A once-powerful city-state – its centre sported more than 100 towers – Alba is considered the capital of the Langhe and has big-city confidence and energy while retaining all the grace and warmth of a small rural town. Alba's considerable gastronomic reputation comes courtesy of its white truffles, dark chocolate and wine. Its annual autumn truffle fair draws huge crowds and the odd truffle-mad celebrity (Jay Z, we're looking at you). The vendemmia (grape harvest) remains refreshingly local and low key, if ecstatic in its own way.
The vine-striped Langhe Hills radiate out from the town like a giant undulating vegetable garden, replete with grapes, hazelnut groves and wineries. Exploring Alba's fertile larder on foot or with two wheels is a delicious pleasure.