Suoni dalle Colline di Langhe e Roero is the title of this year’s Alba Music Festival, summer edition and it opens July 16th in Alba and run through August 1st. The festival is the collaboration between the City of Alba and St. Mary’s College of Maryland, USA. This year marks the fourth edition of the summer program and will showcase artists from Italy as well as the US, Japan, Spain, Holland, Belgium, Argentina, England and Germany.
The program will consist of the Brass Quintet of the National RAI Symphony Orchestra, the famous Arias of Opera and Operetta with the Japanese soprano Miyuki Hayakawa, a performance dedicated to the Argentinean tango with the dancers Nancy Alejandra Micelli and Fernando Oscar Gargaglione, the Romanian State Orchestra performing Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony and the Spanish dancer Monica Sanchez. Also there will be piano recitals with four international soloists paying homage to Chopin and Schumann for the bicentennial of their birth. There will also be Jazz from Barend Middelhoff and his quintet.
This festival provides an occasion to discover the many beautiful places in the area, from the castle of Grinzane Cavour and Magliano Alfieri to the splendid boroughs of Castiglione Falletto, La Morra and Verduno. Also visitors should take time to visit the striking Tenuta Carretta of Piobesi, the Confraternita di San Bernardino of Vezza d’Alba and the fascinating Santuario della Madonna di Hal di Murazzano.
Six of the concert venues are part of the Strada Romantica of Langhe and Roero, a driving route that highlights places that through its setting and the stories of the people who live there bring to life this special area of Italy.
See below or download the Calendar of Alba Music Festival 2010:
Friday, July 16, 2010
9,00 PM Alba, Chiesa di San Giuseppe
“Harp and dance”
Saturday, July 17, 2010
9,00 PM Vezza d’Alba, Confraternita di San Bernardino
Sunday, July 18, 2010
9,00 PM La Morra, Chiesa di San Rocco
“Van li effluvi de le rose…”
Nocturnes, romances and songs
Monday, July 19, 2010
9,00 PM Piobesi d’Alba, Tenuta Carretta
“Music to see”
Magnasco Movie Quartet
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
9,00 PM Alba, Chiesa di San Giuseppe
“Così fan tutte”
Reality and legend in the life of Lorenzo Da Ponte
Music of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
9,00 PM Grinzane Cavour, Castello, Sala delle Maschere
“En evening with the Buranello”
The sonnets for two violins of Baldassarre Galuppi
Thursday, July 22, 2010
9,00 PM Verduno, Cortile del Municipio
Brass Quintet of the National RAI Symphony Orchestra
Friday, July 23, 2010
9,00 PM Treiso, ex Chiesa dei Battuti
“The Harlequin’s Serenade”
Famous Arias of the Opera and Operetta
Saturday, July 24, 2010
9,00 PM Murazzano, Santuario della Madonna di Hal
Homage to Robert Schumann for the bicentennial of his birth
Sunday, July 25, 2010
9,00 PM Castiglione Falletto, Piazza del Municipio
“Nuevo Encuentro y tango”
Music and dance from Argentina
Monday, July 26, 2010
9,00 Piobesi d’Alba, Tenuta Carretta
“Midsummer night’s dream”
Romanian State Symphony Orchestra
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
9,00 PM Annunziata di La Morra, Chiesa della Santissima Annunziata
“The magic flute”
Music of Haydn, Mozart, Stamitz
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
9,00 PM Sinio, Chiesa Parrocchiale di San Frontiniano
“Alborada del gracioso”
Music of Franck, Beethoven, Chopin, Ravel
Thursday, July 29, 2010
9,00 PM Trezzo Tinella, Chiesa dei Battuti
“Harmonies du soir”
Music of Liszt, Franck, Brahms, Chopin
Friday, July 30, 2010
9,00 PM Magliano Alfieri, Chiesa Parrocchiale di Sant’Andrea
Homage to Frédéric Chopin, for the bicentennial of his birth
Saturday, July 31, 2010
9,00 PM La Morra, Casa Vinicola Mascarello
Special Guest Barend Middelhoff saxaphone
Sunday, August 1, 2010
5,00 PM Sale San Giovanni, Castello dei Marchesi Incisa di Camerana
“Nubes de Buenos Aires”
One of my favourite places to go in the Langhe to enjoy a dramatic setting among the rolling hills is the Grinzane Castle in Grinzane Cavour, less than a 10minute drive from TorreBarolo.
