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Pictures | Fri Dec 27, 2013 | 10:10am EST

Digging for white gold

<p>A truffle is seen on a table in Alba, north-western Italy, November 11, 2013. Located in the heart of the Langhe, the hilly southern area of Italy's northwestern Piedmont region, Alba is the country's capital of white truffles. The prized fungus grows two to eight inches below the ground near the roots of trees. They give off an odor which lasts for a limited period of time and can be detected with the assistance of well-trained dogs and experienced hunters. Output of white truffles, which are not cultivated and only grow naturally in forests, has fallen in Italy over the past few years, largely because climate change has brought a damaging mix of drought and torrential rains. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini</p>

A truffle is seen on a table in Alba, north-western Italy, November 11, 2013. Located in the heart of the Langhe, the hilly southern area of Italy's northwestern Piedmont region, Alba is the country's capital of white truffles. The prized fungus...more

A truffle is seen on a table in Alba, north-western Italy, November 11, 2013. Located in the heart of the Langhe, the hilly southern area of Italy's northwestern Piedmont region, Alba is the country's capital of white truffles. The prized fungus grows two to eight inches below the ground near the roots of trees. They give off an odor which lasts for a limited period of time and can be detected with the assistance of well-trained dogs and experienced hunters. Output of white truffles, which are not cultivated and only grow naturally in forests, has fallen in Italy over the past few years, largely because climate change has brought a damaging mix of drought and torrential rains. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini

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<p>Vineyards are seen at sunset in Serralunga d'Alba, in northwestern Italy, November 11, 2013. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini</p>

Vineyards are seen at sunset in Serralunga d'Alba, in northwestern Italy, November 11, 2013. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini

Vineyards are seen at sunset in Serralunga d'Alba, in northwestern Italy, November 11, 2013. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini

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<p>Truffle hunter Ezio Costa, 66, searches for truffles with his dog Jolly in the woods in Monchiero near Alba, northwestern Italy, November 9, 2013. Costa's family have been truffle hunters for four generation. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini</p>

Truffle hunter Ezio Costa, 66, searches for truffles with his dog Jolly in the woods in Monchiero near Alba, northwestern Italy, November 9, 2013. Costa's family have been truffle hunters for four generation. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini

Truffle hunter Ezio Costa, 66, searches for truffles with his dog Jolly in the woods in Monchiero near Alba, northwestern Italy, November 9, 2013. Costa's family have been truffle hunters for four generation. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini

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<p>Truffle hunter Ezio Costa, 66, searches for truffles with his dog Jolly in the woods in Monchiero near Alba northwestern Italy, November 9, 2013. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini</p>

Truffle hunter Ezio Costa, 66, searches for truffles with his dog Jolly in the woods in Monchiero near Alba northwestern Italy, November 9, 2013. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini

Truffle hunter Ezio Costa, 66, searches for truffles with his dog Jolly in the woods in Monchiero near Alba northwestern Italy, November 9, 2013. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini

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<p>Truffle hunter Ezio Costa, 66, search for truffles with his dog Jolly in a wood in Monchiero near Alba northwestern Italy, November 9, 2013. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini</p>

Truffle hunter Ezio Costa, 66, search for truffles with his dog Jolly in a wood in Monchiero near Alba northwestern Italy, November 9, 2013. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini

Truffle hunter Ezio Costa, 66, search for truffles with his dog Jolly in a wood in Monchiero near Alba northwestern Italy, November 9, 2013. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini

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<p>Truffle hunter Ezio Costa, 66, picks up a truffle that was found by his dog Jolly in the woods in Monchiero near Alba northwestern Italy, November 9, 2013. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini</p>

Truffle hunter Ezio Costa, 66, picks up a truffle that was found by his dog Jolly in the woods in Monchiero near Alba northwestern Italy, November 9, 2013. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini

Truffle hunter Ezio Costa, 66, picks up a truffle that was found by his dog Jolly in the woods in Monchiero near Alba northwestern Italy, November 9, 2013. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini

