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.