Alba White Truffle Fair

 

Alba is a small, unassuming town near Cuneo, in the Langhe area of the Piemonte region. Its peculiar climate and the ecology of its surroundings make it perfect for the growth of truffles, the pungent and extremely expensive underground mushrooms. Beside producing the best Italian (and possibly European) truffles, Alba has thus become since ancient times the most important national market for these precious delicacies. It can be safely told that the whole city revolves around truffles, with the Galleria della Maddalena passage being the permanent exchange place for gatherers, gourmets, high-end restaurants from all over the country and abroad.

The International truffle fair is a special occasion held in Alba since 1929 during which the normal, businesslike market puts on a festive face to promote this local resource and entice old and new enthusiasts. Held over several weekends in November, the festival includes several events beside the obvious farmers’ market and high-end exchange (the price for larger and more prized white truffles can easily exceed €2,500 per kilogram). Among them there is a Day of truffle-sniffer dogs, ‘La bela trifolera’ (lit. ‘the beautiful truffle gathering girl’, a beauty contest), a vintage cars show, guided visits to the underground archeological tunnels and halls of the medieval age, glass blowers and, of course, the award for the best truffle of the year.

This is an unusual media event, as the truffle in question is given as a present to a celebrity who goes on stage to accept it. In the past it has gone to Marilyn Monroe, Winston Churchill, Elizabeth II of England, Luciano Pavarotti, Sting and many more.