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<p>Truffle hunter Ezio Costa, 66, inspects a truffle that was found by his dog Jolly in the woods in Monchiero near Alba northwestern Italy, November 9, 2013. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini</p>

Truffle hunter Ezio Costa, 66, inspects a truffle that was found by his dog Jolly in the woods in Monchiero near Alba northwestern Italy, November 9, 2013. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini

Truffle hunter Ezio Costa, 66, inspects a truffle that was found by his dog Jolly in the woods in Monchiero near Alba northwestern Italy, November 9, 2013. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini

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<p>Truffle hunter Ezio Costa, 66, inspects a truffle as he sits outside his restaurant in Monchiero near Alba northwestern Italy, November 9, 2013. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini</p>

Truffle hunter Ezio Costa, 66, inspects a truffle as he sits outside his restaurant in Monchiero near Alba northwestern Italy, November 9, 2013. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini

Truffle hunter Ezio Costa, 66, inspects a truffle as he sits outside his restaurant in Monchiero near Alba northwestern Italy, November 9, 2013. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini

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<p>Truffle hunter Ezio Costa, 66, smells a truffle at his restaurant in Monchiero near Alba north-western Italy, November 9, 2013. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini</p>

Truffle hunter Ezio Costa, 66, smells a truffle at his restaurant in Monchiero near Alba north-western Italy, November 9, 2013. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini

Truffle hunter Ezio Costa, 66, smells a truffle at his restaurant in Monchiero near Alba north-western Italy, November 9, 2013. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini

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<p>Photographers take pictures of two truffles weighing 2.09 pounds during the World Alba White Truffle Auction in Grinzane Cavour near Alba, in north-western Italy, November 10, 2013. The two biggest truffles at the auction sold for 90,000 euros (about $120,000) to a buyer from Hong Kong. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini</p>

Photographers take pictures of two truffles weighing 2.09 pounds during the World Alba White Truffle Auction in Grinzane Cavour near Alba, in north-western Italy, November 10, 2013. The two biggest truffles at the auction sold for 90,000 euros (about...more

Photographers take pictures of two truffles weighing 2.09 pounds during the World Alba White Truffle Auction in Grinzane Cavour near Alba, in north-western Italy, November 10, 2013. The two biggest truffles at the auction sold for 90,000 euros (about $120,000) to a buyer from Hong Kong. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini

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<p>A seller shows a truffle to consumers at the truffle market in Alba, north-western Italy, November 9, 2013. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini</p>

A seller shows a truffle to consumers at the truffle market in Alba, north-western Italy, November 9, 2013. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini

A seller shows a truffle to consumers at the truffle market in Alba, north-western Italy, November 9, 2013. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini

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<p>Alessandro Boglione, chef at the Grinzane Cavour castle restaurant, cooks pasta after the World Alba White Truffles Auction in Grinzane Cavour near Alba, in north-western Italy November 10, 2013. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini</p>

Alessandro Boglione, chef at the Grinzane Cavour castle restaurant, cooks pasta after the World Alba White Truffles Auction in Grinzane Cavour near Alba, in north-western Italy November 10, 2013. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini

Alessandro Boglione, chef at the Grinzane Cavour castle restaurant, cooks pasta after the World Alba White Truffles Auction in Grinzane Cavour near Alba, in north-western Italy November 10, 2013. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini

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<p>A dish of cardoon with white truffle and pear is seen at the Guido restaurant in Serralunga d'Alba, in north-western Italy, November 11, 2013. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini</p>

A dish of cardoon with white truffle and pear is seen at the Guido restaurant in Serralunga d'Alba, in north-western Italy, November 11, 2013. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini

A dish of cardoon with white truffle and pear is seen at the Guido restaurant in Serralunga d'Alba, in north-western Italy, November 11, 2013. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini

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<p>A slice of white truffle is seen in this illustration photograph taken in Rome, November 19, 2013. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini</p>

A slice of white truffle is seen in this illustration photograph taken in Rome, November 19, 2013. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini

A slice of white truffle is seen in this illustration photograph taken in Rome, November 19, 2013. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini

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