THE INSIDERS ALBA, ITALY
Hotel Palazzo Finati is a historic townhouse in Alba, located in Piedmont, Cuneo. It has nine individually decorated guestrooms, complete with frescoed ceilings, parquet floors, Persian carpets and antique furniture. Host Paola Fava offers a generous breakfast of local produce in the vaulted dining room; palazzofinati.it. Villa La Meridiana-Casinca Reine is an elegant 18thcentury art nouveau country house overlooking the medieval towers of Alba and the Tanaro River and surrounded by gardens and family vineyards. The villa has four double guestrooms and four self-contained apartments. Join in the grape harvest or a search for truffles in the nearby forests. villalameridianaalba.it.
The art nouveau Pasticceria Cignetti has cafe tables in the shade of Alba’s cathedral and is justly famous for its hazelnut nougat and Barolo and Moscato chocolates (Alba is home of Ferrero chocolates and Nutella); Via Vittorio Emanuele, 5.
Piazza Duomo and La Piola is a single address for two diverse culinary experiences. The bustling La Piola osteria specialises in traditional Albese cuisine such as angel hair pasta with roasting juices and rabbit stew with roasted bell peppers. Upstairs is one of the most celebrated restaurants in Italy, the three Michelinstarred Ristorante Piazza Duomo where chef Enrico Crippa presents innovative cuisine rooted in local history with a touch of the Orient; lapiola-alba.it. Osteria dell’Arco is one of the champions of the Slow Food movement; it’s a charming family-run osteria, tucked away in the arcades of Alba’s busiest piazza and serves classic dishes with a modern twist, such as vitello tonnato, cod salad, risotto with porcini mushrooms and fried Cherasco snails; Piazza Savona, 5.
Caffe Calissano was founded in the late 1800s and carries the name of one of Alba’s most prestigious wine producers. Recently restored, its rooms glisten with gold-leaf stucco, antique mirrors and zinc counters and it offers a range of wine-based aperitivi, white wines and spumante; Piazza Risorgimento, 3.
Known as the “king of truffles”, Giacomo Morra was one of the great promoters of Alba’s produce in the 50s and 60s. Tartufi Morra is a shop that perpetuates his name and legacy; there’s fresh and preserved truffles plus pasta and cheese; tartufimorra.com.
The University for Truffle Dogs was founded in Roddi, a hilltop village 6km south of Alba, in 1880 by (the present “rector) Giovanni Monichiero’s great grandfather. There’s a museum and products on sale and, by appointment, Monichiero escorts visitors on truffle hunts; universitadedeicanidatartufo.it.