The Alba market (mercato) is held every Saturday, whatever the season and weather may be. Piazza Risorgimento, via Cavour, via Vittorio Emanuele, Piazza Marconi and Piazza Garibaldi transform into a huge supermarket under the sky. From the first morning till lunchtime it’s a popular shopping place among people from Alba, nearest towns and villages. And you can buy there almost everything: groceries (vegetables, fruits, cheeses, ready meals), plants (flowers, potherbs), clothes (mainly made in China), furnishing articles (tablecloths, pillows, etc), some household chemicals and cosmetics. Briefly speaking you will leave the market dressed, with full belly and even you will decorate your house…
The most attractive part, the grocery one, is located on Piazza Marconi. The square is a big parking space on a daily basis, but during these few hours a week it becomes alive, changing into a temple of vegetables, fruits and colorful plants.
Long and vivid stands, nice service, street buzz, Piedmont cheeses and salumi flavor, fresh and matured fruits – it all make me stay there forever, picking between tasty products (local and non-local). You will get there peaches from Canale (a town near Alba), peppers from Carmagnola (situated in the Turin province, which is famous for this vegetable cultivation – on the beginning of September there are Sagra del Peperone events), homemade Piedmont sausages and dry-cured hams. In summer I always buy a sunflower, which is not only gorgeous and spectacular, but also durable and without any problem stands one week in a vase.
The scale of Mercato di Alba is really impressive which makes it one of the most popular tourist attraction in Langhe. But it’s not the only reason – a lot of people like simply visiting local markets, me too. Despite of local folklore, it’s a perfect place to get to know typical spices, fresh sea food and fishes, vegetables and fruits, not imported from another part of the world. The fact is that nowadays we have unlimited access to different products for the whole year, but the true is that they taste much better in the country where naturally grow. Fortunately, in the end! The traveling is not simply monuments visiting or exploring nature’s diversity. But it is also discovering of typical and characteristic tastes.
If I have time and energy left, I drop into a tiny focacceria il Budego, via Cavour. It’s run by a nice native Ligurian who prepares really delicious focacce. One of his secretes is the cheese Formaggio Fresco LLT (Latte Ligure Tracciato), brought directly from Recco (a town in Liguria). I have eaten different focacce but his are the best. You can eat inside or take it away.