Italian citizen fined by Turkey for smuggling truffle
An Italian national has been fined 466,509 Turkish Liras, equivalent to about 122,200 U.S. dollars, for trying to take 29 kilograms of white truffle, a tasty tuber in great demand, out of Turkey without permission, according to a statement by the Istanbul Regional Directorate of Forestry.
“He was caught while trying to take the white truffle, also known as tuber borchii, which is highly sought after with a great commercial value and sold for 250 euros per kilo in European countries, albeit not very well-known in our country,” read the statement published on the directorate’s website on March 5.
The Italian citizen, whose name was not revealed in the statement, was accused of smuggling the white truffle when he was passing through the Hamzabeyli Customs Gate at the Turkish-Bulgarian border. He was stopped because he did not have the necessary permissions and documents, the statement added.
He is believed to have collected the truffles in the forests of the Thrace region of Turkey, near the borderline between Turkey, Bulgaria and Greece.
Following the incident, the Istanbul Regional Directorate of Forestry has tightened inspections around the forests to prevent the illegal collection of the truffles.
“We won’t allow unlawful acts that would damage our commitment to sustainably benefit from the truffles, one of the most-valued members of our natural wealth… Forest villagers who witness foreigners wandering, especially with a dog, should inform them to the directorate,” said Istanbul Regional Director of Forestry Recep Ateş on March 5.
The truffles are usually found in close association with tree roots. Certain tuber species, such as the tuber magnatum or white truffle, are held in high esteem especially in French, Italian and Croatian cuisines.