Fabrizio Furiosi: A Man with a Plan


by Tracy Ging

Fabrizio Furiosi walks with purpose toward his mountain. The earth feels his steps. His dogs, Cecilia and Lella, circle excitedly. The smell of truffles fills their noses, making them anxious to begin. They are careful to wait for their master’s command. At a clearing filled with hazelnut trees, Fabrizio stretches out his muscular arm and points. The hunt begins.

Truffles are money, as Fabrizio likes to say, and the area around Cagli, Italy, is the epicenter. The region’s rocky soil and low moisture are ideal for truffles, and the area is known to produce some sizable prizes. White truffles can command more than 10,000 euros per kilogram.Truffles are money and Cagli is the epicenter. Truffles are a parasite, and while their growth can be encouraged, there is no guarantee they will show up. There is little control over when and where truffles will grow. Each day is a surprise. Some days, after beginning at 3 a.m. and hunting until 6 p.m., Fabrizio comes home with nothing. Other days, which Fabrizio counts on, end far more successfully.

The dogs race ahead, climbing banks, squeezing themselves through narrow trees, and crushing branches beneath their paws. Movement stops and both dogs bury their noses under a pile of leaves. Fabrizio supervises closely. The dogs run back to him with empty mouths, but Fabrizio pets and plays with them anyway. Affection washes over his face, and even though they have a job to do, the three play for a moment.

There are more than a 1,000 truffle hunters in Cagli. Competition is fierce. Fabrizio has been hunting truffles for over 30 years and credits his dogs with his success. He owns eight dogs and will work with them for up to 10 hours a day, training their noses. Once he entered his dog Bau in a truffle-hunting competition. Bau found a one-kilo truffle, large enough to win. But Bau kept forcing his nose into the side of Fabrizio’s leg. After repeated prodding, Fabrizio finally moved, and Bau went to work digging where Fabrizio had been standing. Bau found another truffle just over one kilo. Fabrizio says he believes Bau is the best truffle dog around and guards him carefully. He is a proud and protective father.

The dogs race down a narrow path, and Fabrizio’s pace quickens. The team travels deeper into the woods, blazing through trees and bushes. Cecilia fixates on a spot and begins tearing the earth apart. Her nose twitches wildly as the digging intensifies. She emerges from the dirt with a black spongy form in her mouth. She bounces toward Fabrizio, climbing up his leg and looking for her treat. Fabrizio rewards her and scratches behind her ears. She nuzzles in, placing her head tenderly on his knee.

Fabrizio FuriosiFabrizio says he has had many other opportunities in life such as careers in the military or police force, but he turned them down to stay in his hometown and work outdoors. Looking around the forest and up at the mountain, he says he doesn’t believe there is any better place to live. For him, truffles are his future. He keeps a detailed diary of every hunt, recording each find. His diary is so sacred, he says, his family doesn’t even know where it is kept. He is intense and calculated, planning for more land, dogs, and of course, truffles.

Fabrizio is a formidable figure yet he laughs often and softens immediately when he approaches his dogs. Fabrizio describes his relationship with them as familial. In fact, he says, “I love my dogs like I do my wife and children.”

Cecilia follows Fabrizio closely, and when he stops, she sits at his feet, begging for more belly rubs. She did well today, finding six truffles in just a short walk. Fabrizio squats and gives in to her demands -- one last “good girl” before the day ends.



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