Piedmont Travel: Alba White Truffle Frequently Asked Questions

If you’ve got Piedmont travel planned, don’t miss a chance to experience the storied Alba white truffle. 

The Alba white truffle is a full sensory experience that goes deeper than just its intoxicating smell and savory, decadent flavor. From truffle hunts to Barbaresco and Barolo wine pairing experiences, cooking classes, and more, get ready for a feast of the senses during your truffle experiences. 

In this piece, I’ve outlined Alba white truffle history, but first, here’s an Alba White Truffle FAQ answering most asked questions that come through the site and from Barolo wine tour guests

Alba White Truffle FAQ: 

Things to know about a white truffle experience in Langhe and Roero: 

  • How long does a truffle hunt last? Truffle hunts run 1.5 to 2 hour at different hours of the day during high season in the fall. Depending on the hunter, the tour can be early to late morning as well as afternoon and evening hunts. Hunts start at a meeting point at an undisclosed location (Alba white truffles are big business here, so people are very secretive about their spots) with a walk through the woods following the hunter and the dog. For hunts with tourists (real and simulated), many hunters bring someone to narrate the experience so the trifulau (truffle hunter) can focus on the hunt and the dog. 
  • Are the hunts done with pigs? In the Piedmont wine region, truffle hunts are done with a dog, not a pig. 
  • What’s the story on simulated truffle hunts? Simulated hunts were created because it’s not always guaranteed a truffle will be found. It is required by law that the hunter disclose if the hunt is or is not simulated. 
  • When is the best time to visit Piedmont for the Alba white truffle? Truffles are more aromatic and flavorful when it is colder – so, the best will be found in late November / December. 
  • How do I dress for a truffle hunt? Recommended dress for a truffle hunt is trekking / hiking shoes, layered clothes, jeans, fleece, down jackets in November, December, January. Remember that this part of the Piedmont region is quite humid.  
  • What about black truffles? Note that black spring and summer truffles are also found here during the noted seasons. Black truffles are more easily found and are available for a longer period, so they are less expensive. Black truffle flavors are earthy notes of chocolate and even red wine, the smell is more dirt or soil and sometimes chocolate. 
  • What does a the white truffle taste like? White truffles have garlic, nutty, elegant flavors. Read about the Truffle Smells.
  • Is there a certain period that Alba white truffles can be hunted? Alba white truffles can be hunted and kept starting on 21 September. If a white truffle is found prior to this date during a hunt, it has to be put back in the ground (catch and release!) 
  • Do I get to keep truffles we find on my truffle hunt? Guests do not get to keep the truffle(s) found during the experience. On rare occasions, the hunter will gift guests with a black truffle, but not a white truffle as they are the most expensive.  
  • Can I purchase a truffle from the hunter after the hunt? Truffles can be purchased from the hunter. I recommend telling the hunter you want to purchase in advance so they can bring a selection. And, again, if it’s a real hunt, it’s not guaranteed that a white truffle will be found. 
  • How do I pay for my truffles after a hunt? Plan to pay with cash for a truffle directly from a hunter after a hunt.
  • What is the story on truffle prices? Truffle prices vary each year, are sold by the gram, and prices are dependent on things like weather conditions and tourism demand. At Alba’s Annual White Truffle Fair, guests can get truffle purchases checked by an official to ensure quality. Note: this is ONLY for truffles purchased inside the fair. 

CLICK TO BOOK your Alba White Truffle Experience!


 

Southwestern Piedmont is also home to the famed Tartufo bianco di Alba, the Alba white truffle

Alba’s famed white truffle has been revered for centuries. In Roman times, it was believed that the truffle’s divine powers included use as an aphrodisiac from the god Jupiter, the King of the gods.

During the Middle Ages and Renaissance periods, the truffle’s classification was well contested with some labeling it a plant, others calling it a ground growth, and some even suggested it was an animal. In 1831, the truffle got its scientific classification from botanist Carlo Vittadini as a part of the Tuber genus.   

DEFINED: THE TRUFFLE

A fruiting body of fungi belonging to the Tuber genus that makes its entire life cycle underground (hypogeum). It must obligatorily live in symbiosis with arboreal plants to produce the precious sporocarp. It is formed by an external wall called peridium, which can be smooth or sculpted and of a variable color from light to dark. The National Center for Truffle Studies

In Piedmont, the white truffle gained notoriety in the 18th century when European high courts dubbed it the highest quality in Europe. By the 1900s, the Alba truffle gained international acclaim thanks to Alba innkeeper and restaurateur Giacomo Morra who famously sent samples of the Alba white truffle to the likes of Winston Churchill, Rita Hayworth, Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe, and even Pope Paul VI. His campaign led to global buzz and led to the 1928 launch of the Alba White Truffle Festival.

Today the Alba White Truffle Fair is now the largest truffle market in the world, running in the city center from October to November each year in the city of Alba. In addition to consuming rich, savory truffle shavings atop traditional foods, paired with nebbiolo (of course!), visitors also take in the ancient truffle hunting practice. 

alba white truffle

The Alba White Truffle Fair 2021

If you are visiting the Piedmont region from October to early December, check out the annual Alba White Truffle Fair. In 2021, it runs Saturdays and Sundays from 8 October to 5 December.

The fair offers programs like sensory workshops, wine tastings, cooking demonstrations, and more. However, the primary draw is the Truffle Market that features truffles for sale as well as other area specialty items.

Please note, to guarantee quality, every truffle sold is checked by a Quality Commission. The service is available to customers throughout the fair at the Consumer Help Desk.

  • Dates: Every Saturday and Sunday, 8 October to 5 December.
  • Hours: 9:30 to 19:30
  • Where: Alba White Truffle Market: Cortile della Maddalena, Alba
  • Contact: Tel.: +39.0173.361051, e-mail: info@fieradeltartufo.org
  • Prices (for advance purchase online, click here):
    • Full ticket: € 4
    • Ticket for groups over 30 people: € 3.50
    • Children up to 15 years: FREE / Disabled: FREE
    • Dogs: FREE entry

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