Tuesday, 1 March 2022

Unique Truffle Museum Opened in Istria by the Karlić Family

March 1st, 2022 - The museum was established in an old Istrian house that was once home to one of the pioneers of truffle hunting

A truffle museum was opened in Istria, in the village of Paladini near Buzet town. Dedicated to one of the oldest and most precious ingredients in gastronomy, the museum was opened by the Karlić family, writes Glas Istre/Doria Mohorović. The family has many years of experience in truffle hunting and are one of the most renowned manufacturers of truffle products in Croatia and beyond.

For a good part of the local population, truffle hunting is both a business activity and a way of life. The nearby Motovun forest is the biggest truffle habitat in Istria, rich in this valuable item of specific taste and smell that only grows underground. This is why Buzet was declared the City of Truffles in 1999, and their truffle story is now crowned with the newly opened attraction.

Three years ago, Ivan Karlić started to bring his vision to life with a lot of enthusiasm and a great deal of patience. Aided by the locals, he started to collect information, stories, photographs, and old tools used by truffle hunters of the past.

‘From an early age, I spent a lot of time with my late grandpa Ivan, we’d always been very close. As I often tagged along when he went truffle hunting or purchasing truffles from other local hunters, I got to hear many interesting stories. After my grandpa passed, along with a number of truffle hunting pioneers, I had a wish to share all these old stories to prevent them from falling into oblivion and to keep them alive for new generations’, said Ivan Karlić.

He first entered the world of truffles when he was two years old, when he accompanied his parents as they went truffle hunting in the woods. He calls it the best job in the world. ‘You’re walking around in nature and it’s as if you’re on a treasure hunt!’, says Karlić.

273992406_5588848801129635_3105467599614887611_n.jpgKarlić Tartufi Facebook

The museum was established in an old Istrian house that was once home to one of the pioneers of truffle hunting; the Karlić family bought the place and had it refurbished to house the new museum.

The truffle-themed collection is displayed on two floors. The family-business story of the Karlićs is presented on the first floor, along with the history of truffle hunting in Croatia and the world. Many interesting facts about truffles are sprinkled throughout the exhibit; for example, did you know that the extremely expensive truffles we know and love once used to be called ‘stinky potatoes’? Istrian peasants first found truffles by chance and not knowing what they were, kept discarding them until they learned of their value.

The second floor of the museum offers an interactive experience that draws the visitor into the interesting world of truffles through auditory, visual and olfactory stimuli. Along with the sounds of the Motovun forest echoing through the room, there are also videos of interviews with old truffle hunters, full of anecdotes.

On the central table, displayed are the six most common truffles that can be found in Istria. The most intense, Karlić explains, is the white spring truffle whose scent is reminiscent of chocolate - and visitors get to breathe in the rich aroma as well.

274080669_5588848797796302_5984918939907051566_n.jpgKarlić Tartufi Facebook

Visitors to the museum have the rare opportunity to see the largest truffle in the world, weighing 1.31 kilograms, which is entered in the Guinness Book of Records. It was found by Giancarlo Zigante, the father of truffle hunting in Istria, who gave the museum a casting of the largest white truffle for their collection.

Even though it just opened, the museum has already drawn a lot of attention. It’s not unexpected, said Karlić, considering there are only five or six museums of this kind in the whole world. He also points out the museum isn’t solely dedicated to truffles, but to truffle hunting as a business activity and a tradition cherished in all of Istria.

The truffle museum can be visited free of charge until May 1st, 2022. Located at the address Paladini 14, it will remain open throughout the year, from 9 AM to 4 PM on workdays.