If you had €1000 to spend, what would you buy? Plenty of food lovers lucky enough to be in Alba for October wouldn't hesitate to pay a chunk of that for the redolent Tuber magnatum, that elusive underground mushroom, the white truffle.
In a land that has food and wine worthy of kings, it is only fitting that one of the world's most expensive foods can be found in its best form here in the territories of the Langhe and Roero. And Italians take their gastronomy seriously - though in that blend of serious appreciation and casual eating and socializing that only they know how to do best. It explains how a festival of such grand proportions has been held for 83 years, and yet keeps its perfect balance between serious quality (expert truffle tasters monitoring the sale and protection of truffles; important national wine tastings) and fun events (the donkey race, the music, the Medieval parades).
Truffle Festival activities last from October 12-November 17, but the main events are over the weekends with a few unmissable ones occurring before the fair. Read about which events to attend that are going on before and during the Festival; and download the full program in English. (also in French and German) to make sure you don't miss out on anything.
BEFORE IT BEGINS
Saturday, September 28, 2013: Podesta Investiture
The festival's and the city's atmosphere is set with the Podesta Investiture. As its Latin name implies, this tradition re-enacts a medieval ceremony, the Investiture of the Chief Magistrate. From the Cathedral to the Town Hall in Piazza Risorgimento at 9:00 pm, the area and its people are decked out in beautiful, full medieval costume. While the truffle fair itself is just 83 years old, the food traditions surrounding it and the Palio (see below) are a thousand years old.
Piazza Risorgimento - 9:00 pm
Sunday, Sept. 29 and Sunday, Nov. 3: "Wine Festival," "Langhe and Roero on Show."
The 14th edition of this wine tasting (promoted and organized by GoWine) takes place on Sept. 29 with top wines of Nebbiolo, Roero, Roero Arnesi, Barbera d'Alba, Dolcetto d'Alba, Dolcetto di Diano, Dolcetto di Dogliani, and more. Then, on Nov. 3, the historical town center is set up with stands full of traditional foods ready for tasting and purchasing, plus an area for continued wine tastings. Artisan food products and wines are some of the best souvenirs, memories, and gifts to take home that everyone enjoys.
Sept. 29: Town center 2:00-8:00 pm
Sun. 3: Town center 10:00 am-7:00 pm
+39 0173 36 46 31
Every Saturday: Wine Tasting Experience
The Truffle Fair will give you many opportunities for wine tasting: another example is this one, aptly named the Wine Tasting Experience, that takes place every Saturday in English at 4:00 pm (Sundays at 4:00 in Italian). Expect to taste some of the Langhe and the Roero's most treasured wines, such as Barolo DOCG and Barbaresco DOCG.
By reservation only | For information:
+39 0173 22 09 43
Saturday-Sunday 5-6, 2013: XXVII International Bocce Competition
What would a great Italian event be without bocce (how do you even say that? bo-chee)? This traditional Italian sport, often baffling to foreigners, takes on a professional level and competitive edge at this international competition. It's a piece of real Italian culture if you're looking for a truly unique experience!
2:00 pm and 11:00 pm
Sunday, Oct. 6: Palio degli Asini, The Donkey Race
On this first weekend in October is one of the city's most highly-anticipated events, a competition whose roots go back just about 1000 years when the citizens of Alba mocked the horse Palio (similar to that of Siena) in Asti by holding a "race" of humble donkeys. Nine districts of Alba are represented in teams and thousands of supporters for the jockeys, who will attempt to steer their trusty steeds to the finish line. Expect a rousing good time. The prize is a hand-painted silk banner by this year's artist Paolo Galetto. Before the race, a medieval procession will parade through the main piazzas and town center with over a thousand participants, from noblewomen and knights to standard bearers and trumpet blowers. Don't miss this event! Reserve your tickets here.
The donkey draw for each town district:
Piazza Risorgimento 10:00 am
Town center 2:30 pm
Piazza Medford 4:30 pm
Wednesday, Oct. 9 and 23; Nov. 9: Dinner in the Dark
What more apt of a moment to trust in your senses of taste and smell than at the Truffle Fair? Dinner in the Dark is exactly what its name implies, held on Wednesdays for those looking for an event in between the packed weekends. At three different restaurants, this dinner allows diners a gustatory feast unmarred by sight, which so often determines our dining judgment.
See the days, times, and hosting restaurants here
AND IT BEGINS
Oct. 12-Nov. 17: Alba White Truffle World Market
This is the fashion show for food: the Truffle Market is perhaps the most important part of the fair. If you're looking to experience the Tuber magnatum, even if in town for just one day, here is where you can smell the heady aroma and purchase this gem of the Langhe and the Roero in its best form. This is the serious Truffle Fair, with experts, trifolao, who certify the truffles: each and every one is checked for defects and analyzed for quality before entering the market for sale. While the prices may be higher here than in Alba's specialty shops during these months, you are assured of buying an unblemished, top-quality, perfect specimen.
Questions? The trifolao are available for consultation at the Infopoint.
Saturday and Sunday: 9:00 am - 8:00 pm
Special extra opening: November 1st
For more information, contact:
Associazione per il Centro Nazionale Studi Tartufo
Alba, Piazza Risorgimento, 2
Monday - Friday: 9:00 am - 1:00 pm | 2:00 pm - 6:00 pm
Oct.19-20: Truffle Baccanal and Medieval Fair
If you had to choose just one weekend to visit the Truffle Fair, consider coming Sat. 19 and Sun. 20. Steeped in tradition is one of the fair's most popular festivals, an historical reenactment and food and wine festival in one. It begins on Saturday night, with the streets and shops already decked out in medieval decoration in anticipation for the day to come. Lots of wine and good cheer are passed around, though Saturday is mostly frequented by locals and calmer than Sunday. That's the day Italian and international tourists alike arrive en masse to see the entire city of Alba pulled back centuries in time to the Medieval Ages. Costumed and bedecked in Middle Age finery, market stalls sell food and artisan items and all the stores are open from 10:00 to 8:00 in the evening.
Historical center - Sat. 19, begins at 6:00 pm
Historical center - Sun. 20, 10:00 am - 8:00 pm
Every Saturday: Truffle tasting course
Imagine a new color. Impossible? That's the aroma of a truffle: its intoxicating scent is unlike anything else. Or perhaps you're not new to the alluring tuber, but you haven't yet purchased your own. Learn how to choose a high quality truffle, how to store them, and how to best prepare and enjoy them with an expert in Sensory Analysis from OIAT (International Truffle Tasters Association).
Call to make a reservation:
Associazione Centro Nazionale Studi Tartufo
+39 0173 22 81 90
You've come to the right place if you want to experience the best of the Langhe and Roero (and some may say of all Piemonte), gastronomically speaking. Pair the beguiling scent of truffle with a swirling glass of vintage Barolo and experience food-wine transcendentalism. However, this territory certainly offers other delicacies in the realm of food that must be tried in order to round out the gastronomic food experience. Behold:
Piazza Risorgimento 10:00 am and 6:00 pm
With the risk of writing a list of the best things to do during the Truffle Fair that includes every single event, the recommendations end here. But don't forget to download the program to find more events with wine, food, truffles, music, art, and culture to make your stay, even if for a single day, as memorable as the lingering scent of a truffle.
Looking to stay in or near Alba?
The hotels in Alba will be booked quickly (if they're not already!), so read our Itineraries and Focus articles in the Langhe and the Roero for Wine Pass recommendations in nearby towns to find a place to stay.
A Wine Moments opportunity
Take advantage of the many wine tastings during the Fair and its location in wine-centered Langhe to participate in the Wine Moments photo contest!