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The Piceno area of Le Marche is noted for providing a specially favourable habitat for the black truffle, universally prized by gourmets. Less well-known, perhaps, is the role played by Montefalcone Appennino. Although the village has fewer than 500 inhabitants it has almost 100 plots, spread over a similar number of hectares, where truffles are to be found. These plots are cultivated by around sixty families so making Montefalcone, proportionally, a village with one of the highest concentration of truffles in the region. This has led to a change in the appearance of the countryside as cereal and forage crops have given way to widespread plantations – particularly of oaks – which provide a favourable environment for truffles, an income for the landowners, and, as an added bonus, help prevent landslides.

A truffle’s quality is essentially dependent on its freshness as its scent rapidly evaporates. Accordingly, in response to an invitation from the municipality of Montefalcone and its tourist office, several of the local farmers have agreed to open their jealously-guarded truffle plots to the general public so that visitors can purchase a freshly unearthed truffle to eat on-site. There will be an opportunity to learn about how the tubers grow and to see how they are hunted out with truffle-dogs in accordance with Italy’s strict environmental regulations.

Montefalcone is situated almost two and a half thousand feet above sea level on top of an awe-inspiring cliff, where the falcons from whom the village takes its name have their nests. Its restaurants, specialising in local cuisine offer another opportunity to sample the black truffle. With its splendid scenery, historic buildings and museum, the village has much to offer both the naturalist and the visitor who is interested in history and art. Situated a little over half an hour from the sea and a similar distance from the mountains is an ideal centre for exploring this part of Le Marche. There is a range of local accommodation ranging from bed and breakfast through agriturismi (farms with accommodation for guests) and guest houses to self-catering holiday homes.