Thursday, March 28, 2019

Yet Another Wanderlust Wednesday in Alba and Asti

Wednesday, 27 March, 2019

As usual, today was my designated day of the week to set Skorpions football issues aside and do a little exploring, this time in Lombardia's neighboring region of Piemonte.

With this tome as my guide,
I opted to head to the cities of
Alba and Asti

In Fred Plotkin's book, he discusses all sorts of Italian culinary issues, as the title clearly states, in a region by region organizational format.

In each of Italy's 21 regions, Plotkin selects a city that he classifies as the region's Classic Town.

In the Piemonte region he states that he had a hard time choosing between Alba and Asti for the honor of the region's Classic Town before finally opting for Alba.

Since they are only about 15 minutes apart, I decided to visit both cities today.

 First up, Alba

Today a small city of about 32,000 souls, Alba was once a powerful city-state. It is considered to be the capital of the vine-striped Langhe Hills area and has a considerable gastronomic reputation thanks to white truffles, dark chocolate and wine.

Today I would try all three.

YES, Alba is a food city!

In the Piemonte, truffles (tartufi in Italian) are a specialty so I needed to be sure that they were part of my dietary plan for the day.

 Thank goodness that
Laurie is still in California

 The mean streets of Alba

It was a little early for lunch yet and the streets were relatively quiet when I arrived to this Classic Town.

 Food signs and . . .

. . . food we're all around me

Plotkin recommended five dining
spots in Alba and I was heading
to one of them that sounded good to me

Osteria Laliberta
Via Elvio Pertinace 24a
12051 Alba
Tel. +39 017 329 3156

Knowing a little Italian
can be a dangerous thing

In Italian, "Vorrei un bicchiere di vino rosso." means I'd like a glass of red wine.

In Italian, "Vorrei una bottiglia Diu vino rosso." means I'd like a bottle of red wine.

I meant the first but said the second, thus after lunch I lingered about the city of Alba for a lot longer than I had originally planned before even thinking of getting behind the wheel of my car again.

By the way, the bottle of red wine was a delicious Barbera, according to Plotkin, made from the most popular native grape in the Piemonte.

For lunch I ordered the
Agnolotti del Plin

Agnolotti del Plin is a fabulous dish of small, rich meat stuffed ravioli made in a creamy butter sauce with truffles.

This is one of Osteria Laliberta's signature dishes and it was incredible!

I had room for a dolci and ordered the tiramisu, which in my opinion is the Italian dessert.

I am always trying to find the better tiramisu in my dining experiences, how would today's tiramisu grade out?

Jesus, Mary AND Joseph!

What a finish!

This was easily the best tiramisu that I have ever had the pleasure to consume.

The city of Alba, the Osteria Laliberta and Fred Plotkin all came through today for me with flying colors!

Ok, I needed to start walking that bottle of Barbera red wine off while I enjoyed Alba's sights.

The Chiesa di Santa Maria Maddalena

This Baroque church dates from 1700 A.D., let's take a look inside.

It had a good cupola fresco

Maybe I'm getting somewhat jaded, but the rest of this chiesa was quite ordinary.

I just liked the look
of this weathered sign

While most of the surrounding
hillsides' trees are blooming,
 this one is still in Winter mode

 The entrance to the
Chiesa di San Domenico

 Can you hear me knocking?

Alba's Cattedrale di San Lorenzo

While early Christian buildings on this site date back to the 6th-century, this cathedral was completed in 1652 A.D.

 Ok, maybe I'm not so jaded,
the Cattedrale's interior was

 I liked the Cattedrale's
modern baptismal font

 On a Cattedrale pew

 The Cattedrale's ceiling
fresco was a nice touch

Back to the streets . . .

An Ancient Pharmacy

Tempting but I'm still full from
that sumptuous lunch

 In its heyday, Alba
sported over 100 towers

 Weather beaten church angel

 No more wine for me today

 All that wine meant that I
needed a restroom

Cignetti is known for their dark chocolates and their excellent men's restroom!

After using the latter, I ordered a macchiato and a whisky flavored Bumba dark chocolate.

Only one word for everything that Cignetti has to offer . . . OUTSTANDING!

 Pasta for sale in Alba?

Who would have guessed?

I wandered some more and decided that I still needed more caffeine.

 Looked good to me,
so I entered


It all looked great, but I did not need got add to my sugar high.

 This bar has EVERYTHING!

 Including a good cup of espresso

Local Hero
General Giuseppe Govone

 It was getting late and I
still had not left for Asti

 Spring has sprung

Lions are big all over Italy

A butcher shop specializing
in horse meat

That brought back great memories of several amazing meals featuring delicious, sweet horse meat in Sicily back in 2008 and 2009 when I coached the Catania Elephants.

 Chiesa di San Giovanni Battista

It is a relatively new church built in 1884 on a spot used by Christians since the early 13th-century.

Inside I found . . .

Light shining through stained
glass on one side of the chiesa
bathed the other side in
brilliant colors

 The Sacred Heart of Jesus

It had been over two hours now since I had my lunch and I felt ready to head on to the city of Asti.

Instead of getting back on the main highway, I opted to take the back roads through the winding, wine grape producing Langhe Hills between Alba and Asti.

 Vineyards . . .

. . . lots and lots . . .

. . . of vineyards

Just five years ago, these hills
were a stage of the popular
Giro d'Italia bicycle race

 Once in Asti, I discovered that
they hold a Palio annually

Unfortunately, it is in September so I'm out of luck in attending this fun event.

 Vittorio Alfieri

Born in Asti in 1749 A.D., Alfieri was a dramatist and poet who is considered to be the Father of Italian Tragedy plays.

 No more grapes today

 Asti's Torre Troiana O Dell'Orologio
dates from the 13th-century

Powerful statue above a
dormant fountain

 A monument to the local war dead from
the mid-19th-century wars for the
Unification of Italy

 Chiesa Collegiata di San Secondo

Why not, I went into another church, this one from the 15th-century.

Colorful Asti Palio banners were the
first thing that caught my eye

It makes sense as each competing contrada or neighborhood in the Palio represents its local church in the race.

 Interesting mural

 A beautiful Pieta

Los Angeles Rams fan in Asti?

A Palio contrada logo

It was another enjoyable Wanderlust Wednesday and when I got home, I got some good pictures from home.

Grandson Jacob had a baseball game Wednesday in Camarillo.

 Just like his Dad, Jacob can
grow a mustache at a moments notice

Jacob is looking more and more like
the Cincinnati Reds logo every day!

Jacob racing to first base!

What a great day!

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