Dogliani is another small town (less than 5000 citizens) on the map of south Piedmont, split in two parts by Rea torrent . Distant 28 kilometers from Alba it is the most important economical and cultural center to the villages and towns of west part of the Langhe.
I visited Dogliani in springtime, travelling back from Cantina Clavesana. I decided to stop for a while to look closer to the characteristic green cupola of San Quirico e Paolo church. From the entrance to the locality I noticed cars parked casually on the main road, groups of people directed to the downtown and general agitation. Even though I knew in that day Dogliani was supposed to host the event called Antica Fiera della Ciliegia, I still was surprised by the number of participants, mainly townspeople.
When I finally managed to find a parking place, I directed to the heart of the event. Stands were arranged along both parts of the river, on the main square and on streets. I was hoping to find mainly fruits and vegetables, some handcrafts, but unfortunately instead cheap stuff made in China was dominating – clothes, shoes, bags, ecc. And if not the fact that it was one of the most important gastronomical event in Dogliani, there wouldn’t be nothing strange in it. But we are talking about the Langhe – mainly rural region, full of fantastic products to offer (not to mention about wine), and in this context Antica Fiera della Ciliegia (sweet cherry) was a bit disappointing.
Of course the history of this town is strictly related to wine and not cherries. According to one of the theories its name comes from Dolium Jani, meaning a Giano Glass. Giano was the god of landscapes and borders that, according to a legend, during his numerous tours around the area, was tasting wines and he particularly liked the local one. Others say the name was taken from Dolium Januae – a Glass of Genova – because of commercial contact (mainly based on wine) with Ligurian cities. Whatever the case may be, the fact is that since many centuries grapevine has taken an important part of local life and till today local economy is based on grapevine, Dolcetto variety especially. Even In 16th century it was already very common and authorities cared about the quality of Dolcetto wine. According to the document from 1593 harvesting had been allowed only after September 21st , the San Matteo holiday. And for those who would have broken the law provided penalty was severe – confiscation of harvested grapes… About Dolcetto you can find some information in my previous article. I will mention only that only in the Langhe area there are 5 dominations: Dolcetto d’Alba DOC, Dolcetto di Diano d’Alba DOC, Dolcetto delle Langhe Monregalesi (near Mondovi’) DOC, and around Dogliani: Dolcetto di Dogliani DOC, Dolcetto di Dogliani Superiore DOCG, called also Dogliani DOCG.
Coming back to the event itself and sweet cherries. Well, it’s hard to believe but I didn’t manage to buy any ciliegia – they were sold before I reached Dogliani… Still, I came back home with a small chest of delicious strawberries, a big portion of roasted chicken and few bottles of Dolcetto wine. And I was happy anyway!