1. Where to Stay
Hotel Savona (from 67 euros) is steps from the Mercato del Tartufo Bianco d’Alba, a market with hundreds of kilos of truffles under one tent. Bargain room rates and proximity to the main drag, Via Vittorio Emanuelle, offset the cheesy interiors.
Two friendly sisters run the B&B-ish Casa Pavese Hotel (from 140 euros), near the Grinzane Cavour castle. (Visit the enoteca there.) Request a room with a whirlpool and vineyard views.
The Hotel Le Torri (from 84 euros) has eight rooms, six of which offer views of the surrounding hills. Down the road is the Ceretto Winery — home of a controversial glass box structure that is a monument to Barolo and the founding brothers’ answer to I.M. Pei’s pyramid at the Louvre.
What was once a seventeenth-century monastery is now the Relais San Maurizio (from 160 euros); you’ll stay in a repurposed cell. Most suites have open fireplaces, and the pool overlooks vineyards. In the Vinothérapie Spa, get a rubdown with grape extracts and red-vine oils.
2. Where to Eat
Piemontese comfort food is fonduta, tarajin, and risotto. With truffles, it’s food porn. Choose a truffle with a piercing aroma and firm texture; about 60 grams serves two people. Eat one in the cavelike Guido da Costigliole beneath the Relais San Maurizio. At Le Torri (0173-62849) former Le Madri chef Bruna Alessandria makes the best pasta and risotto, paired with a stellar wine list. L’Osteria del Vignaiolo (Regione Santa Maria 12; 0173-50335) has a rustic atmosphere and flan di porri (leek pudding). Visiting American wine importers dine at Trattoria della Posta in Monforte d’Alba for the salt-cooked vitello and hand-chopped carne crude.
3. What to Do
On the road between Alba and Asti is the organic-food cooperative Cascina del Cornale. The inventory rivals the best-stocked specialty stores in New York; here, you can buy exquisite pear eau de vie or vinegar from heirloom trees. Reserve a table for lunch. The tasting menu (29 euros) comprises ingredients from the co-op’s suppliers. If you see truffles on the table, a co-op member was recently out foraging.
4. Insider’s Tip
Traditional Barolo wine is a dying breed but exquisite stuff. Think pressed rose petals, suede, and a touch of white truffle. Order the best you can afford with at least ten years of age from any of these producers: Giuseppe Rinaldi, Bartolo or Giuseppe Mascarello, Bruno Giacosa, Teobaldo Cappellano, or Livia Fontana. Cutting costs? Look for 2002 Nebbiolo, most likely declassified Barolo.
5. An Oddball Day
The Unione delle Associazioni Trifulau Piemontesi (the trade group for truffle hunters, known as trifulau) runs a daylong workshop on truffles. Learn about the prized subterranean ‘shrooms, walk around in the woods, and witness a dog go crazy upon discovering a truffle that was likely planted there for your benefit (10 euros for the search, 55 euros with dinner). Reserve ahead.
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