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Truffle hunting makes UNESCO list

Traditional activity has special tie to nature says Coldiretti

(ANSA) - ROME, DEC 16 - Italian truffle hunting has made it onto the UNESCO list of the world's intangible cultural heritage, a UNESCO panel announced in Paris Thursday.
    Practitioners of the traditional practice put in their bid eight years ago.
    Farm group Coldiretti said the accolade "is an important step towards defending a system marked by a special relationship with nature in a rite that is rich with anthropological and cultural aspects.
    "It is a tradition that is decisive for many mountain rural areas which are disadvantaged from the tourist and gastronomic standpoints".
    The art of truffle hunting, Coldiretti said, involves a network of around 73,600 practictioners, called 'tartufai', organised into 45 groups in a national federation ranging from 44,000 individual tartufai to 20,000 'free searchers'.
    Truffle hunting, Coldiretti said, joins Sicilian puppetry (2008), Tenor singing (2000), the Med diet (2010), Cremonese violin making (2012), processional shoulder-borne machines (2013) and Neapolitan pizza makers (2017) on the UNESCO roll of honour.
    Other Italian treasures to be so honoured include falconry, dry-stone walling, the Prosecco Hills, and the beech woods of Aspromonte, the farmers' group said.
    Gastronomes and enthusiasts of the prized and pungent fungus known as the white truffle just had a great 2021 season with prices rising to record levels due to a COVID-linked scarcity.
    The most prestigious truffles are found mostly in the Piedmont region near the town of Alba, where a yearly fair celebrating and auctioning the culinary treasure takes place.
    White truffles are more pungent, rare and expensive than black ones, which have a longer growing season and are more common in the center and south of Italy.
    On November 11, the annual World Truffle Auction at the Grinzane Cavour castle outside of Alba once again attracted tycoons from all over the world to contend for the most valued tubers on the market this season.
    Nestling in the roots of about 50 trees - mostly oaks but also hazels, poplars, mulberries and willows - truffles are rooted out by specially trained dogs.
    With demand shooting up over recent years, hunters have become increasingly competitive and there have even been reports of skulduggery such as hamstringing or even poisoning the champion dogs of rivals. (ANSA).


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