“It is a quarter to six, on a cool, misty morning and I’m in my garden in the hills above Florence, which is visible in the distance. The renaissance is right there before my eyes, and Brunelleschi’s Duomo appears to me in its hazy morning splendour through the crisp air. Dawn is arriving and Maga, my inseparable truffle dog, is already anxious for her coffee, a tiny vice that I grant her each morning - with two truffle shavings of course.”
To you and I, this may sound like the beginning of a fairytale adventure but for Giulio Benuzzi, this routine is all part of his long-standing passion for Florence’s national treasure, the truffle. Giulio is many things; an entertainer, a family man and above all, incredibly knowledgeable about truffles. Hotel Savoy’s very own Truffle Concierge is a real “star”, a consummate host and gifted storyteller. He loves to share his passion for truffles with zeal and charisma.
Hollywood leading lights, film directors, and other celebrities come from all over the world to enjoy truffle hunting with Giulio whose name has become synonymous with this most elusive of delicacies. The thrill of setting off into the forest in search of truffles, hidden in plain sight just under the ground, is one of the most memorable of Tuscan traditions, the secrets of which are passed down through generations of truffle hunters. Guests return time and again to experience the joy of the hunt and reconnect with nature.
Guided by expert hunter Giulio and his astute canine companions, discover the art of truffle hunting in the idyllic countryside of Bagno a Ripoli, a 25-minute drive from Hotel Savoy. From Giulio’s private country house, guests set off with the truffle hunter and his two truffle hounds, Maga, known as 'the diva', and Scott, to search for the fungi in the fertile soil, usually between the size of a marble and a golf ball. The walks, which are based around the seasons and paced to the guests, include a light picnic in the forest with some truffle sandwiches, of course, and red wine. A highlight is observing the interaction between the hunter and his talented dogs, this is an authentic Tuscan experience that will linger long in the memory. Any truffles hunted out can be purchased at the daily rate.
After seeking out the largest truffles, return to Guilio’s farmhouse - fondly known as ‘The Truffle House’ - and a delicious truffle-based aperitivo, lunch or dinner prepared by the man himself, which might include focaccia with truffle sauce and even truffle ice cream, paired with exquisite Tuscan wine: a once-in-a-lifetime experience for any food-enthusiasts. Both adults and children will delight in Giulio’s engaging tales of regional food and ancient traditions.
Turin-born Giulio Benuzzi is a member of the Tuscan truffle association, Associazione Tartufai delle Colline della Bassa Valdelsa. After managing Milan’s iconic restaurant, e Api, Giulio opened a charming bed and breakfast at the foot of Florence’s southern hillside, which became a place of pilgrimage for American gastronomes. In 2003 Giulio obtained an Italian truffle license and has become a pioneer and renowned name in truffle hunting over the last two decades.
The Truffle Experience is bookable all year - upon availability - through the Concierge at least 48 hours in advance. When booking a stay at Hotel Savoy in Florence, contact our Concierge team in advance by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling +39 055 2735836 and ask for the one and only Giulio, they will know precisely who you are referring to!
When booking the experience, please request the type of meal - aperitif, lunch or dinner - you would like to be arranged.