Alba International White Truffle Fair

The truffle season runs from October to mid-November, when the vineyards of Langa are a kaleidoscope of many colours, ranging from red to yellow, and from orange to brown and coincides with the harvest period. Among the narrow streets of the small Langa hamlets, spreads an intense aroma of must, truffles, and excellent home cooking, creating a unique atmosphere, full of anticipation and expectation. And this is the time of the trifule picking, tartufi in the Piedmontese dialect and truffles in English, which are celebrated at the Alba International White Truffle Fair which now, after more than 80 editions, takes over the lives and all the major events of the city of Alba.


In fact, inside the Maddalena Courtyard, stands are set up where the best truffles are displayed, evaluated and sold to the many tourists who flock here, sometimes driven by simple curiosity or just to inhale their intense fragrances. There is also the opportunity to launch into real negotiations to buy the truffles with the trifulao, the men who hunt for truffles and display the “fragrant nuggets” on their stalls.
Everything started with Giacomo Morra, (1889 – 1963), a skilled trader, good restaurateur but who was famous mostly as events creator. Indeed, he was responsible for the brilliant idea to create an event related to the white truffle of Alba. It was Morra who promoted the white truffle of Alba in Italy and around the world, underlining that it is one of the best in terms of taste and is an original product of the Langhe region. He wanted to make the truffle a real ambassador for Alba around the world, a brand instantly recognizable as gastronomic excellence of a specific territory.

Since the 1920s, in Alba, there have been harvesting fairs, related to the sale of the grapes, which, were exhibited on carts, and occupied the ancient face of Piazza Savona, today the parlour of the city. Giacomo Morra thought to include within this annual event an exhibition of the valuable local truffles, starting with the Fair of 1928. In 1929, included in the celebrations of the harvest festival, the “Fiera mostra campionaria a premi dei rinomati Tartufi delle Langhe” was organized, a fair featuring awards dedicated to the renowned truffles of Langhe. This event attracted the attention of the local press first, then the Italian press and finally the international press.
Late autumn was the period chosen in order to seize the moment when the precious fungus develops the maximum of aroma and flavour. Mr Morra also invented the prestigious award “Truffle Of The Year”, which, since 1929, is given to important personalities who have distinguished themselves in the field of culture, entertainment, politics or sports. This idea comes from the agricultural tradition of the farmers of Langhe and Roero, who, during an important feast period (generally Christmas or the end of the agricultural harvest), used to give and pay homage, with a truffle, various authorities or professionals in their village. Giacomo Morra understood that in this way it was possible to draw even more attention to the nascent Truffle Fair and those who received this important and valuable prize would also become ambassadors of Alba and its products worldwide. Among the previous winners are Sir Winston Churchill (1948), Rita Hayworth (1949), former US president Harry Truman (1951), the first President of the Italian Republic Luigi Einaudi (1952), the actress Marilyn Monroe (1954), Nikita Khrushchev (1959), His Holiness John Paul II (1978), the actor Alberto Sordi (1984), the tenor Luciano Pavarotti (1990), Prince Albert of Monaco (1998), the Italian former soccer player and manager Marcello Lippi (1997 and 2006) and the actress Penelope Cruz (2011).

To Alba and its hills, the Fair represents the event of the year. From the first weekend of October, every day, the city centre is livened up with a different event, exhibition, commemoration, concert, or performance. Entering the stands, where the several trifulao proudly show their truffles, after a long search together with their dogs in the dark and wet nights at the end of the summer, is a truly unique experience: already at the entrance, the smell of truffles tells the visitors what they will be able to see and, why not, taste inside. Always within the Fair, there is a counter where it is possible to meet experts and judges who can provide a sensory analysis in order to be sure that what you have purchased is a real truffle “made in Langa”, complete with a warranty certificate!

It is not a coincidence that in Alba, in 1996, the National Centre for Truffle Studies was created, an institution unique in the world specializing in the research and popularization of the truffle culture. Here there is the study of scents, new conservation techniques, gastronomic experiences of dishes made with truffles, and tasting seminars are organized. Over a hundred sensory analysis judges act on the markets and in special commissions of certification to ensure the absolute quality of the product: the Alba White Truffle Market is the only one that is guaranteed, with a careful analysis of each example, for health and type of marketed product.

The calendar of events in the city is capable of satisfying every palate and every target, from children to adults, ranging in countless events and side events.

Among these, the most important event, awaited by Alba’s citizens and tourists, is certainly the Donkey Race, which takes place in the centre of Alba on the first Sunday of October, thus marking the real beginning of the Fair. It is a unique and characteristic palio, as it is named in Italian, of its kind that was created, so legend has it, by Giacomo Morra and Pinot Gallizio (eclectic personality and artist), to avenge the insult suffered by the people of Alba made by those of Asti. The latter had run their famous palio on the day of the patron saint of Alba, August 10th, outside the walls of the city of Alba, besieged by them. Therefore, the palio is a prank, if it can be defined in this way, but it is surely a success if it is run by donkeys which, with their unpredictability, do not covet the finish line as much as their riders do. This race also represents a real challenge between the quarters of Alba that dispute the coveted prize, a cloth designed and created every year by a different artist. In addition, the palio is always preceded by a beautiful medieval parade that involves all the areas of the city with over one thousand participants, evoking ancient moments of the history of the city of Alba.

Other memorable moments, for anyone arriving in Alba during October, are the Truffle Bacchanal, where the village returns to the Middle Ages by giving life and sense to the Middle Age period with tastings of traditional products and the Flag Festival where the most skilled flag-wavers of the different villages compete in a true display of skill and colours of their flags.

We are waiting for you! You cannot miss all of this!