The Truffle Fair, along with Vinum, is one of the most important events for the city of Alba. It is held in autumn, during the months of October and November, but it is so full of occurrences that many events are organized days before the start of the fair.
Despite the event revolves around the truffle, presented in all its forms, the fair is not just limited to this. There are art exhibitions, theater performances, concerts, markets, historical and folkloristic commemorations, activities for children and much more, which each year attract thousands of visitors from around the world.
The birth of the Fair
The origin of the Truffle Fair in Alba dates back to the 1920s, when, during the 1928 Harvest Fair, Giacomo Morra (1889-1963), introduced an exhibition dedicated to the truffle. The success was such that it was decided to turn it into a permanent exhibition, and at the same time a contest was established to reward the best tubers.
The following year the first “Exhibition-competition Fair of the famous Langhe Truffles” was organized. It was called the Truffle Fair in an article published in the Gazzetta d’Alba newspaper on 17 October 1929. The following is an extract from the article:
“The first Exhibition and Truffle Fair will be held in the Cortile della Maddalena on dedicated benches that will be displaying this truly exquisite product with its delicate scent and beauty. The exhibition will no doubt be quite interesting, because of both the quantity and quality of the precious tubers on display and the number of people that will be visiting”.
Since then, the enthusiasm for this event (organized in autumn because it is during this season that the truffle’s aroma and flavor is at its peak) has grown and has soon become a national event (1963).
Over the years, the Fair has become increasingly linked to the surrounding area, offering all the territory’s major products and, in particular, the wine. The history, culture and traditions of local communities also became part of the fair which can now be seen in the form of historical reenactments, folkloristic shows, exhibitions, etc.
And finally in 2007 it became the “International Alba White Truffle Fair”, which today is one of the city’s most important events. An event that not only attracts numerous tourists but is also an international showcase for the Langhe and Monferrato.
The fair is constantly changing and every year there’s a dedicated central theme that offers new opportunities for gatherings and entertainment. However, there are some fixed events that are also the Fair’s main events that cannot be missed.
Investiture of the Podestà (Chief Magistrate)
This medieval reenactment takes place prior to the Fair’s inauguration. During the evening representatives of the villages dressed in period costumes bring their offerings to the Signora d’Alba, the person who represents the city along with the Podestà. The latter’s official investiture follows this cerimony.
La Bela Trifulera
This beauty contest was initially introduced in 1945 when the young people of the committee suggested to invite the villages to bring a beautiful girl to the event amongst which would be chosen the “Queen of the Langhe”.
The contest takes place prior to the Fair’s inauguration, because the winner becomes the Fair’s promotional model for a year and her task is to host subsequent events.
Il Palio degli Asini (The Donkey Derby)
One of the most eagerly awaited events is held on the first Sunday in October. The program is divided into several parts: in the morning the donkeys are assigned to the villages, then in the early afternoon the spectacular medieval parade takes place, followed by the donkey race. The race is also known as Giostra Cento Torri, which took on the name in 1952.
Today the Palio degli Asini marks the opening of the fair, but, according to legend, it was run for the first time in 1275 when Alba and Asti were at war. In fact, after the defeat of Alba, Asti chose to run the derby outside the city walls, as a sign of victory over the enemy.
In turn, the people of Alba organized a counter-derby in the city’s centre, but decided to run with the donkeys to mock their opponents.
The International Truffle Market
The truffle market is the Fair’s main event; the place where everyone can view, touch, smell and buy truffles. All the products on display are checked and guaranteed by a Commission of experts that is available to the public during the fair.
Alongside the truffles, you’ll also find other excellent food and wine products from Piedmont that you can taste and enjoy in the internal restaurant area.
The Truffle Bacchanal
A moment of celebration and culture that all can attend: a commemoration of the everyday life and medieval festivals. For this occasion, the hamlets of Alba organize games which everyone can participate in and prepare dishes that can be tasted, for an evening of entertainment in the past.
Food and Wine Events
And of course there are events dedicated to the culinary traditions of the Langhe such as gatherings with International chefs, tastings of specialties, presentation of theme-related books, debates, wine tasting courses and sensory analysis of truffles.
The program of events, often accessible only by appointment, is changed and enriched each year.
To find out all the events held at the Alba White Truffle International Fair click here (page available only in Italian).
Hunting for Truffles
Finding truffles isn’t easy, only the Trifulau (term for truffle hunters) know how and where to look for them and they’re always guided by their faithful dogs. The only way to discover the hunters’ secrets is to accompany them on a unique excursion.
The Associazione Trifulau Colline di Langa organizes, through bookings, simulated truffle hunts. The excursions take place all year long, weather permitting. To find out more and book your simulated truffle hunt click here.