The Truffle Museum of San Giovanni d’Asso, a small yet characterful town located between the Crete Senesi and the Val d’Orcia, is the first Italian museum to be dedicated to this precious product of the earth. Housed in the evocative cellars of the ancient castle that dominated the Valle dell’Asso, the exhibits wind over 250 square metres, beneath vaulted ceilings and surrounded by walls that still hold traces of frescoes from the early 1300s.
The museum offers modern media that use immediate and engaging displays to offer visitors the opportunity to undertake a delightful journey through the complex world of truffles. The first section is dedicated to the “mystery of the truffle” and to the multiple interpretations the truffle has been subject to in different eras: from the legend that claimed truffles to originate from lightning strikes to the actual scientific definition, the visitor may follow the fate and fortune of this highly prized tuber through various historic moments.
In the second section, “the Truffle and the Senses”, the exposition provides firsthand sensorial experiences involving touch, sound, taste, and finally the so-called “odorama”, an absolute joyride for the sense of smell.
Visitors thus play an active role in expanding their sensory knowledge in a game where the truffle, stimulating as it does the many human senses, becomes a pretext to remember the importance of the senses themselves in each person’s process of getting to know the outside world.
The theme of the museum’s final section is “from the truffle to the table”. It shows techniques in truffle-hunting, preservation, and uses in cooking, and it includes two kitchen scenes: the reproduction of a farm kitchen where truffles are prepared, and an upper-class dining room where truffles are eaten.
Closing the museum’s itinerary is the documentation centre where educational workshops may be held, along with an exhibit dedicated to wild-growing herbs which, in traditional societies, served an important role in nutrition.