San Giovanni d’Asso is not a particularly pretty town but it should be on your top list if you come to Tuscany in November or in March and if you are a truffle lover.
Truffles in the UK (where I live) are far far too expensive and unless you are prepared to pay serious money generally what you get is only truffle-flavored or with a tiny percentage of truffle. Therefore, I have decided that I will only get/eat truffle when in Italy (Tuscany or Piedmont) and in large quantities (i.e. daily!).
I have to say that my best truffle based meal was in Radda in Chianti (La Terrazza, Via Pianigiani, 9), possibly one of the most touristy town in Chianti and that’s probably why I was so pleasantly surprised at the amazing quality (and portion!) of truffle dishes. To be fair, I went slightly out of the main touristy season, and that could have helped. 🙂
But if you are in Tuscany and if you are staying in an agriturismo or small bed and breakfast with a full kitchen you can use, it’s well worth trying to buy your own truffles. And that’s enough reason to drive to San Giovanni d’Asso (maybe on your way to Montepulciano). Get a packet of fresh pici (thick, long Italian pasta), a couple of fresh Porcini and you have got dinner sorted. And a bottle of local red wine, of course!
San Giovanni d’Asso is well renowned for its truffle. When I stopped there, in the middle of a miserable and rainy wet day, buying fresh truffle absolutely made my day. I bought them at the Cooperativa Il Tartufo delle Crete Senesi, directly from those that hunt truffles for a living. A small door in San Giovanni d’Asso (Via XX Settembre, 15/A) with a tiny plate outside opens up to a dark room where two young men, in their full military/hunting outfit, welcomed us. The truffle scent that came out from that room is something I will never forget. It looked like they bathe in truffle, and I immediately loved them. And that’s where we bought it. Prices vary according to the truffle quality and size, of course, but for 45 Euro we came out with a couple of medium size truffles and crema con tartufo bianco (with 20% fresh truffle) that was absolutely delicious. Fresh truffle doesn’t last long but with the truffle cream you can do delicious dishes back at home!