Alba: White Truffles, Wines, and Nutella in the shadows of the 100 Towers
22 November 2016
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Do you want to discover panoramic Alba starting from its medieval centre and to contemplate the vineyard hills of Langhe and Roero from the top of its legendary 100 towers (today actually about ten inside the ancient city walls)? Or do you prefer an inverse perspective through 2000 years of history in the company of valorous archaeologists in the meanders of underground Alba?
Welcome to Alba, the lively worldwide capital of the white truffle, with headquarters at the Centro Nazionale Studi Tartufo [National centre for truffle studies]. The strong oenological and gastronomical identity of the ancient Alba Pompeia unveils its character until 27 November at the annual International White Truffle Fair of Alba and the parallel Alba White Truffle World Market. From the Cortile della Maddalena to Piazza Risorgimento, and among the narrow red-cobbled streets of the central pedestrian area, Alba welcomes tuber enthusiasts from around the world. Truffles, here, are a way of life that also includes the dogs used in searching for them. For the dogs, nearby Roddi founded a special University. The cutting edge of an outstanding oenological and gastronomical culture, the truffle shines in the shop windows and on the tables in the exquisite company of cult products: from tome (cheese) to tasty Alba beef tartare, capon or rabbit, cardoon of Nizza Monferrato or Jerusalem artichoke and a wine list of sumptuous reds such as Barolo, Barbaresco, Nebbiolo, Dolcetto and Barbera, not to mention elegant whites such as Roero Arneis DOCG.
A stroll through Alba becomes a sweet and savoury itinerary with so many restaurants, pastry shops, grappa shops and typical shops and an obligatory stop at the Michelin 3-star Piazza Duomo Alba of Enrico Crippa, on the square which is also surrounded by the cathedral of St Laurence and the city hall. The museum home of Beppe Fenoglio – seat of the study centre dedicated to the writer – is just a few steps away. It offers a moving voyage through Italian history and culture of the twentieth century amidst mementos, documents and original photographs. Proceeding along the main street, named for the king Victor Emmanuel, the uncompleted façade of the church of St Magdalene conserves a small but precious baroque treasure inside, with a marvellous wooden choir. Today, the space is used for exhibitions of well-known international artists.
A tasty pilgrimage for enthusiasts of Nutella and art awaits visitors at the city gates, where the Fondazione Ferrero hosts FuturBalla until 28 February 2017, with this extraordinary show to honour the protagonist of the Italian and international art scenes. Last but not least, leaving the town behind, stop when you reach the hamlet of Santa Rosalia d’Alba to admire the unique scenario of the hills and Alpine background while comfortably seated among the vineyards and olive orchards, on the very original and oversized Hot Pink Big Bench, a contribution of Chris Bangle, an American designer and artist transplanted to the land of Langa.
The deconsecrated chapel of Our Lady of Grace (now also known as the Barolo chapel) at La Morra in the Brunate locality is a landmark on the horizon in every season. The interventions of Sol LeWitt and David Tremlett have transformed it into a location for contemporary art.