Alba Italy – your inside scoop on one of the best small towns in Piedmont Italy!
The Piedmont region is a haven of gastronomic treasures, from wine to cheese to hazelnuts, and more. Alba is easily one of the best small towns in Piedmont Italy. Get to know the city and its offerings.
Alba Italy: The Quick Facts
- Population: 32,000
- Find it: Southwestern, Italy; 50 km / 32 miles from Turin, to the right side of the Tanaro River.
- Getting there: Alba, Italy is accessible by train, bus, and car; nearby airports include Torino Caselle, Milano Malpensa, Milano Linate, Milano Bergamo, Genova Cristofer Colombo.
- Industries: Ferrero confectionery industry (maker of Nutella, TicTak, Ferrero Roche), Società San Paolo publishing house, Migrolio textiles, traditional agriculture, wine (290 wineries cultivate 700 hectares / 1,700 acres of land, producing an annual average of 61,200 hL of wine)
- Top Attractions: Alba White Truffle Fair (October to November annually), Vinum Spring Wine Festival, Alba White Truffles, Barbaresco and Barolo wine tours and experiences
About Alba Italy
By population, the city itself ranks below the top 10 Piedmont region cities. But for gastronomic and cultural, it is one of the best small towns in Piedmont Italy.
Sitting almost perfectly between the Piedmont wine region’s renowned Barolo and Barbaresco areas, Alba’s other acclaim comes from the fabled Alba white truffle and the annual fall festival of the same name.
Wines labeled Barolo and Barbaresco DOCG (100% nebbiolo) are the most well-known in the Piedmont region. But they only make up about 3% of the region’s total wine production.
Things to do in Alba Italy
The Alba White Truffle Fair
Fall is high season in Alba Italy – something that surprises many. The reason is the decadent Alba white truffle, which can be hunted starting in late September. Alba’s white truffle is another reason this is one of the best small towns in Piedmont Italy.
Festivities leading up to the annual Alba White Truffle Festival start in September, with the Festa del Vino, the Donkey Palio, and more. But, the market is the Alba White Truffle Festival’s biggest draw. It is the largest international truffle exhibition in the world – not too shabby for little old Alba. In addition to white and black truffles, you will find regional specialties like hazelnuts, cheese, salumi, wine, and more. The fair runs every weekend from the first week of October through late November.
Explore Ancient Alba
The ancient city of Alba predates Roman times with ruins visible all throughout its charming, walkable historic center. Some two meters below the city streets, visitors to Alba Italy explore lost pieces of its 2000-year history on the city’s Underground Alba tour. The experience takes place at set times during the week, in English and Italian, with different ruins highlighted.
Barbaresco and Barolo wine tours
The Barbaresco and Barolo wine connection makes Alba one of the best small towns in Piedmont Italy. In the city itself, you can hit some of the enotecas, wine shops, and wine bars. Hire a Barolo wine tour guide (like us!) for city-based education as well as touring in the vineyards and at the wineries themselves.
Alba Wine Festivals
Each year, there are a series of annual Alba wine festivals for sipping and swirling. Buy your souvenir wine glass and pouch, then taste away!
- Alba’s Festa del Vino: Takes place the last weekend of September. All municipalities are on hand to showcase Langhe and Roero wines. Wine lovers and curiosity seekers meander from Piazza Risorgimento along Via Maestra to Piazza Michele Ferrero with a chance to taste some 700+ labels. Purchase a wine glass to taste and compare the wines on parade.
- Vinum: Takes place late April / early May. A favorite area wine festival featuring wines from all over the Piedmont region with street food, a kid area, and more. Prices start at 10 euros for four tastings (includes a souvenir wine glass and a wine pouch).
Alba Italy: The home of Nutella
While Alba is best known for its place in the world’s wine trade, it also gets notoriety as the headquarters of Ferrero, the maker of Nutella. Public visits to the Ferrero plant, just outside the historic center, are strictly prohibited, but you can taste Nutella and other artisan hazelnut products all over town.
Insider Tip: Piedmont is the world’s largest producer of hazelnuts, with the Langhe responsible for a third of that production. We know, everyone loves Nutella, but give the local gianduja spread a try. It’s an elegant, sweet chocolate cream with about 30 percent hazelnut paste, invented in Turin during Napoleon’s reign.
A quaint pedestrian street dotted with high-end and local shops as well as wine-ing and dining options in the center connects the city’s two main piazzas: Piazza Michele Ferrero (formerly Piazza Savona) and Piazza Risorgimento (often referred to by the locals as Piazza del Duomo).
