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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  • Wonderful collection of houses located in an equally charming hamlet in south Tuscany. Rolling hills, woodlands replete with deer, hares and olive groves make up the enchanting backdrop to the equally 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. It is within this idyllic setting that the Lucignanello Bandini is to be found. Under the auspices of Paolo Rossi, one of Italy’s most respected architectural restorers, the five houses that make up the Lucignanello Bandini (Casa Maria, Casa Severino, Casa Clementina, Casa Amedeo, Casa Remo) have been redone to striking effect. They combine perfectly with both the man-made and natural wonders of the area and even the swimming pools blend in seamlessly with their surroundings. Furnishings are top-notch and each home provides a beautifully balanced mixture of texture and tone: the pale-beige of local travertine, the warm hues of terracotta, seasoned wood, trompe-l'oeil motifs, unusual hand-painted ceramics, hessian, canvas, pale jacquard textiles and bright printed cotton.Borgo Lucignanello Bandini is also an ideal place to celebrate your Italian dream wedding. As for the houses: Casa Clementina sleeps 4+1, with two stories facing an outdoor piazza. Casa Amedeo (4+2) is a two-story residence facing onto the borgo's tiny piazza. Casa Remo (4) is an attractive two-story residence occupying the ground floor level and a level three steps down. Casa Maria (3) is one of the smaller houses located within the village cluster. Casa Severino (4) is perhaps the most rustic of the residences. In truth, though, the main differences of the houses are the number of people they accommodate, for in terms of style, comfort, quality and history, they are all lovely.

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  • A lovely little Tuscany hotel still off the beaten track. Unless you are a connoisseur of fine white truffles, you may never have heard of San Giovanni d’Asso, a small hamlet nestled comfortably in the hills of this beautiful and relatively unknown part of southern Tuscany. Clinging on to the castle walls of this charming little town is the Locanda del Castello, a lodging of considerable charm, an expert in the art of hospitality. Over the years it has been a refuge to riders, the aristocracy, the royal train and simple travellers. The tradition continues to this day. Silvana’s refined taste and special care to the smallest detail have made sure of this. It remains an elegant little hotel, whose seven rooms and suites are still decorated with old family furniture and come with a fine view over the soft rolling hills. The bathrooms are spacious and airy, again reflecting the special care an attention to the smallest details and elegance found in the other areas. Finally, the Locanda del Castellos restaurant does justice to San Giovanni d’Asso’s fame for providing the delicious white truffles. There may be few undiscovered secrets in Tuscany left, but this, in our opinion, is one of them.

    Verificar disponibilidade
    Reservar por telefone
    Reservar por telefone
    +351 214 647 430