It’s that time of the year in Piemonte when the king of truffles, the white truffle is celebrated.
The season starts in October and celebrations take place over Piemonte where the white truffle or trifola d’ Alba Madonna is found. The most famous celebration is Alba’s White Truffle Fair which started on October 10th and continues to November 15.
The fair takes place in the Cortile della Maddalena just off Alba’s main street, Via Vittorio Emanuele II .
As you enter the market, the perfume of truffles fills the air. It’s intoxicating. Truffle sellers take centre stage with their stalls in the centre of the hall. Here you can see, touch, smell truffles of all shapes and sizes. Chat to the truffle sellers…most are truffle hunters (trifolao) and characters to boot! This is your chance to learn about truffles.
What is a truffle
Truffles are the fruiting bodies (sporocaps) of funghi. They are spherical in shape with a pale yellow outer layer the an inner layer of flesh that varies in colour from white to pink and brown. Black truffles are found from May to February while the important white truffle is hunted in Piemonte from Sept 21st to the end of January.
They must live in a symbiotic relationship with trees or bushes for the sporocaps to be produced. Oak forests in the area are a perfect place to find truffles .
Truffle dogs sniff out the truffles and the trifolao or truffle hunter will then carefully dig around the truffle and remove it from the ground.
The white truffle is expensive, far more more expensive than the black. They are sold by weight. On restaurant menus in Piemonte truffles will be an additional supplement. You will be told the price and the truffle weighed before and after being shaved.
Surrounding the truffle stands, are a multitude of stands promoting the fabulous food and wine of the area.
Piedmont’s artisanal producers are well known. This is the home of the slow food movement that promotes locally grown and produced food. Producers offer cheese, pasta, cured meats, hazelnuts, torrone and of the course the famous wines of the Langhe and Roero.
During fair time there’s also cooking demonstrations with some of the regions best chefs, wine tasting experiences and truffle workshops where you can learn all about the truffle. There’s also cooking classes for kids.
The local market takes place every Saturday and during the fair, there’s a special event held in the town every Sunday. The weekend we were there they were setting up for a medieval fair on the Sunday
The truffle fair takes place every weekend until November 15 from 9am – 8pm.
The entrance fee is 3Euro.
Fair days are busy so it is advisable to arrive early especially for ease of parking. .
Half a day at the fair is all that is needed unless you’d like to join some of the events. We arrived early and had finished seeing everything in time to go to lunch.
If you go at the start of the fair, in October, you may also catch the end of the grape harvest with the leaves of the vines starting to show their autumn colours. It’s busy tourist wise and the well known restaurants should be booked in advance. By November, it’s colder and tourist numbers have decreased but there are more truffles.
For more information about the truffle fair see www.fieradeltartufo.org
Other posts on Piemonte that you may enjoy:
Monforte d’Alba: 5 reasons to love this Italian town
Imagine Living in Monforte d’ Alba
Acqui Terme: Piedmont’s Spa Town
My Favourite Restaurant in Piemonte -Alle’Enoteca