Alba, in white and red.
The small town set in a bend on the right bank of the Tanaro is definitely far more famous than its size: just over 30,000 inhabitants, a sort of large parlour where everyone knows each other. Alba is one of the Italian cities with the highest quality of life. It is no coincidence, in fact, that the city was awarded the title of UNESCO Creative City for Gastronomy in 2017.
Alba, i.e. a "white city", as its name suggests, co-opted by the Romans from the Ligurian/celtic root alb=water, but so similar to the Latin albus=white (as well as whitened, auspicious, luminous, serene) from which the Italian word "alba", meaning "sunrise", is derived. However, it is also a "red city", with porphyry, tiles and bricks, which are so medieval and so Piedmontese.
Because Alba is also white in terms of priests and nuns, with an ancient diocese that stretched over a thousand hills up to the Ligurian passes, but it is also red in terms of partisans and intellectuals: the city was awarded a gold medal for military valour, and in 1944 it freed itself and established for 23 days an ephemeral but most significant Free Republic.
Alba is red and white like its famous wines, and also red because of the raw Fassone veal and white because of the Tuber Magnatum Pico which is universally known as the Alba White Truffle, boasting a combination of senses that is second to none.
And yet, just a hundred years ago, Alba was nothing more than a small village at the valley floor surrounded by Piedmont's poorest hills. But a truly unique generation of tenacious, ambitious and extraordinarily talented men made the miracle happen: Giacomo Morra (who in 1929 created the Truffle Fair), Michele Ferrero (the father of Nutella, the man who combined capitalism and humanity), the Miroglio brothers (four generations in the textile business, dedicated people who truly “had what it takes” and who first employed workers throughout the Langa), the Stroppiana family (the Mondo brand that you see on the athletics track at every Olympic Games), pharmacists like Luciano De Giacomi (the most beautiful Piedmontese recipe book, “Nonna Genia”, is one of his family products) and Giacomo Oddero (all the great DOC wines of the Langhe are his creations).
And finally there are the writers Beppe Fenoglio and Cesare Pavese, who gave poetry to these hills, and an anarchic and instinctive painter like Pinot Gallizio.