Not only does Alba have wine and truffles, it has wine and truffle festivals. And we just happened to arrive right smack in the middle of a monthlong festival! WOW! Our apartment was in the heart of old town and if you needed a good location to quickly remove thoughts of having to leave Lucca, Alba would be a good choice.
Now it did take four trains to get to Alba, but that's part of the good news. It deters a lot of tourists from visiting, which is just fine with us. Now don't get us wrong. On Fridays night walk, where every other shop had set up impromptu wine and food tasting, there were a lot willing to partake. And at the Saturday and Sunday truffle, wine grappa and spumante market, there was a boisterous crowd. There just weren't a lot of people speaking anything other than italian, which gave it a wonderful local feel.
We do give the italians credit though. They are not easily deterred by rain. And we got plenty of it during a few days of our visit. Now for a couple of cyclists with limited choices of clothes, donning the rain gear was like putting on a new outfit. And the best part is we looked as fashionable as everyone else.
We met some wonderful people. Some we saw over the course of several days, and every time we met them, there was a smile, a handshake and genuine gratitude that we were there. And of course, it was mostly in Italian. One wonderful man, who could not stop pouring us glasses of wine that we weren't paying for spoke Spanish and we had a great time listening and laughing with him. Some faces you will never forget. His is one.
Soon we needed to board the train for Somma Lombardo, but not before we got a few slices of focaccia from our favorite local for the journey. It is hard to imagine how olives, mushrooms, grilled onions and olive oil atop baked bread can taste so incredible that you can't wait until the next time you get to eat it. But there we were, salivating over our last daily dose of wonder bread.