There are few more enticing destinations for gourmet travelers than Alba, a picturesque town in the heart of Piedmont that’s renowned world-wide for its succulent white truffles, velvety red Barolo and Barbaresco wines and wonderful fruit. The town may have only 30,000 residents, but here you can find some of northern Italy’s best restaurants. Alba absolutely deserves its reputation as the jewel of the Langhe and as one of the world’s finest food-and-wine hotspots.
Settled in pre-Roman times by Celtic and Ligurian tribes, Alba’s history is dizzyingly long. Since the settlement sat along a Roman road heading to nearby Turin, Alba soon became a proper town, although these days the only evidence of Rome’s intervention is in a few city gates and in the slabs of marble used on later buildings. In later years, it was at the center of a never-ending tug of war that saw it (like much of the surrounding area) pass from the Burgundians to the Lombards, Franks, and among various noble families of the region. Eventually Alba, like Torino, was handed over to the family of Savoy, where it remained until the unification of Italy.
Alba itself is a lovely town with castles, medieval palaces and towers, and many churches. Stroll alongside the Tanaro River, which slices through town, or along the Via Vittorio Emanuele, known for its delicatessen shops. Just outside of town you’ll find an endless array of interesting places to visit. For wine lovers, the mythical hamlets of Barolo, Barbaresco and La Morra are a must. To the west is the town of Pollenzo, whose castle was once a royal hunting retreat and Bra, where the “Slow Food” headquarters are located. East lies Roero, a site of Roman ruins. To the south, you can visit the Grinzane Cavour castle, or the palace and wineries in Verduno. No matter where you go, you’ll pass rolling vineyards and the small family estates that characterize winemaking in the hilly Langhe region.