The Piedmontese white truffle, Tartufo Bianco d’Alba (tuber magnatum pico) is synonymous with Alba, thanks to the Alba Fiera Internazionale del Tartufo, first held in 1929, which put Piedmontese white truffles on the modern map for gourmets and connoisseurs of exotic delicacies.
Whereas white truffles can be found in other parts of Italy also Slovenia and Croatia, truffle experts consider the Piedmont truffles to be the finest in both the aroma and texture.
Piedmont’s prized white truffles come from not just the hills around Alba, but also a larger area of central Piedmont roughly enclosed by the Po River to the North and the Bormida & Tanaro Rivers to the south. This zone lies entirely in the Monferrato and Langhe hills, which are famous for Piedmont’s red wines and countless wonderful trattorie and osterie prized by food and wine lovers. The zone is bounded by the cities of Casale Monferrato, Chieri, Mondovi and Acqui Terme, with Alba and Asti in the centre.
Many visitors to Piedmont may not realize is that although the Alba Truffle Fair is the oldest and largest, there are around 40 smaller truffle festivals throughout the zone in the autumn months, many of them incorporating a local harvest festival. The atmosphere and pungency of truffles in these smaller festivals is a real local experience, and except for some of the larger and long-established ones, not touristy at all (and when I say tourists, I mean city-folks from Turin and Milan who head for the “zone” on weekends in droves). The small festivals feature prizes to the local trifalau (probably to encourage them to display their biggest and best truffles), giving you a chance to meet with these normally taciturn truffle hunters.
Its almost autumn in Piedmont and this year promises to be a good year for the prized “Tuber magnatum pico” as we have had a wet and cool August with a balmy September so far.
If you are coming to Piedmont in autumn, here is a list of 2010 Truffle festivals in the provinces of Asti (AT), Cuneo (CN), Alessandria (AL).
Festivals* starred are major Truffle Fairs (Fiere Nazionali) or Giornata del Tartufo, which indicate a big local festival day in which truffles are part of the whole event.
Oct 9 to Nov 14th, every weekend Alba* (CN) International Truffle Fair
Oct 3 Montigliole Monferrato (AT); Scurzolengo (AT); Odalengo Piccolo (AL
Oct 10 Montigliole Monferrato (AT); Bergamasco (AL); Castagnole Monferrato* (AT) Vendemmia del Nonno (AT)
Oct 17 Mombercelli (AT); Tagliole Monferrato* (AL) Sapori d’Autonno
Oct 24 Moncalvo* (AT) :
Oct 31 Moncalvo* (AT);Incisa Scapaccino (AT); Trisobbio (AL); Brignano Frascata (AL); Sardigliano (AL); Bene Vagienna (CN); Mondovi* – Peccati di Gola
Nov 7 Montechiaro* (AT); Nizza Monferrato* (AT) del Barbera & Cardo Gobbo; San Damiano d'Asti(AT); Cella Monte (AL); Avolasca (AL); Serralunga di Crea (AL)
Nov 13 Tortona (AL)
Nov 14 Canelli* (AT); Costigliole d'Asti (AT); Alessandria* (AL) Fiera di San Baudilino; Avolasca (AL);Paroldo* (CN) Fiera dell’Alta Langhe e del Cebano;Murisengo* (AL) Fiera Trifola d’Or.
Nov 21 Asti (AT) Cucina e Cantina*; San Sebastiano Curone* (AL); Murisengo* (AL) Fiera Trifola d’Or
Nov 27 Tortona (AL)
Nov 28 Castelnuovo Don Bosco (AT); Casale Monferrato* (AL) Fiera Crumini; Acqui Terme* (AL); Montegrosso d’Asti; Ottiglio (AL); Vezza d’Alba* (CN) Dei vini Roero; Villafranca d'Asti (AT)
Dec 5 Cortazzone (AT); Santo Stephano Belbo (CN).
Happy truffle hunting and buon appetito