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Best home base for a truffle vacation?

I'm new to Chowhound but already love it--you guys gave me some invaluable tips for where to hunt for and eat white truffles on my vacation in the fall. Now I need some follow-up advice. I'd like to make truffles and porcinis the focus of my trip, with visits to San Giovanni d'Asso, Citta di Castello, and Gubbio. Gubbio is the only one of the three I have visited, and it's certainly worth a three-day stay, but I don't think it's good home base because it's a bit out of the way. Last time I didn't rent a car, and the trains are great but not to get to these out-of-the-way places: I took a bus for an hour to get to Gubbio. So this time I want to rent a car--but I don't relish the idea of driving in Florence. Any recommendations about where to rent the car, and which town to make my home base? Or is a home base an unworkable idea--would it be better to just drive from truffle town to truffle town, staying a couple of days in each?

Thanks!

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  1. I would suggest San Quirico d'Orcia, which is between Montalcino & Pienza. It is a very nice smaller town that does not get quite the tourist traffic of the other two, which is a plus.
    From San Quirico, it is probably 30 minutes or less by car to San Giovanni d'Asso and perhaps 45-60 minutes to Gubbio.

    1 Reply
    1. re: DavidT

      Thanks, David--and thanks, too, for your very helpful replies to my other truffle-related query. It appears that Italy is one of your favorite haunts!

    2. If you decide to rent a car, you really don't need a "home base" but you can take advantage of staying in some of the wonderful villa/farms/b&bs in the countryside. Simply google "agriturismo" and a region and you'll get plenty of suggestions. (The Karen Brown guides are good starting points, too.

      1 Reply
      1. re: jbw

        Cagli in Marche is a great base. There is a huge truffle fair in Acqualagne just 10km from Cagli. Acqualagne is home to many truffles that eventually get sold as "Norcia" and "Alba" white truffles. The fair is the last weekend in October, November 1, and the first weekend in November usually. Cagli is a tiny town with some good food, a nice wine bar and a couple of caffe and bakeries. It is central to a lot of things to do.

      2. If you're not staying in Florence, you won't need to drive into the city. The airport is on the outskirts of town. I've never had any problems driving there. Agriturismo is the way to go. Spend a couple of days to explore an area and keep moving. That said, I'm going to be in Piemonte in 2 weeks and I'm staying in one spot the whole time. I've done it both ways and I guess it just depends on how wide an area you want to explore.

        1 Reply
        1. re: socaldesign

          I'm not staying in Florence (though I do love it--I just want to see some new-to-me territory on this trip). In fact, I am flying in to Pisa, a new route by Delta airlines starting this month.

          And in response to deangold, the Marche is starting to look like a more and more attractive option as well--a whole new (again, to me) region to explore!

        2. if you are interested in exploring less traveled roads, i recommend Sant'Agata Feltria. they have a yearly Fiera del Tartufo in october. this is the site, i don't know if they have an english version http://www.santagatainfiera.com/
          i have wonderful memories of the fair. thousands of vendors selling delicacies of all sorts, from salumi to honey and of course, some amazing tartufi. the food is pretty amazing too. i have to say i'm biased because i grew up near there and i miss it so much. however, the landscape is beautiful, there are not too many foreign tourists, maybe you should give it a try? sant'agata feltria is locate along the route E-45, therefore if you stayed in gubbio or perugia you could travel north to the Marche and even further to the BEAUTIFUL land of Romagna. consider a visit to Cesena. But I'm rambling now. Enjoy your trip

           
          8 Replies
          1. re: laromagnola

            This sounds amazing. I do speak a little Italian and so was able to decipher the website pretty well. It appears the truffle festival is every weekend in October. And this is in the Marche region, right? Beginning to look more and more like a great destination!
            Thanks so much!

            1. re: alixschwartz

              yes, the truffle festival is every weekend in October. Sant'Agata Feltria technically is in the Marche but it's right on the border with Emilia Romagna. It is just south of the wonderful Verghereto area. well, needless to say the landscape is pretty neat around there. since you can read italian here is a link http://www.comunic.it/vallesavio/fuma...
              have you tried formaggio di fossa? it's cheese aged in ditches in the ground, literally. i don't think that cheese would pass US production standards ah. the truffle festival is the place for it. there are producers from all over the area that go there to sell it. how about wild boar dry sausage? i hope i'm convincing you ahhaa

              1. re: laromagnola

                Yes, you are definitely convincing me. I have had the wild boar sausage in Gubbio--they feature it there, too, at their white truffle festival. But cheese aged in ditches is new to me, and sounds pretty irresistible. I love this site: I am getting ideas here that are not remotely available in guide books.

                Grazie mille!

                  1. re: laromagnola

                    Go to Savigno in Emilia Romagna in the fall for the Sagra del Tartuffo. Big truffle festival, small town, great people. Stay at Amerigo and eat there. The rooms are unique and stylish and the restaurant is an experience you'll always remember. Tiny delicate chestnut filled tortellini, a special local pork done 4 ways, great local Sangiovese come to mind. Go there. Ask for Alberto. The white truffles from this region are intoxicating.

                    1. re: EATTV

                      You're killing me--this sounds great! I looked at their website and clearly they are very serious about food: they include a list of about ten different kinds of mushrooms and their seasons on the website. If I go here, though, that will make four regions (Tuscany, Umbria, Le Marche, and Emilia Romagna) in 13 nights--kind of a whirlwind. At least I have a few months to sort out my priorities.

                      Thanks!

                      --Alix

                      1. re: alixschwartz

                        Here's another website you might fing useful www.stradadelfungo.it. Borgotaro is the capital of the porcini mushrooms and there are two huge mushrooms festivals held there every year, one in Borgotaro itslef (3rd week September) and one in Albareto (2nd week) which I think is better.

                        I went on a really wonderful truffle hunt in the evening, just as it was getting dark, with one of the locals who also runs a B&B in Piedmont. the website is www.traarteequerce.it.

                        1. re: coombe

                          I love, love, love porcinis, but will be in Italy in late October/early November so will have to miss this particular festival (which may be a blessing in disguise since my main problem right now is narrowing down all these tempting options).

                          Thanks, though--I trust some chowhound out there will be able to take advantage of this fabulous idea.

                          --Alix