The mountains around Trento are a great place to find wild edible mushrooms. All it takes is a few rainy days and the cool fall air and the forests will be filled with the little mushroom caps poking up through the ground. They leave a wonderfully pungent earthy scent. Traipsing through the woods on such a day hunting for edible mushrooms is a true joy after the hot sun-filled summer days. A successful day will leave you with a basket full of mushrooms ready for lunch.
Some of the edible mushrooms in the area are:
Parasol mushroom – the mushrooms are easy to spot as they are quite large and stand well above the forest floor. The name also seems very apt as they look like little sun umbrellas. They have a ring around the stem and gills on the bottom. They have a nutty and sweet taste when cooked. We used the top breaded and fried as a steak of sorts whereas the stem which is a bit tougher went into a sauce.
Porcini – these are highly prized mushrooms in the area. We didn’t find any the first time we went foraging in August but after a few days of rain in September we found quite a few. Porcini are pretty easy to identify and have a soft spongy underside.
Chanterelles – We found small Chanterelles clustered around the roots of a pine tree. They seem to really like moisture as we found them always in the wettest patches, usually surrounded by lots of moss. They are low to the ground and small so not easy to spot except for their color which is bright yellow. The color and shape are pretty unique making them easy to identify. They have a much more delicate and fine taste than the other mushrooms an smell delicious raw. I would describe it as lightly earthy and fruity.
Wood Hedgehog – these little mushrooms are some more we found while foraging in September. They were very easy to identify because they were the only mushrooms we saw where the underside looked like little needles. Presumably, that’s why the mushroom is called the wood hedgehog. Our reading said this only has two look-alikes, which are also both edible (at least after being cooked).
Bay Bolete – this mushroom is one that is often confused with Porcini’s. It doesn’t taste as nice. The giveaway for this mushroom is that when you bruise the spongy underside it will leave a blue stain. Ou friend told us when she used to go mushroom picking with her grandma this was one of the only two mushrooms she would be allowed to gather because the blue bruising is unmistakable.
Honey Fungus – these mushrooms are called “little nails” – Chiodini in Italian because of their small size, long stem, and cap. They grow in clusters. It grows on rotting wood or roots. We didn’t find any of these but I was assured these are super common in the area.
Another one that is apparently common is the Bloody Milkcap. This is another we didn’t find or weren’t positive about in our identification. In general, milkcaps have a frilled underside. When you bruise or cut the underside they bleed a certain color. Be careful here as there are some other milkcap kinds which are poisonous.
Only ever eat mushrooms you are 100% sure are safe. My descriptions and photos here are incomplete – do more research. Many mushrooms have look-alikes which are toxic or poisonous. It’s best to go with someone who knows what they are doing. The web, apps and books can also help but shouldn’t be relied on. We went and picked the ones we knew but brought them to an older neighbor to double-check before eating them. What is also really cool is that some places have “Mycology help desks” where a mushroom expert is available to have a look at your pickings and make sure they are edible. For example, the towns of Teserro and Predazzo in Val Fiemme have these available in late summer and fall of 2023 for an hour every evening.
So where can you find these mushrooms? Well everyone in Trentino has their prized spots and no one gives them up willingly – including me. Mushroom picking is pretty popular so often by the evening all the good ones will have been picked. Try to find a place with fewer people than usual. Keep your eyes open when you’re traveling around for cars parked on the sides of forest roads and people with baskets off-trail. The good thing is you can find mushrooms pretty much everywhere. Any darker, damper bit of forest will do. Mushrooms also like semi-clear forest floors where there aren’t lots of shrubs or moss competing with them. Recently disturbed forests as by logging or a fire can also be good places. My reading tells me forests with beech forests and those with nut trees like Chestnuts are also best – though our experience was that pretty plane pine forests were actually better. The visit Trentino website does list a few specific spots to look for mushrooms. For example, it says that Val Fiemme (northwest of Trento) near Pezo del Gazolin is a good spot. Here is an interesting map that may help too.
Like always with life in Italy there are a few rules to follow. In general you need a permit to collect mushrooms, which is only available to residents. You can take max 2kg per person per day and must collect between 7 am and 7 pm. Do not disturb the forest floor when picking. This ensures the mushrooms will come back. You should carry the mushrooms in a container with holes such as a basket so the spores can be spread while you carry them.