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Tuscany is the region with the largest wild boar population in Europe. The species are currently estimated at 200.000 and the Italian government wants to reduce that number to 50.000. Each autumn and winter, across the woods and hills of Tuscany, wild boar driven hunting season is open for about 3 months, but still it’s not enough to keep the wild boar population under control.
The sows are fiercely productive and can whelp 4 to 13 piglets, up to 2 times a year. That is the main reason why the population increases at a breakneck speed. Wild boars cause insane amounts of damage to vineyards, gardens and trees, and road accidents are tripled in the last few years.
The importance of the wild boars in Tuscany can be found in the culinary traditions, culture and history. The wild boar driven hunt in Tuscany is one of the oldest and most traditional hunts in the whole of Italy.
In Tuscany hunting is a „sport“ for both middle-aged men as well as for little punks. The hunting season starts on November 1st and lasts until January 31st. A local hunting team consists of at least 18 and not more than 50 members. Usually the hunters meet at the local bar on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday. Their hunting positions are determined by a draw.
Not all hunters effectively shoot the animals. Most of them are beaters, who release their dogs to chase the animals.
Once some animals are spotted they are driven towards hunters who are posted in strategic positions, ready to take their shot.
The Italian wild boar is a combination of the region's native Sus Scrofa and the wild boar introduced from Eastern Europe. Boars are omnivores, they eat almost anything from nuts to worms to small game. In addition, they can smell food from far away, and they can sense predators from long distances. Both boar genders have vicious upper and lower tusks that they sharpen on rocks and trees, and if injured they can easily gore a dog and rip open the groin of a hunter. When boars are injured, they will always run downhill to conserve energy and search for water.
The hunter who has shot a wild boar gets the head of the animal as a trophy. He will also get the liver, with which the local delicacy „Fegatelli“ is prepared, pieces of liver wrapped in fat. The rest of the meat will be distributed among the entire team. In almost every town in rural Tuscany people conserve some wild boar meat in the freezer. The meat is very tasty if it's well prepared.
A very popular wild boar dish is „Cinghiale alla Cacciatora“, Wild boar Hunter style, a stew with red wine.
This is the recipe :
2 carrots - 1 onion – 2 sticks of celery - garlic - 1 litre of red wine
150 ml meat stock – rosemary and bay leaves - vinegar
1 kg of wild boar (in small pieces)
Preparation method :
Marinate the wild boar overnight in 1/2 litre of red wine and a glass of vinegar.
Drain the wild boar and throw away the marinade.
Cinghiale alla Cacciatora
For the stew, poor about three tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot and then add the onion to sauté until it becomes translucent. Then add your carrots, celery and bay leaves for about 5-8 minutes. Add the wild boar to the pot and brown it on all sides, before adding the red wine and the meat stock. Simmer over medium heat for about 2 hours. In Tuscany people eat unsalted bread with this dish, but it is also delicious with polenta or fresh pasta.