Lovely old Alba retains a medieval flavor that's as mellow as the wines it produces. It's a pleasure to walk along the Via Vittorio Emanuele and the narrow streets of the Old Town, visit the 14th-century Duomo, and peer into shop windows with lavish displays of Alba's wines; its other famous product, truffles; and its less noble, but enticing, nocciola, a decadent concoction of nuts and chocolate.
By Train -- Only one direct train (in the evening, after 6pm) runs between Turin and Alba (1 hr.); otherwise, there's one per hour requiring a change either in Brà or Cavallarmaggiore (1 1/4-2 hr.). There are 11 trains daily between Alba and Asti (30-60 min.).
By Bus -- Alba's Autostazione bus terminal (tel. 0175-478-811; www.atibus.it) is on Piazza Medford. Hourly Satti (tel. 800-019-152; www.satti.it) buses make the trip between Alba and Turin in about 1 1/2 hours. Giachino (tel. 011-226-3190; www.giachino.it) makes the hour-long trip to and from Asti, about once per hour.
By Car -- The most direct way to reach Alba from Turin is to follow Autostrada A6 for 35km (22 miles) south to the exit near Brà, and from the autostrada exit S231, go east for 24km (15 miles) to Alba. If you want to work Alba into a trip to Asti, take A21 to Asti and, from there, follow S231 southwest for 30km (19 miles) to Alba.
Alba has two tourist offices. The downtown branch, halfway along Corso Vittorio Emanuele at no. 19 (tel./fax 0173-362-562; www.comune.alba.cn.it), is open daily from 9am to 6:30pm (may close Sun in winter). A regional info office, at Piazza Medford 3, across from the bus station (tel. 0173-35-833 or 0173-362-807; fax 0173-363-878; www.langheroero.it), is open Monday through Friday from 9am to 12:30pm and 2:30 to 6:30pm, Saturday from 9am to 12:30pm (afternoons, too, in Oct).
Festivals & Markets
October is Alba's big month. Its annual truffle festival is held the first week, and this, in turn, climaxes in the Palio degli Asini (Race of the Asses; tel. 0173-362-806), a humble version of neighboring Asti's equine Palio. On Saturday and Sunday mornings from the second weekend in October through December, Alba hosts a truffle market, where you may well be tempted to part with your hard-earned cash for one of the fragrant specimens (which could cost as much as 770€ per lb.).
Exploring the Town
Alba's two major sights face the brick expanse of Piazza Risorgimento, at the northern end of its major thoroughfare, Corso Vittorio Emanuele. The 14th-century brick Duomo is flanked by a 13th-century bell tower. Most of the interior and paintings hail from the late 19th century, save the two late baroque lateral chapels and the elaborately carved and inlaid choir stalls from 1512.
The town's two art treasures hang in the council chamber of the Palazzo Comunale across the square (go through the door on the right and up to the top of the stairs) -- an early-16th-century portrait of the Virgin by Alba's greatest painter, Macrino d'Alba, and Concertino, by Mattia Preti, a follower of Caravaggio. It's open only during city office hours, Tuesday through Friday from 8:15am to 12:15pm, Saturday from 8:15am to noon.
From here, stroll the shopping promenade Corso Vittorio a few blocks to enjoy the low-key pace in the traffic-free heart of the town.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.