The castle is an imposing building erected around a central tower that dates back to the 1st half of the 11th century and post a restoration in 1960 it can be admired in all of its original beauty. Moreover, by being set off from the town and surrounded by vineyards on three sides, it has one of the most spectacular settings in the Langhe.
The castle currently is homes to numerous facilities. On the ground floor is the Piedmontese Regional Enoteca, which was the first to be set up in Piedmont back in 1971. This enoteca showcases the very best regional wines and grappas and each wine goes through a strict selection process before being displayed and placed on sale. The enoteca provides tastings as well.
When my wine fanatic friends are visiting me at TorreBarolo, I always bring them here as from my experience it does have the best selection of the regional offerings and offering good one stop shopping. Here you can find a list of all the wineries represented in the Enoteca Regionale. On the 1st floor is the Hall of the Masks as well as a restaurant and bar. The Hall of the Masks is where the Order of the Knights of the Truffle and Wines of Alba as well as the National Association of Cheese tasters celebrates its Chapters. The Restaurant Al Castello offers a unique setting; however, it is the bar that I think is worth making a special stop for as it has a huge window that frames the surrounding vineyards that makes for a breath-taking venue to have a café or aperitif.
Several of the castle’s rooms are dedicated to ethnography and the castle houses a permanent museum which includes truffles, rare articles relating to local food and wine traditions as well as kitchen setting from the 17th century.
Every November the castle is home to the world famous White Truffle Auction where celebrated chefs from throughout Italy and the world attend to participate in the live worldwide auction for the finest Albese white truffles. It is not unusual for the most select truffles to go for over €100,000.
Opening hours are 09.30 – 19.00 (April to October) and 09.30 – 18.00 in the winter months. The castle is closed on Tuesdays.
Given the 79th International White Truffle fair in Alba is currently in full swing, I wanted to provide a bit more background on this delicious and mysterious fungus.
Alba is famous for white truffles and although these special fungus grow in various parts of the world (e.g., Albania, Romania, ex-Yugoslavia), it is the Alba white truffle that is considered the ultimate and that attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors a year for the annual truffle fair, that will culminate in the 11th White Truffle World Auction at the Grinzane Cavour Castle on November 8th.
White truffles (tuber magnatum pico) are a wild fungus and for them to grow, the soil must consist of special properties. Also critical is that this special fungus needs trees because the truffles only grow by absorbing the water, salt minerals and fibers from the soil through the roots of the trees. Even more interesting is that the tree the truffle grows close to influences the flavour of the truffle. For example, if the truffle is growing close to an oak tree, the truffle smell will be more intense than if it grows next to a poplar tree.
Fresh truffles lose their intensity of scent and flavour quite quickly so they aren’t good for oil to be kept for months. After a few days, fresh truffle oil will loose its flavour, therefore, if you see truffle oil in shops be aware that it likely contains a chemical flavouring.
Black truffles (see photo to the right) in my opinion lack the intensity of flavour and smell of the white ones. The winter (November to March) ones tend to be the best quality and they are not as highly expensive as the white ones.
Given the going price this year is €250/100 grams, it may be intimidating shopping for a truffle. Be aware that you area allowed to take off a little skin and look at the inside of the truffle. The inside should be light to dark brown. If it is any shade of white, the truffle isn’t mature. If you do buy a truffle and it has not already been cleaned for you, they immerse it in a bowl with equal parts white wine vinegar and water. Very gently brush the outside of the truffle with a brush you might use to clean mushrooms and then pat it dry.
A truffle hunt is very exciting but can be very depressing too when you spend five hours looking, and you find nothing (personal experience!).
Because its flavour is so intense, traditionally truffle is used very simply – shaved over risotto, pasta or often eggs or a carpaccio of veal or beef – so no other flavour can try to compete with it. In the Langhe, expect to pay about €60 for a bowl of the local pasta, tajarin with a generous shaving of white truffles.