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Mushroom picking in Italy, area by area

Italy is a land rich in culinary traditions and mushroom picking is one of the favourite activities of forest lovers. Here we find out what the Italian regions have to offer and which delicacies to pick

Italy, with its variety of landscapes and climates, offers a wide range of edible mushroom species and a culture deeply rooted in their discovery and consumption. In this mini guide, we offer advice for those who want to immerse themselves in the mushroom adventure or go to festivals and events and even, of course, just cook them.

What to wear

This is not a gala dinner, but neither is a stroll for retired people only. Mushroom picking is often a real trek, so you need to be equipped with suitable clothing and essential tools:

  • waterproof hiking shoes
  • light clothing (in layers!) that covers legs and arms to avoid scratches from branches and bushes
  • a small knife specially designed for picking mushrooms: a curved blade and wooden handle
  • a wicker basket
  • a GPS device for your safety if you are planning to go into the woods alone
  • the regular and indispensable mushroom picking permit, issued by the local authorities.

Where to go

First, you should ask yourself ‘with whom?’. If Italy abounds in porcini mushrooms everywhere, there are many other delicious species to pick, but it is essential to know how to recognise them. So, if you are not an expert, it is recommended that you participate in guided excursions or consult local guides before embarking on this adventure. 

Up north

Piedmont is one of the most famous regions for mushroom picking in Italy. In the Canavese area (province of Turin), the Sagra del Fungo (Mushroom Festival) is held in Cossano in October, and is dedicated to the bolè, the exquisite porcino, while the Oasi Zegna, in the province of Biella, offers the Sentiero dei Funghi, a 50-minute hike along a route of just over two kilometres. Info:  atl.biella.it

Valsassina, Valtellina, Oltrepò Pavese and Val Camonica are some of the areas of the Lombardy region rich in activities for mushroom enthusiasts. Valle Brembana hosts Fungolandia, the Mushroom Festival, in September, offering a packed programme of excursions with experts, mushroom-based menus and educational workshops. Information and tips are available at in-lombardia.it.

Trentino-Alto Adige, with its spectacular mountain landscapes, offers a great deal of mushrooms. And if you plan to visit Valsugana, Val di Fiemme, Val di Non and Val di Sole, you can try your hand at mushroom picking yourself. But be careful: here too, like everywhere else in Italy, there are strict rules to be observed, to preserve the biodiversity of the area and human health. All info:  visittrentino.info

The Veneto region, along the Belluno Dolomites or on the Asiago Plateau, offers mushrooms to satisfy your appetites, with delicious porcini, chanterelles, but also the less commercial varieties like the craterellus cornucopioides, known by the bizarre name of ‘trumpet of the dead’, to be eaten sautéed in butter. You may join the Bassano Mycological Group to learn and receive advice: amicideifunghibassano.it

In central Italy

The Tuscan-Emilian Apennines, an earthly paradise for mushroom pickers.

In Emilia-Romagna, there is the Strada del Fungo Porcino di Borgotaro (info at stradadelfungo.it) in the Parma area, dedicated to discovering the Porcino di Borgotaro PGI. 

In Tuscany, on Monte Amiata in the province of Grosseto, autumn offers a wonderful foliage and festivals dedicated to mushrooms. Here, one must try the typical Amiata mushroom and chestnut soup: a classic of the rural tradition in which porcini, chanterelle, green-cracking russula, Caesar’s mushrooms, honey fungus, parasol mushrooms and many others can be used.

On the opposite side, the Adriatic, one goes for mushrooms in the Marche region on Monte Nerone, Monte Catria (which gave a 1.5 kg porcino in 2019), Monte Acuto, Genga and the Gola della Rossa and Frasassi Natural Park. In Piandimeleto, in the Province of Pesaro-Urbino, there is also the Mushroom Museum, for real mushroom enthusiasts. More info on letsmarche.it

Set in the heart of Italy, Umbria is one of the most densely forested regions, so it goes without saying that mushrooms abound. The annual Mostra Mercato dei Funghi e delle Erbe Spontanee is held in Spoleto (to participate: umbriatourism.it). 

Down south

The cardoncello mushroom is the king of the Murgia, a karstic plateau in Apulia. Included in the list of Traditional Food Products (PAT) and according to many local legends is said to have aphrodisiac properties. Picking takes place in spring and autumn, especially in Spinazzola, Altamura, Minervino Murge and Gravina in Puglia. More detailed information is available on the website: cardoncellodellamurgia.it

Mushroom picking in a volcanic area within a nature park can be experienced in Campania, in the Roccamorfina area in the province of Caserta. Here, the Porcino Mushroom of the Roccamonfina Volcano grows with a delicate but intense flavour, thanks to the very fertile volcanic land. The website parcodiroccamonfina.it also mentions the presence of a local Mushroom Museum.

Sicily, in the Madonie, Nebrodi and Etna parks, offers mushrooms of all kinds and in particular the Fungo di Ferla, the local name for the delicious cardoncello, while Sardinia is home to the porcino, especially in Gallura and Ogliastra. 

How to eat them

Well, you picked them.  Now, you need to clean them, getting it right is crucial to avoid damaging them, as they are so delicate. Along with our chefs, we have created a tutorial dedicated to cleaning mushrooms, one for the technique of blanching mushrooms and one on how to make a delicious mushroom broth.

Below is a selection of not-to-be-missed recipes to enjoy mushrooms in classic Italian dishes:

Tagliatelle and mushrooms
Sautéed mushrooms with butter
Mushroom soup
Porcini caps ‘alla genovese’ (in the Genoese style)
Porcini Mushrooms ‘alla milanese’ (in the Milanese style)
Mushroom risotto
Omelette with mushrooms
Leek, mushroom, pumpkin and Jerusalem artichoke soup
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