you may have never heard of San Giovanni D’Asso, a small village nestled comfortably in the hills of a beautiful and undiscovered part of southern Tuscany.
As we headed with childlike anticipation to its main square what immediately struck us was the number of people heading in the opposite direction. Did all the residents of San Giovanni walk their dogs on a Saturday morning? Was there a town meeting in the next village? Then it struck us, this is truffle hunting country par excellence and these folks were off to hunt for those elusive special little mushrooms with the heady aroma.


The natural conditions of this area and lack of pollution produce truffles of the highest quality. But though there are many in the surrounding countryside, they are not easy to find and are often buried a foot underground. A kilo of this “hidden gold” can fetch up to 3000 Euros in the international marketplace and dogs are trained for months on end to find, but not destroy, these hidden treasures. As a friendly local told us “Sometimes we get totally exhausted looking for them. But we never get tired of eating them”. It seems almost everyone in San Giovanni is a truffle hunter and skills are passed on with each generation. It is such a big part of life here that it even boasts Italy’s first truffle museum, housed in the 13th-century castle, no less.
Where to stay if you want to witness or even partake in this activity? Firstly, the truffle hunting season lasts eleven months, from June to April. The black truffle appears on menus in early June. The valued white truffle – also known as the “white diamond of Italy” - grows from September to December.

 

Where to stay:

Locanda del Castello

Clinging to the very castle walls that house the truffle museum, this special lodging is a place of considerable charm and an expert in the art of hospitality. Over the years it has been a welcome refuge to both the aristocracy and simple travelers and the tradition continues to this day. The seven rooms and suites are still decorated with old family furniture and come with a fine view over the soft rolling hills whilst bathrooms are spacious, again reflecting the special care and attention to the smallest details and elegance found in the other areas.
The Locanda’s restaurant does more than justice to San Giovanni d’Asso’s culinary reputation. Not only is it located in the noblest area of the building – the medieval Olive Press Room where many original features are still in a perfect state of preservation - but a meal combining those truffles with pecorino cheese, prosciutto, Montalcino honey and saffron is just mouth-watering. As we said at the beginning, there may be a few undiscovered secrets in Tuscany left, but this, in our opinion, is one of them.

Borgo Lucignanello Bandini

Lucignanello Bandini is to be found in the delightful hamlet of Lucignano d’Asso, which is located at the southernmost tip of Tuscany. In effect, this hamlet consists of two stony roads, two churches, a castle, a quaint little store and a number of smaller houses that look out across rolling fields and patches of woodland towards the outline of Mount Amiata, a visual point of reference for many miles around. Entering Lucignano d’Asso is to enter a living history, where the quality of life is measured in the number of conversations you can strike up, rather than how fast you can eat your food.

 

Out and About in San Giovanni D’Asso

Within a half hour of San Giovanni D’Asso, you could be in:

Montalcino - supping a glass of the world-famous red wine Brunello di Montalcino. The views of the Orcia Valley are amazing and can be seen from all parts of the town.

Pienza - tasting a selection of Pecorino Cheese. This small walled Renaissance village is immaculately kept with every house maintaining hanging baskets or terracotta pots full of flowers in all seasons.

Bagno Vignoni - lunching in one of the many superb restaurants or basking in the sunshine at the edge of the bath in the middle of this tiny village.

Buonconvento - meandering through the Mezzadria Museum of Farming. This small but very interesting and interactive museum will interest all those who are fascinated by the past.

Asciano - admiring the 11th century Romanesque basilica of Sant’Agata.

 

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  • Magnífica colección de casas situada en un encantador pueblecito al sur de La Toscana. Montañas ondulantes, bosques llenos de ciervos y liebres así como olivares, constituyen un buen telón de fondo para este delicioso pueblecito de Lucignano d’Asso, situado en la punta más sureña de la Toscana. Efectivamente, esta aldea está formada por dos carreteras de adoquines, dos iglesias, un castillo, una curiosa tienda y un indeterminado número de casitas frente a campos de cultivo y pequeños bosques, frente al perfil del Monte Amiata – punto visual de referencia en muchos kilómetros a la redonda. Entrar en Lucignano d’Asso es hacerlo en la historia viva, donde la calidad de vida se mide en el número de conversaciones que puedes entablar, más que en la rapidez con la que puedes engullir tu comida. Y es en este marco idílico donde se encuentra Lucignanello Bandini. Bajo los auspicios de Paolo Rossi, uno de los restauradores arquitectónicos más respetados de Italia, las cinco casas que comprenden Lucignanello Bandini (Casa Maria, Casa Severino, Casa Clementina, Casa Amadeo, Casa Remo) han sido rehechas con gran efectividad. Combinan perfectamente con los prodigios de la naturaleza de la zona e incluso las piscinas armonizan con su entorno sin dificultad. Los acabados son de primera categoría y cada casa proporciona un perfecto balance de tono y textura. En cuanto a cada una de ellas, en Clementina hay 4+1 camas con dos pisos frente una plaza exterior; en Amedeo 4+2, en Remo 4 y en Severino 4 camas – que es realmente la única diferencia, ya que en términos de comodidad, calidad e historia, son todas ellas perfectas.

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  • Un precioso hotel toscano, alejado del bullicio A no ser que se sea un buen conocedor de la trufa blanca, es posible que nunca haya oído hablar de San Giovanni d’Asso, un pueblecillo cómodamente acurrucado al pie de las montañas de esta bella pero desconocida región del sur de La Toscana. Colgando de las murallas del castillo de este precioso pueblo se encuentra Locanda del Castello, un establecimiento de gran encanto y buen conocedor del arte de la hospitalidad. Durante años fue refugio de caballistas, la aristocracia, la corte real o simple viajantes. Esa tradición continúa hoy día, y el buen gusto y atención al detalle de Silvana aseguran que así sea. Este pequeño y elegante hotel tiene siete habitaciones y suites decoradas con viejos muebles de la familia y una magnífica vista hacia las montañas ondulantes. Los cuartos de baño son espaciosos y ventilados, reflejando también ese exquisito cuidado al pormenor que encontramos por todos lados. Finalmente, el restaurante hace justicia a la fama de San Giovanni d’Asso de proporcionar deliciosas trufas blancas. Debe haber pocos sitios secretos por conocer en la Toscana, y en nuestra opinión éste es indudablemente unos de ellos.

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    Reservar por teléfono
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    +34 902 430 310 o +351 214 647 430