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As the spread of COVID-19 grips the world, people are looking for a silver lining anywhere they can during such a trying time. And one thing benefiting from the halt in travel is nature. Venice's canals have never been clearer, and the air in Los Angeles has never been cleaner. Now, those living in Tuscany are saying that the truffle fields are thriving from the break in tourism.
Thousands of travelers flock to Italy each year to enjoy the natural delicacy, and the Tuscany region is one of the most important for truffle production. It's here where certified hunters, like Giulio Benuzzi, lead regular guided walks in search of this coveted ingredient.
Typically, Giulio the Truffle Hunter and his adorable shaggy dogs, Eda and Maga, would be hosting truffle hunts at 15th-century villa turned luxury hotel Il Salviatino as black truffles grow year-round on the 12 private acres. During those walks, he teaches guests the basics about the coveted ingredient, including the origin of the truffle, the different varieties, and the process of training his pups to find them in the wild.
But, with those hunts on hold, Benuzzi has been showing beautiful, clear views of Florence from his home in the hills on Instagram and saying the tourism pause is giving local wildlife a needed break.
"The pause in truffle hunting is giving an important break to the trees and wild animals in our Tuscan forests, where the air is now more pure, and the trees themselves seem to be in better condition," he told Departures. "I can see this from my home in the hills, where views of Florence in the distance are more clear. With this temporary pause on tourism, the desire and pleasure of eating truffles, as well as other Italian delicacies, is becoming stronger."
He added, "And when travelers return to Italy, we'll be here to satisfy that craving with an abundance of delicious truffles."