When taking a minute to drive the hillside roads of the Langhe coming in to the town of Alba Italy, you can see from many vistas along the way, many of the medieval towers that are still standing today. The city of Alba once known as the City of a hundred medieval Towers. These Towers were built in the 14th and 15th centuries and many of them have been ruined in wars and one in particular was during the attacks of the Barbarians after the fall of the Western Empire. The city of Alba is now a part of the UNESCO world Heritage and is considered to be the center for the Barolo and Barbaresco vineyards making it the central meeting point for many wonderful things. Here in Alba you will find the famous White Truffle and once a year during the month of October they host a festival for all things truffle and Alba related. During this gastronomic festival you can take place at the White truffle auction where the largest White truffle that has been found around the Langhe area will be auctioned off and normally at a very high price. One other thing not to miss at this festival is the Palio. This race had originated in Medieval times in Siena and has since then made its way to the Asti area. In Asti this race takes place on the third Sunday in September. Alba does things a bit different and uses some Piemontese humor while doing so. The difference is in Alba they don't have horses they have Donkeys. Not an animal uncommon to the Langa, but makes a whole lot of fun seeing these guys in a race.
Another wonderful thing about Alba is this is the birthplace of Nutella, the creamy chocolate and hazelnut spread that has made so many childhood memories. Could also be a nice little treat for adults, too. I know there is always a jar of Nutella in my cabinets at home. Here in Alba is the Ferrero factory where over 10.000 employees work around the clock to make sure those wonderful little chocolate hazelnut treats get shipped all over the world. What is wonderful about having the Ferrero factory located in the center of Alba is that about 4 times a week they toast chocolate and that they have to toast so much of it that walking around Alba center you are engulfed with this wonderful chocolaty smell. It tends to make me a bit hungry.
On Saturday mornings in Alba (Ferrero will be toasting away lots of chocolate) and in the center of the City there will be their weekly farmers market. This market takes place on the two main streets Via Maestra and Via Cavour and will also be located in a few different Piazzas: Piazza Savona, Piazza Duomo, Piazza San Giovanni, and the Piazza where the market is located more frequently throughout the week (Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday) is Piazze Senatore Ovaldo Cagnasso. On Saturday the Piazza where I recommend not missing is the Piazza Pertinace: here they have the Mercato di Terra where there are many wonderful local, organic producers from this area and whom have the best quality products by far. Need some hazelnuts, I recommend going there.
Now we will shift gears to some other fun things to see and do in Alba.
Places to eat!
Piazza Duomo This is a 3 Michelin starred restaurant and is well deserved. In 2016 Chef Enrico Crippa received from the guide The Word’s 50 Best Restaurants received number 17. Not too bad, if I do say so myself. I highly recommend making a reservation for this restaurant if you wish to visit. You can contact them for either lunch or dinner bookings from their website.
Osteria dell’Arco is one of the sister restaurants a part of Slow Food. Here you will eat very good typical Piemontese food. Things not to miss are the Carne Cruda, and the Tajarin with 40 egg yolks. They are typically closed on Sunday and I recommend making a reservation. You can contact them from their website.
Gusto Madre If pizza is what you are craving then I recommend taking a stop here. It is not your everyday pizza experience when you eat at Gusto Madre. Here I recommend getting one of their tasting menu’s so you can try their different takes on their pizza’s. Take not that is not easy to get a reservation here as they are super booked but with some advanced planning it can be made possible. They are closed on Sunday lunch and all day Tuesday, for booking please see their website.
Bove’s here is where the American comes out in me. If you are having a withdrawal from a great Hamburger don’t worry I’ve got you covered. Boves started as a butcher in it’s first life then realized that they understand meat probably more than the average person and decided to reinvent themselves with hip cocktails and a meat based menu. Another place I reccemend making a reservation here’s the link.
Osteria del Vicoletto is a nice quite traditional place that won’t break the bank. The kitchen is simple and delicious. They are located on Via Barter 6 - Alba, Italy and are only open for dinner. You can make a reservation by phone at +39 (0)173 363196.
Things to do and see:
A walk down Via Maestra - Alba, a pedestrian street only where there are many wonderful caffe’s, gelataria, and specialty stores. If you would like to get some local products or a special bottle of wine you will be able to pretty much find everything Piemontese you are looking for.
Duomo di Alba, Cattedrale di San Lorenzo the original structure was to been built in the 5th century and then rebuilt a few times after in the following centuries. When you visit this Catthedrial you can see the layers of history of the several different constructions.
Underground Alba, to visit the original Alba, the Alba Pompeia. You are able to visit the Underground Alba on Saturday and Sunday by reservation only. Typically it is a tour offered in Italian. You can arrive to Alba Underground at Piazza Risorgimento 2 in front of the Tourist office. Tel:+39 339 7349949
Sitting at a café having a coffee or an aperitivo and watching the people walk by is something to pass some time and is very relaxing.