It’s time to get serious and head to the mountains. Searching for porcini spots I pin some random place on the map, somewhere North East of Milan. But first a stop for coffee and focaccia. Valleys give way to rugged mountains. We pass a lovely lake and see two guys preparing for spearfishing! Arriving in the Alpic region, forests look grandiose. If not here where?
Asking for fungi leads me to Guido the hotel expert. We try to communicate in Italian, about some valley after the village of St. Antonio. Posso trovare qui a poi giri a destra. Or something like that. But wait two minutes. I will take you to the start of the footpath. I was not prepared for that, just went down to pick some stuff from the car. But hey, you don’t plan serendipitous moments. Guido appears with the hotel van and I jump along. Yana will understand.
Dashing through the narrow streets he drives like a local and greets everybody. We stop at a farm where he chats to a lady with two rose cheeked daughters and a dog. I cannot follow the exchange but the woman disappears inside the house only to come out a minute later holding a fresh egg. Just your casual drinking egg for the road. A few local interactions and we arrive in the next village, the starting point of two footpaths. Both leading to valleys were porcini grow plentiful. On the way back we speed like Valentino Rossi, pass a red light and don’t bother stopping at a roundabout. “There is no police here”. I run to the room, Yana is amused, grab the car keys and Strelka and we head to the valley. There is still some daylight. We don’t encounter a soul in the path, just empty mountain huts. Fresh oxygen tickles the nostrils. Unleashed we reach the valley, stillness and more huts.
The forests are so dense that light has a hard time breaking through. We scout the ground yet no prized mushroom in sight. I have to admit defeat. As the song goes: ” I been in the right place but it must have been the wrong time”. Apparently up here the porcini season ended in September. On the way back, we meet the friendliest pack of donkeys. They come so close I can pet them in the head. Strelka freaks out and starts running in circles. As Heraclitus said: “Dogs bark at what they don’t understand.” Need more donkeys and more exposure!