Truffle Wars

RNW archive

This article is part of the RNW archive. RNW is the former Radio Netherlands Worldwide or Wereldomroep, which was founded as the Dutch international public broadcaster in 1947. In 2011, the Dutch government decided to cut funding and shift RNW from the ministry of Education, Culture and Science to the ministry of Foreign Affairs. More information about RNW Media’s current activities can be found at

Ann-Marie Michel travelled to Italy’s Umbria region, famous for its truffles. She discovered a war being waged for this precious, if odorous, delicacy. Truffle hunters were even killing their rival’s truffle hunting dogs.


Truffles are a delicacy found in many regions of the world now. In classical times they were thought the result of thunder or lightning, and the Roman philosopher Cicero called them “children of the earth.” Their rise in popularity in the 19th century led to attempts at cultivation which have increased in recent years as culinary demand far exceeds production and prices rise as high as thousands of Euros per kilo.

Black and white

The white truffle (Tuber magnatum) is native to northern Italy, most famously in the countryside around the city of Alba. The black truffle (Tuber melanosporum) is primarily found in the southern part of France. Both varieties are highly esteemed in traditional cuisines of France, Spain, Italy and Croatia. The 18th century gastronome Brillat-Savarin called them “the diamond of the kitchen.” But today truffles are popular in haute cuisine restaurants all over the world.    

Truffle Wars was produced by Ann-Marie Michel. The documentary was originally broadcast in November 2001.