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.
“Taste through smell”: the sense of smell helps taste, and to test the connection between the two senses, visitors are invited to taste with their noses held closed and then with their noses open. Try it to believe it!
“Knowing by observing”: enter the natural world in order to understand it better… that’s what we are taught by the large wooden structure that symbolically represents a truffle, where visitors may step inside and spend a quiet moment.
The Truffle Museum and documentation centre
Piazza Gramsci 1 (Castello Comunale)
53020 – San Giovanni d’Asso
Call center: +39 0577 286300 (working from Monday to Friday, 8.30am to 5pm)
from 11th June to 26th September
Friday, Saturday and Sunday, 10.30am to 6.30pm (last entrance at 6pm)
the Museum will remain open during the “Mostra del Tartufo Bianco e del Tartufo Marzuolo” (White Truffle and Marzuolo Truffle Exhibition)
regular: € 4,00
reduced: € 3,00
children under 5 years
The town of San Giovanni d’Asso grew up around an imposing Gothic castle; starting in the 12th century, it belonged to various noble families including the Salimbeni family, and it also served as a granary for the ancient Ospedale Santa Maria della Scala of Siena, one of the oldest hospitals in the world. Near the castle walls stand two Romanesque churches, the Church of St. John the Baptist and the Church of St. Peter in Villore, with Lombard and Tuscan inserts. The town is famous worldwide for its production of truffles, to which an annual Festival and Market is dedicated every November. In the country just outside town is the Bosco della Ragnaia, a vast green area designed by the contemporary artist Sheppard Craige. Also nearby are the Castle of Monterongriffoli and the lovely town of Montisi, noted for its annual historic reenactment of the Giostra di Simone jousting tournament.