Truffle-growing is a very important agricultural activity in Italy: there are many wide areas where the growing of excellent truffle species is carried out. Among the most precious species worldwide, we recall Tuber melanosporum vit and Tuber magnatum Pico, almost an exclusive “gift” of some Italian regions as Piedmont, Emilia Romagna, Marches, Umbria and Calabria.
In the past, the only growing attempts refer to Tuber melanosporum, probably because it is the easiest specie to recognize, thanks to the development of the so called “pianello" or “cava”. The first information about attempts to grow black truffles in central Italy date back to last century: a certain Mr. Pietro Fontana, from Spoleto, recommended burying the smallest truffles around oaks and holm-oaks.
However, modern truffle-growing origins come from the researcher Mannozzi-Torini (1956), who invented and perfected a production system of mychorrized plants. It is thanks to those growing systems that in the twenty-year period between 1955 and 1975 countless mychorrized plants were bed out, without known results. During the last thirty years there has been a considerable boost in truffle-growing, evolving from a random experimentation to a scientific and methodical activity.
Thanks to research on the ecology ad biology of fine truffles and to the improvement of production systems of truffle plants, it has been made possible to create new truffle-grounds, using good nursery materials in places with pedoclimactic features that were suitable to the cultivated truffle sort. Tuber Magnatum growing, instead, has shown to be more difficult: it is carried out only in Italy and it's giving conflicting results. The growing of Tuber Aestivum Vitt, Tuber Mesentericum Vitt and Tuber Albidum Pico has been introduced only in recent times, and their results cannot yet be considered scientifically reliable.
A remarkable curiosity: at the end of the last century Italian truffle production touched 107.600 kg, for a total amount of about 1.374.125₤, that was a lot less than the French truffle sales. If it is true that central Europe has been the core of truffle trade for two millenniums, it is also important to notice that the tuber is known from ancient times in other cultures too: desert truffles (terfezias) from Western Asia and Northern Africa have been treasured by nomadic and sedentary people since prehistoric ages; in Kuwait, during good years, terfezias arrived to villages and towns from neighbouring deserts. Traditional Chinese Medicine does not include the tuber, even if it is very common in some Chinese areas; in Japan a soup made with truffles was very popular; and studies carried out in Oregon showed that native Americans knew truffles, even if they didn’t use them. Nowadays Oregon's white truffle (tuber gibbosum) is considered as one of the most important species for American cooking and it is well-known by the members of “North America Truffling Society”.