Open-air Alba Market:
Alba’s two main market days are Thursday and Saturday from about 8 to 13:00.
- Alba Fruit and Veg Market: Located in Piazza Marconi, after via Cavour and past Piazza San Francesco on the right side, find the largest part of the market, under the covered canopy. Here are all the fruit and vegetable stands as well as local cheese, meats, and honey. Sprinkled outside the covered space are refrigerated traveling stalls, like rotisserie carts, fishmongers, fresh pasta, and more. Open Thursday and Saturday.
- Mercato della Terra: Located in Piazza Pertinace, find about 20 producers from Alba and surrounding areas. These stands are producers following the Slow Food philosophy of proper, clean, and fair principles. The stands are stocked with cheese, wine, preserves, baked goods, honey, fresh fruits and vegetables, cold cuts, meats, hazelnuts, and more.
Practicals / Necessities:
- Presto Fresco: Via Roma 6, Alba. Smaller grocer in the historic center, just off Piazza Michele Ferrero.
- Mercato Local Alba: Via Beppe Fenoglio, 1. Larger grocery store; find most everything you need.
- Wine Shop:
- Enoteca Voglia di Vino: Via Pertinace 3B. Always one of my favorite places to pickup a bottle. Matteo won’t steer you wrong!
- Fracchia: Via Vernazza, 9, Alba.
- Macelleria Guido: Via Cavour, 15, Alba.
- Macelleria del Corso: Corso Langhe, 14, Alba.
- Fish: Pescheria del Molo, Corso Langhe, 33H, Alba.
- Dry Cleaning: Lavanderia Adriana, Via Cavour, 16, Alba.
Where to Stay in Alba Italy
Alba Italy is reachable by car, bus, and the city’s central train station. Most connections come from the Torino Porta Susa or Torino Porta Nuova stations. The city offers tons of amenities, dining, and lodging that are walkable – reason # 752 Alba is one of the best small towns in Piedmont Italy.
For area wine explorers, Alba makes an ideal home base to explore the Southwestern Piedmont wine regions of Barolo, Barbaresco, the Roero, and the Monferrato, particularly if you don’t want to rent a car as the city has tons of great amenities, lots of restaurants, and lodging options.
For a complete review of where to stay in Barolo wine country and Alba, click here (geography, practicalities, and functionality).
My recommended Alba hotels:
- Locanda Voglia di Vino: Stylish rooms in Alba’s historic center.
- Rivetto Suites: The historic, family-owned Rivetto winery from Barolo offers stylish apartments in the historic center with gated parking and a Tesla charging station.
- Hotel Langhe: About 1.5 km / 1 mile from the historic center. Nice rooms, pool, and tennis court.
Alba Italy Dining: Where to eat, drink, and be merry
Here are a few favorites – links to full area dining guides below.
- 100 Vini / Brasilera: Our favorite morning coffee stop in Piazza Michele Ferrero and they do an excellent job with aperitivo late day.
- Cafe Teatro: Always a top choice for good coffee and yum pastries.
- Voglia di Vino – restaurant and enoteca (Alba): We work with Luca and Daniela on everything from aperitivo experiences to more involved wine tasting programs at their wine shop near the restaurant. Stay tuned for special offers and wine shop discounts.
- Ape Wine Bar (Alba): Always a favorite stop with clients for a fun meal or aperitivo. The food is delish and the staff is fantastic. But, the unsung hero of Ape Wine Bar Alba is the amazing manager, Vanessa. In addition to her focus on top-notch hospitality, her wine pairings are spot on.
- Cafe Umberto / Cafe Umberto: The foie gras burger is everything. And, the wine director Mauro knows just what to pair with anything.
Check out our area dining guides:
Where my foodies at!?
Don’t miss Ristorante Piazza Duomo, Piedmont’s only 3-Michelin star ristorante – consistently ranked among the top 25 restaurants worldwide. Reservations open four months in advance and book up right away.
And, there you have it. A guide to Alba Italy – one of the best small towns in Piedmont Italy.
If you make it our way, drop us a note for a Barolo wine tour and experience, lodging recommendations, or just an aperitivo!
More Piedmont Travel resources:
- Where to Stay in Barolo Wine Country
- When to visit Piedmont? Let’s review.
- Barolo wine tour planning tips
- Barbaresco and Barolo wine tastings without appointments
- Insider’s Guide to Alba, Italy Restaurants
- Insider’s Guide to Barbaresco and Barolo Restaurants
- How to get to Alba, Italy: Planes, Trains, Automobiles
- How to do a Barolo day-trip from Turin