Going to an autumn Truffle Fair is a gastronomic experience not to be missed.
Alba holds the most famous white truffle fair in Italy, but there are many other smaller fairs celebrating the white truffle, tartufo bianco, held on weekends in late October and November. While fairs are centred on truffle selling, going to a fair is interesting even if you don't want to buy. Fairs often include music, parades or other entertainment, and a local food marketplace. Nothing beats the scent of fresh truffles that permeates the air, and a truffle fair is the perfect place to eat a fabulous meal based on very fresh truffles.
Sant'Angelo in Vado, in central Italy's Le Marche region, holds one of the earliest fairs of the season, usually starting the second weekend of October and lasting throughout the month.
Another good truffle fair in Le Marche starts at the end of October in Acqualagna, known as the truffle capital. Acqualagna also holds a small black truffle fair in February and a summer truffle fair in August.
The relatively unknown Molise region, south of Le Marche, produces a large proportion of Italy's truffles. In 2008, a truffle weighing more than one kilogram was found in Molise, a record topped in 2014 by a truffle weighing almost twice as much found by Sabatino Truffles in central Italy's Umbria region. Several Molise towns hold truffle fairs in early November, including San Pietro Avellana, the ‘home of the white truffle’, also known for its summer truffle festival in August.
In Tuscany, top towns that hold November white truffle fairs are San Miniato and San Giovanni d'Asso, a town that also has an interesting truffle museum, Museo del Tartufo, in the cellar of its fourteenth century castle. Piemonte, in northern Italy, is considered by truffle aficionados to be the top Italian region for truffles.
Near Alba, the Langhe wine region is famous for its prized truffles and makes a fantastic autumn travel destination. Visit the village of Roddi, a truffle hunting centre, to see the outdoor educational display about truffles and truffle hunting. Roddi's castle houses the International Culinary School of the White Truffle of Alba, and there's even a truffle hunting school for dogs, started in the late nineteenth century.
For the ultimate truffle experience, stay at an inn owned by a truffle hunter. At Tra Arte e Querce in the art village of Monchiero, Piemonte, the smell of fresh truffles pervades the rooms and in the morning you can watch as Ezio brings in his truffles to sell and to grate over your fried egg, the perfect way to savour truffles. Guests can also sign up to go along with Ezio on a truffle hunt.
Other recommended places to experience a truffle hunt are Castelfalfi Luxury Resort in Tuscany, through the Sabatino Company in Umbria, and Al Vecchio Convento Albergo Diffuso in the hills of EmiliaRomagna, another region where truffles and truffle fairs are found. Most luxury hotels in these regions can arrange truffle hunts, too.