THE IN­SID­ERS ALBA, ITALY

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Travel & Indulgence - SI­MON TAN­CRED

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.

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