The Family Savini and the truffle
The launch of the Savini family into the world of truffles began in the Twenties, when Giuseppe Savini, married to Luisa Balestri and the father of four, Vittorio, Argantina, Zelindo and Savino, who lived in Balconevisi, a village on the Tuscan hills not far from San Miniato, had a passion for truffle hunting with his faithful dog. A favourable area for growing valuable white truffles (which were not so popular back then), where the local vegetation, climate and expanses of hilly areas, which make the Era Valley one of the greenest and freshest in Tuscany, produces truly excellent truffles! This favoured his passion, since, without having to go too far from home, he could walk through vast woody areas, the so-called Tartufaie (truffle grounds, because of the aforesaid features).
As it often happens, especially in the families of those times, such passion was soon handed down to his sons as well who, as they grew, began to go truffle hunting with their father. Maybe the least versed or keen of his sons was Zelindo, who certainly preferred game hunting, not least because he could earn a few more liras to indulge in the habits of a young man of the time. Zelindo would be the one who actually launched our company into the world of truffles. It was the Fifties, and Zelindo, back home after the end of the Second World War, married Leontina Chiti, with whom he had three children, and started to work in the estate of Villa Saletta at Palaia (10 km from San Miniato) as a farmer. With his firm, resolute temper, he soon became his master’s trusted man and was appointed to assist the bailiff in responsible positions and eventually became the estate’s gamekeeper because of his passion and cleverness. As well as monitoring the estate’s game preserve, he was the man in charge of escorting the illustrious guests of the estate, that at that time belonged to the Gambacastelli family, around the woods and find the places where they could hunt the best specimens living in the owner’s preserve.
He bought a grocery shop-cum-bar at Montanelli, a small village in the municipal area of Palaia, near Forcoli, a place where game and truffle hunters used to meet for breakfast at dawn, for morning snacks and long after-dinner nights. So he became even more familiar with the truffle hunters’ world as he lived in close contact with them from morning to night, and then he could simply sneak off to the back of his shop at the right time to buy and sell truffles, far from prying and curious eyes. Luciano, the second-born son (who at that time was a young pastry cook and a great lover of cooking), who obviously already had a passion for truffles deeply rooted in his genes, probably the Savini family’s distinctive sign, ran the bar with Carla, his wife.
But Luciano’s job was not just taking care of the bar; it was him who went with and assisted Zelindo in his visits to truffle hunters, in his journeys for ‘midway’ negotiations with traders from Piedmont or Milan, as well as helping him in his deliveries or visiting the local restaurants and delis who worked with truffles.
Tonno del Chianti with truffles | Tuscany
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