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The town of Alba is in the Piedmont region of north-east Italy, south-east of Turin and south-west of Milan. Although the city has its origins in Ancient Roman times, most of the monuments of interest today date from the 13th - 15th centuries.
Although it is really the charm of the city as a whole, with its towers, palaces and unspoiled medieval streets that is the main attraction in Alba, there are also several monuments of particular interest that you will come across as you explore including the 11th century cathedral.
Your visit to Alba can begin with the Church of San Giovanni in the 'Elvio Pertinax Square' which contains several interesting artworks such as the the 'Madonna delle Grazie' by Barnaba da Modena (1377); the 'Adoration of the Child with Madonna and Saints Joseph Nicholas of Tolentino, Augustine, and Jerome”, by Macrino da Alba, a local painter (c.1465-1520)).
In the church choir you can also see an icon by Giovanni Antonio Molineri (1575-1642), depicting the “Baptism of Jesus”; and in the third chapel on the right is a painting of the “Madonna del Carmine”, by Guglielmo Caccia, called “Moncalvo” (1568-1625).
Back outside the church, on the square itself there are two 15th century tower-houses which still retain their structure from the late medieval period.
Continue along Via Cavour, which has one of the most beautiful architectural structures of the entire Old Town, to reach the Piazza del Duomo and then Piazza Risorgimento.
This square is overlooked by the 11th century Alba Cathedral of San Lorenzo, of Gothic-Romanesque style, which has three portals on the façade which was redesigned in the 19th century, and a massive 13th century bell tower. Inside the cathedral is a fine wooden choir created by Bernardino Fossati in 1512.
Not far from the cathedral is the Church of San Domenico, a 13th century church with a Romanesque-Gothic façade, which opens onto a beautiful splayed portal. After visiting Saint Dominic Church continue along Via Calissano to see the Social Theatre, built in 1855 in the neo-classical style.
From the Piazza del Duomo you can follow the ancient Via Maestra (now called "Via Vittorio Emanuele”), which has long been an important artery for the social, cultural and economic life of Alba. This street is also a great place to stock up on delicacies for a great Italian picnic and other delicacies to take home with you!
At the intersection with Via Calissano, the Do House was built in the 15th century and decorated with terracotta friezes.
Alba is especially a city of towers and, in Piazza del Duomo, it is possible to visit the highest and best preserved of these, which are the Sineo, Bonino and Artesiano towers.
The Church of Saint John the Baptist has a baroque style and holds a late 14th century painting by Barnaba da Modena and "Nativity" by Macrino da Alba, a painter who followed the stylistic influences of the Italian Central Art style.
Civil architecture in this part of Alba is represented by the medieval Loggia dei Mercanti, then the Fontana House and Diretti House: the first has a beautiful Renaissance frieze while the second has an elegant decoration with some small archs.
More art works can be seen in Alba City Hall such as the “Crowned Virgin” by Macrino da Alba (1501); the “Piccolo Concerto” by Mattia Preti (1613-1699), in the style of Caravaggio; a 16th-century altarpiece and a work by Pinot Gallizio.
Pinot Gallizio (1902-1964) was a leading exponent of the European avant-garde in the 1950s and 1960s and the inventor of the so-called "industrial painting” style.
Other monuments to visit in Alba include the Palace of the Counts of Serralunga; the Church of SS. Cosmas and Damian (18th century); and the baroque Church of Mary Magdalene.
The Civic Museum of Archaeology and Natural Sciences in Alba (called "Federico Eusebio"), contains some Roman and prehistoric archaeological collections relating to the area and natural ethnography sections.
Finally, walk to the Piazza Savona, with its attractive arcades and a tree-lined promenade with a fountain, built in the late 1950's. The majestic Church of Saint Paul in this square features a bronze portal, dedicated to the saint.
Alba cuisine and wines
Lovers of fine cuisine associate Alba with truffles and the product is very present in both the town and surrounding region. In October Alba holds the traditional "Truffle Fair of Alba" where you can find dishes made with truffles which go with noodles, ravioli, raw meat and fried eggs.
The local cheese is the characteristic "Robiola of Alba”, which is delicate and tasty. Other dishes to be sure to taste are the so-called "bagna calda", a sauce of anchovies, garlic, olive oil and butter, accompanied by raw vegetables in season; also the “polenta” with venison and snails cooked in various ways.
Among the sweets to try in Alba we recommend the "Bunet”, and a chocolate pudding called “Gianduja” with crushed amaretto and hazelnut cake. Among the wines you can sample the "Dolcetto d'Alba”, “Barbera d'Alba”, “Nebbiolo” and the "Freisa”.
In the surrounding region you can explre the vineyards and wine villages that are an important part of the local industry. These include the castle at Grinzane and the villages of La Morra and Barolo, perhaps the most well known of the local wines.
See also history of Alba
You can find more local travel ideas in the Piedmont guide.