The pretty little town of Acqualagna is located in the province of Pesaro and Urbino between the two hills of Gola and Furlo in Le Marche. With a population of just four and a half thousand and no obvious sights for the tourist to visit, it would be an easy place to overlook.
What is not apparent to the first-time visitor is that Acqualagna is the white truffle capital of Italy. Alba in Piedmont might be more famous but it is the truffle hunters of Acqualagna and their dogs who are quietly responsible for the majority of Italy’s white truffle production. In addition to this, the town is also the home of the Borsa del tartufo or Truffle Exchange which is in control of setting weekly prices for the tuber magnatum pico during the season.
The annual truffle fair at Acqualagna is one of the most important gastronomic festivals in Italy. It was started in 1966 as a response to the success of the Alba truffle festival which takes place during the autumn in Piedmont. Indeed while the two truffle fairs offer two entirely different experiences, many white truffle aficiandos consider the event at Acqualagna to be a more authentic experience. Commercialization is not the key concern as the focus tends to be on education and this has allowed the fair to remain more traditional in nature.
So then, every year in late October and early November the town comes into its own undergoing a startling transformation. It is completely taken over by the truffle fair with stands and pavillions dotted throughout the centre and beyond..The main square, Piazza Enrico Mattei is the centre of activities with nine stands selling white truffles. Here you can find all the big names in truffles including Urbani and Sartori. These stands are located in front of the Truffle Museum which also offers visitors to Acqualagna a year-round “Truffle Experience.”
Around this area you will also find the stands of restaurants alongside sellers of gourmet food and drink as well as the stalls of various local artisans.
One of the main attractions of the event is the “Salotto da Gustare” or “Taste Parlour”. This is a rare treat for lovers of fine dining who sit in a restaurant-cum-theatre setting and watch some of the best chefs in the country at work. The ensuing action – a combination of cooking show, guided tasting and competition – has always been great fun to watch as the atmosphere tends to be friendly and informal. Previous years have seen world-class chefs such as Massimo Bottura sharing tricks of the trade, taking amazing fresh ingredients and simply elevating them to another realm.
So above all the “Taste Parlour” is an unmissable learning experience for anyone wanting to take their knowledge of the tastes and flavours of Italian cuisine to the next level. In addition to honing your cooking skills and your tastebuds, there are dozens of activities over the course of the festival from string concertos and seminars to truffling expeditions and children’s cookery classes.
The 2019 event, the 54th National White Truffle Fair, takes place over three weekends. It starts on Sunday October 27th continuing on Thursday, Friday and Saturday
(November 1st, 2nd and 3rd) and the final days are Friday 9th, and Saturday 10th of November.
There will be an update with the programme for this year as soon as it is published