The Motovun forest has been known for its truffles since ancient times. Local inhabitants used to say that these ‘smelling potatoes’, usually found during land clearings, were favourite among their pigs, while only some recognized their true commercial value. Although the chronicles connect truffles with the construction of the Istrian water supply system and the Poreč-Trieste narrow gauge railway, so called popular Parenzana (1902 – 1935), the first scientific publication confirming the existence of truffles in the Motovun forest as well as their commercialisation occurred during 1930s following the establishment of ‘Azienda del Tartufo – Sella, Hütterott and C. Levade’.
The first registered truffle hunters – Carlo Testoni and Pietro Giovannelli from Pula, native to the truffle region of Emilia Romagna; baroness Barbara Hütterott (a daughter to George Hütterott – an industrialist and a trader, the owner of St. Andrew’s Island near Rovinj, who was also the honorary consul of the Japanese Empire in Trieste), and scientist Massimo Sella, director of the Rovinj Institute for Maritime Biology at that time were among company owners. As the inhabitants of Istria were not very good at truffle searches, the first truffle hunters were brought from Italian regions of Ferrara, Bologna and Ravenna. In 1937, the Motovun forest concession was granted to the family of the first Istrian pilot (1912) Emilio Facchini from Livade, who were also the owners of St. Stephen’s Sp