We grow up thinking fairytales only exist in Disney movies. That magic doesn’t exist. To this I say you haven’t experienced Italian truffles. What is a truffle you may ask? Are you talking chocolate delights? No, my friends, I am not. Truffles are a regal type of vegetable in the mushroom family. They are the reward to the determined hunters that use trained dogs or pigs (historically) to sniff them out from the ground. There are truffle festivals in other parts of northern or central Italy in the harvest season (October-November) but this International White Truffle Festival is truly the mother of them all and globally renowned as an experience of a lifetime- the epitome of a Foodie Festival. Let’s find out more information and book our tickets ASAP!
September and October are my favorite months in Italy simply due to the fact that that’s when truffle’s are harvested, and devoured. Looking at the irregular and knobby shape of a truffle you wouldn’t really know how special and prized they are – you can pay upwards of several thousand dollars per pound. They develop slowly about a foot underground and in symbiosis with their host trees, either oaks or hazelnuts. For this reason, they are undetectable for us mere humans and we require the all-powerful dog and pig nose. Funny fact? Pigs are a bit more unreliable because once they find the truffles, they tend to have a snack (I suppose I have something in common with pigs).
Why have a festival?
The better question is why not? Since 1928 people have flocked to the small town of Alba to surround themselves with the aromatic delicacy. The first year of the festival was simply the harvest and exhibitions, complete with floats. After the popularity, the event was turned into a full-blown fair with truffle hunting, tastings, selling, and celebration of the vegetable. The International White Truffle Festival has increased with popularity over the past decade with many guests from the United States, but the majority of visitors, approximately 100,000, are from Italy and Europe.
What can I do at the festival?
Other than delight in the tastiest and most incredible smelling ingredient in Italian cooking, there are a ton of adventures to partake in. There is a market in the main square of Alba where you can try and buy local delicacies like cheese, honey, wine, egg pasta, cured meats, etc. The festival starts with nights of concerts, cooking classes, meetings with farmers and producers of local treats, and ends with the famous auction of the season’s best and largest truffles. The two events I am most excited to experience are the donkey races and truffle hunting. The donkey race is for pure entertainment. A donkey represents each district in Alba and the winner receives a prized Palio Cloth. The best news is the animals are cared for with concern and respect. You can also join in a truffle hunt in the neighboring woods with an experienced and knowledgeable guide with his trained dog- laughs and memories to last a lifetime!
When can I start eating?
The International White Truffle Festival 2015 in Alba lasts for 5 successive weekends from October 11- November 15. No weekday events, so plan accordingly.
Alba is a small town in the middle of the Piedmont region in northern Italy, nestled in the foothills of the Alps. Piedmont is famous for of course, truffles, but also the production of the wine king and queen Barolo and Barbera. You will see the most memorable scenery complete with rolling hills that never seem to end and vineyards that will make you want to get in the business of wine production. It is one of my favorite areas of Italy, and Alba is truly one of the most charming towns I’ve visited. You have everything.
Travel duration: 6 hours – one train per hour
Ticket Prize: starts from 85 euros with Trenitalia
Travel duration: 5 hours – one train per hour
Ticket Prize: starts from 55 euros with Trenitalia
Travel duration: 3 hours, one train per hour
Ticket Prize: starts from 25 euros with Trenitalia
Once you arrive in Alba the festival location is just a quick 6-minute walk.
If travelling by an air-conditioned car is more your speed, check out our Travel Planning options to see how we can get you to the festival with a truffle in hand.
We can’t wait to hear about your adventures at one of the biggest foodie events of the year. It’s a bucket list moment to be able to attend this famous festival, so I hope you have the opportunity to take advantage of every adventure in Piedmont. Here is the official website for the event to help you plan your journey. Remember to charge your camera and come hungry!