Family Outings - Alba and Tanaro Park
An easy walk around town from the centre of Alba along the banks of the Tanaro River. A fun outing to enjoy the flavours and aromas of chocolate and truffles and featuring parks and playgrounds. For all ages.
We recommend starting in Piazza Medford, where there is ample, free parking within “noseshot” of a certain Italian company famous for its chocolate and hazelnut spread. From here, cross Piazza Garibaldi towards the centre of town and head down Via Cavour, a street that features a number of historical buildings that point to the city’s medieval origins. Turn right onto Via Toppino, right before a medieval tower, and continue into Piazza Pertinace, where you will find the remnants of a Roman temple protected beneath plexiglass flooring.
Cross this lovely square, the site of the Mercato della Terra Slow Food on Saturday mornings, and take the narrow Via Ravina to Via Vittorio Emanuele II, which locals also call “Via Maestra”, and, here, turn right. This pedestrian-only street runs for about a kilometre through the old part of Alba and features a great many shops. We recommend keeping your head high as you walk here, so that you can enjoy the various medieval and Art Nouveau buildings found here. For example, on your left you will see the medieval Casa Fontana, which features a curious frieze in terracotta depicting figures dancing all across its facade. Further on, at Via Vittorio Emanuele II no. 19, you will find a large doorway that opens onto a vast, inner courtyard and Alba’s Museum of Archaeology and Natural Sciences. This courtyard is also the site of the World Truffle Market during the International White Truffle Fair, as well as of many other events for the city and its residents. During the warmer months, you will also find a fun playground here.
Continuing along Via Vittorio Emanuele II, you will reach Piazza Michele Ferrero, a lovely Italian square featuring buildings and porticos in 19th-century style along its two longest sides, whereas the main structure of the square is more modern. The square is closed to vehicle traffic and is well worth a longer stay, as children will enjoy playing in this colourful square, free from the chaos of city life. Along the sides of the square, there are few sculptures, while at the Viale Italia end there is a wonderful fountain dedicated to Giovanni Ferrero, who, together with his brother Pietro, founded the Italian confectionery business that bears their name. Long ramps run alongside the pools of the fountain, inviting children to run and play. From the square, you will then head back down Via Vittorio Emanuele II to Piazza Risorgimento, also known as “Piazza del Duomo” in reference to its St. Lawrence Cathedral. The Alba Town Hall and tourist office are also found here.
From here, take Via Manzoni to the right and continue along Via Vernazza until you reach the parking areas at Piazza Guglielmo Marconi and Piazza Senatore Cagnasso. Keep to the right onto Corso Nino Bixio and continue on for about 700 meters (about half a mile) to Via San Rocco on your right and Piazzale Cesare Pio, which marks the start of the Tanaro River Park. The park runs along the banks of the Tanaro River and features a lovely walk of about one kilometre (0.6 mi) along dirt roads. Here you will find grass to play on, benches to rest on, and beautiful views of the river. Take the lower road to the right from the parking area to reach the playground.
After a stop at the park, take the stairs up a dirt road that continues slightly downhill to the right beneath a curious gallery formed by a giant, metal tube, where children will have fun playing on and beneath the grass-covered bridge. Continue along past the skate park and follow the road to the left around the golf course, parallel to the river. Continue straight on alongside a clearing dedicated to Robert Baden-Powell, founder of the Scout movement and back up onto the riverbank. From here, continue to the right, past the sports facilities, and come out onto Via Generale Carlo Alberto Dalla Chiesa. Turn left here and continue along a section of Via Tanaro to the right, passing through the area of the sports facilities. At the roundabout, take Corso Matteotti to the right, which will take you back to Piazza Medford.
The king of Alba cuisine is, without doubt, the white truffle, a true delicacy in Europe since the 1700s. Piedmont cuisine features delicious appetizers such as carpaccio all’Albese and vitello tonnato, pasta dishes that include tajarin al sugo d’arrosto and agnolotti al plin, and entrées like stewed meats braised in Barolo wine. Local wines include Nebbiolo, with its Barolo and Barbaresco, Dolcetto, and Barbera.
There are also a great many fresh local cheeses, such as Robiola d’Alba. Dessert treats include Alba’s chocolate and rum pralines, cakes made with the local Tonda Gentile cultivar of hazelnuts, which children will love, or the typical torrone d’Alba.
Franco Voglino and Annalisa Porporato
Along the way:
Point of interest along the way
1 Piazza Risorgimento
1 Piazza Risorgimento