I recently went hiking in Italy with my mom and sisters. Part of the fun for me, other than spending time with my family who I don’t see very often since we live on different continents, was learning some new things about life in Italy.
We walked past lots of mushrooms, and I learnt that you need to have a license to pick mushrooms. In some areas, you can get the license only once you attended a basic course and passed a test. Each region has its own regulations, and also its own picking calendar (days when mushroom picking is allowed), as well as the quantity of mushrooms allowed per person (usually 3kg per person per day). Placing the mushrooms in bags is illegal: you must use wicker-type baskets for collection to ensure that the mushroom spores are distributed as you walk through the woods.
Each year about 40,000 people suffer mushroom poisoning in Italy, so it is very important to be 100% sure your mushrooms are edible. In Italy, you can take your wild picked mushrooms to the local pharmacist or doctor who will identify them free of charge. Our Italian guide for our hike, told us that if you don’t take your mushrooms to the pharmacy and your guests die from mushroom poisoning, you can get tried for manslaughter! Definitely an incentive to make sure about your mushroom’s identity!
Wild mushrooms are the main ingredient in fettuccine ai funghi – some form of which are on many local menus in the Italian Alps. I can definitely recommend trying it!