Tuscany’s hidden truffle town

Caprese Michelangelo

Clare Speak
December 6, 2017 - 9:02

At this time of year there’s no better thing to eat in Tuscany than black truffles, whether they’ve been shaved and scattered liberally onto our dinner or drizzled over it in the form of a delicately infused oil. But quality and price are often issues. If you’re looking for the best place to eat them without paying a fortune, there’s a small town on the region’s eastern border that’s known locally as a truffle-lovers’ paradise.

Caprese Michelangelo is, as the name suggests, famously the birthplace of Renaissance artist Michelangelo Buonarroti. And it’s also known as the best-value place in the region to eat any sort of dish containing local truffles. The town has a surprising number of excellent restaurants specialising in traditional fare, and at very reasonable prices.

A scenic and sometime hair-raising drive up steep, zigzagging country roads eventually brings you to the tiny medieval town, draped over a hilltop in the Upper Tiber Valley. This area is known as La piccola valle di Dio, or “the little valley of God” for its many sites connected with the travels of St Francis. The valley’s thickly forested hillsides are a palette of red and gold at this time of year, and its forest floors a treasure trove of truffles and mushrooms which local chefs take full advantage of.

Still and serene, Caprese Michelangelo looks down upon the forests below and with the vivid turquoise of Lake Montedoglio visible in the distance. You’ll have plenty to see on a walk around town after lunch. Caprese is home to a museum inside the very house where Michelangelo was born, which is itself within the walls of the old Castle of Caprese. There’s also the 13th-century church of St. John the Baptist, where Michelangelo was baptised.


 

Where to eat


Il Cerro

It might look rustic with its simple, wood-panelled dining room and family feel, but the standard of food and service puts many an upscale inner-city restaurant to shame. Expect traditional Tuscan fare cooked just so, including butter-soft fillets of veal topped with local mushrooms and bite-sized pillows of homemade agnolotti soused in a heavenly truffle infused cream. Linger a while to enjoy the views with a drop of the family’s homemade rosolio di ciliege, a cherry liquor.

Via Il Cerro 120 - Tel. +39 0575 793923

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La Buca di Michelangelo

Discover the rich flavours of the Tuscan hills at this very good-value traditional restaurant, part of a quaint hotel. It sits at the foot of the hill leading to the old castle and enjoys panoramic views of the forests and hillsides below. Hearty dishes perfect for these plunging temperatures include rich potato gnocchetti and locally-reared lamb chops cooked with truffles.

Via Capoluogo 51 - tel. +39 0575 793921

Website

 

Il Rifugio

Don’t drive past this family-run local favourite, where fresh mushrooms are prepared every which way and rich truffle-laced risotto and tortellini dishes sprinkled with fresh pecorino hit the spot every time. You can’t go wrong with the wine list here, and service manages to be both friendly and lightning-fast.

Località Lama, 47 - tel. +39 0575 793752

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