You are here


The word "trifolau" comes from Piemonte dialect and indicates the person that the experts call the "digger", i.e. the truffle hunter. It is a romantic figure, which gathers legends, history and superstitious rites. From the clothing, farmer's hat, neck scarf and short cape, to the range of operation, the Albese woods, from the unusual "working hours", strictly at night, to the company of a tabui, the typical search dog: all these elements make the trifolau a fascinating figure, far from being simply defined as an ancient craft. According to the stories of today's trifolau, once the truffle digger was only a normal farmer who, at the end of a day in the fields, tried to integrate the harvest, especially in hard times, with the search for truffles. 

Today, however, there are about 5,000 trifolau with the hobby of looking for truffles. Firemen, lawyers, pensioners, metalworkers, policemen, teachers, but also dedicated professionals... the trifolau of our times are driven by passion, a real "inherited disease" that is passed on from father to son for generations. Even today the trifolau work at night, but not for particular superstitious reasons, as legends say, but because during the day they work and the dogs do not sight to follow the smell. An activity to be carried out with extreme patience, without haste. And if once it was enough to move the earth with the head of the “sapin” (the small hoe that the trifolau uses to dig the soil around the truffle, in order to pull it out without spoiling it), today the main factor is the fine smell of dogs trained to recognise the aroma of truffles, so much so that there is even a University of Truffle Dogs in Roddi d'Alba. The trifolau operate according to precise rules: they know the places and seasons of truffles and with the sapin they extract them with the utmost care in order to allow the formation of new roots and, in this way ensure future harvest. Those devoted to the digging activity need to have a special card: there is an association - Associazione Trifolau e proprietari di piante da tartufo dell’Albese, delle Langhe e Roero e Monregalese (Association of truffle searchers and owners of truffle plants from Alba, Langhe and Roero and Monregalese) - in the province of Cuneo that, after an exam, issues a license necessary to carry out the harvesting activity. A fundamental caution to prevent amateur diggers from ruining the habitat with wrong operations that would put at risk the future growth of truffles, whose quantity, in those areas, is already decreasing.